Nothing can be more exhausting than constantly standing on a soap box yelling into a void on social media: “Buy my album! Buy my concert tickets! Buy my merchandise”. No artist loves doing that.
So isn’t it really interesting that many artists go quiet when they don’t have anything to promote? Why do they go quiet? It is that they don’t know what to share? Or don’t know how to continue to build an audience in between releases?
When we’re not in ‘campaign mode’ for a single, EP or album release, what we are essentially wanting to do is to build awareness of our artist brand.
In a previous episode and blog, we unpack what your artist brand is and how to clarify it. Once you’re clear on this, then your job as your own marketer is to continue to engage with your existing audience in a way that supports and amplifies this brand.
Identify your audience
Before you can develop or grow your audience, you’ll want to identify your current audience. Rather than guessing who your audience is, we all have amazing data at our fingertips through insights on our social media pages, streaming platforms and our email marketing platform. Are you using this data?
Take a look at your data to answer these questions: Who is your audience? Where are they in the world? And on what platforms? What age and gender are they? What else can you find out about them?
Know what content works and what doesn’t
Once you know your audience, find out what content they respond to best and how they like to engage with you. If we’re talking about social media and email marketing, what content gets the most engagement? And at what time of what day? These insights can be helpful in at least targeting your key audience on the right day at the right time.
Once you know what’s working, do more of that. Give them more of what they want. And scale back that which is not working, or tweak your approach and retest it.
How can you continue to nurture your audience?
Next, you’ll want to explore how your audience can get to know you better so that you can stay known to them. How can you continue to engage, interest, excite and inspire them, or whatever your artist brand promises the experience of your audience will be?
Find out. Ask them. Or create a few tests and experiments around this. When you value the connection with your audience, they will start valuing their connection with you.
When you look at the data, what will likely be working well won’t be the ‘direct sell’ (ie. buy my new album), but more so the content that sheds more light on the nuances of your artist brand; the humour of your brand, the vulnerability of your brand, the inspired nature of your brand. Or whatever your artist brand promises the experience of your audience will be.
Developing new audiences
When you’ve identified your audience, what’s working and what’s not and how you can nurture and engage your existing audience, it’s just a matter of scaling this and reaching more people like this. If you know your marketing pathways and your existing audience data, this can allow you to build new goals along with a strategic plan so that you can grow new audiences.
In a past episode and blog, we shared all the different marketing pathways you have access to. When it comes to growing your audience, you can only really do this by being found or discovered by new audiences. You’re not going to do that by standing in front of the same audience. So what are some of the ways you can build new audiences?
Marketing suggestions to build new audiences:
Use Meta-Tags and Keywords
Tune in for the keywords that are repeated anytime you have a conversation with your audience. For example: ‘Bob Dylan’, ‘alternative rock’, ’12-string guitar’, ‘music to relax to’. Once you know the keywords used by your audience, use them everywhere – in the meta-descriptions in your YouTube videos, in your hashtags, blogs. These keywords can expose you to new audiences who search for these keywords.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Collaboration and Sharing Audiences
Collaboration goes a long way to building new audiences. Writing songs, recording songs or performing with other artists is a fast path to opening yourself up to the other artists’ audience. Especially if that other artist is consistently engaging with their audience, and especially if that artist has a bigger audience than you, like a major touring artist that you are supporting.
Think Outside the Box when it comes to Traditional Media
Traditional media outlets like radio and magazines are revered for building new audiences for artists. Often artists will reach out to traditional media outlets with a press release when they’re approaching release time. Did you put a great press release together for your release and send it to traditional media outlets? What are some ways you can continue to engage with your radio stations and magazines outside of release time?
Here are two simple out of the box ways to engage with traditional media outlets that we have used: For 2 years, I Heart Songwriting Club had a radio segment on the ABC where we brought together songwriters from The Club and wrote a song live on radio every two weeks. Our founder also wrote articles for Songwriting Magazine UK for a season.
Get in Front of People
Performing shows and touring is the most tried and tested method of building audiences. Being in front of people in the flesh, sharing music in real time in the same room is a transformative experience for everyone. If you’ve played live shows before, you’ll know exactly what I mean. You can perform locally, on tour, on line, at a festival, at a house concert, where else? Make sure everyone that you play in front of knows how they can continue to engage with you after the show.
Get onto New Playlists
Being added to a playlist with a big audience can be a fast path to getting in front of new people.
Run Paid Ads
Running ads for brand awareness should only be done once you’ve clarified your audience and you really know what content works organically with that audience. Do this with a really clear call to action that will allow you to gather data through this process. For example, getting people to sign up to your mailing list by offering a gift to them when they join.
Encourage Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. If you tell your friends about a new restaurant that you’ve discovered or a song that you love, chances are they will go and check that out. Are you asking people to talk about your music? Don’t overlook this very simple and powerful tool.
Build Brand Partnerships
What are some other brands that have similar values to yours? And how can you partner with them to share audiences. For example, Francesca once partnered with a French patisserie, ceramic studio and French language school when presenting her Paris-inspired concert. It sold out pretty quickly and more than half of the audience were people she’d never seen at a show before.
Ultimately, Be Consistent:
We recommend you don’t try to do everything at once. Get started with a few strategies and be consistent with it. Ensure you’ve built in enough time in your days and weeks to create marketing content and share that. And then make sure you’re checking in to stay engaged with your audience.
After a few weeks, measure the data. How is this performing? What can you learn from this? What is working, what is not, how can you amplify what is working?
If you need some guidance and accountability to do this work, check out our mentoring program, Level Up Club.
Episode Show Notes:
Get your creativity, confidence, and songwriting output flowing. Join The Club and receive the support and structure to write 10 songs in 10 weeks and get feedback from a private peer community. This is THE essential writing practice that has changed the careers and lives of 1000s of songwriters worldwide.
Just getting started on your songwriting journey and need more hands-on support? Establish a firm foundation and develop your musical and lyric skills with our Beginner Songwriting Courses. They are the perfect place to begin and cover everything you need to know to write your first songs. You’ll receive lessons from Francesca directly!
Don’t struggle to write your next album – write an album a year with ease! Watch our Free Songwriting Masterclass.
Want more for your songwriting but don’t know where to go from here? Take the I Heart Songwriting Club Quiz to discover your next steps and inspire your way to writing better songs.
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Podcast theme song: “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other One” music and lyrics by Francesca de Valence
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