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Artists 101

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How do I connect with my fans?

Connecting with your fans can make or break your music career. These are the listeners that will stream your music, purchase your merch, and attend your shows. You want to make sure your connection with them remains strong. You need to ensure, first off, that your music is capable of reaching the people you want it to connect with. From there, it’s a good idea to be available to your fans on social media, whether that’s going live on Instagram or replying to tweets. Be authentic in your interactions and creative in ways to interact.

“Are you even making music capable of having a fan? That’s a special skill. Whatever your creation is, can you get other people to latch into it? First, you should ask yourself if you’re capable of that, before you start racking your brain about fans and where they are, or starting up a marketing plan. Be honest with yourself.”

—Michael Kolar, Engineer

“SZA’s fans know to find her on Twitter, and she has very authentic conversations with them that shape the way she releases music, and that creates a cult following. Of course, she always has the lyrics and the musicality, but then you add on her authentic engagement and loyal fanbase, and you end up with hit after hit after hit.”

—MeLisa Heath, Artist Manager

“You have to be aware of everything—every single opportunity, whether it’s through your phone and between the obvious social media platforms—and more niche things. There’s gaming, Twitch, and Discord. You don’t have to exist in all these spaces. Sometimes, that’s a detriment to artists, because you’re spreading yourself too thin. It’s gonna take a lot of energy, and you have to recognize who your core fan is and start focusing on a handful of platforms. The most universal one that everyone’s gotta participate in is Instagram.

“What you’re putting up on Twitter shouldn’t be the same content on Instagram. You have to recognize each platform for where they are, and how to create community [on each one]. For every messaging platform, you probably should be picking up something where you can create a community for your fans to interact.

“People might not understand the significance of an email address. The traditional idea of, almost, creating fan clubs. Every time you send out an Instagram post, only a small percentage of people are gonna see it in their timeline. But if you send an email out to an email list, there’s a good chance people are gonna see it come into their inbox. There’s a real opportunity that artists miss out on—instead of trying to touch everyone—in trying to extract a core fan.”

—Karl Fricker, VP of A&R, RCA Records

“We’re past the days where people want the shopped version of you. They want your authentic self, whether that’s Instagram Live, DMs, or staying after a show and really meeting and speaking to fans. People want an authentic connection. It takes a lot of work and is exhausting.”

—Liz Eason, Label Services, Vydia

“Try to gain one fan a day. Reach out, engage in your comments, engage in your DMs—give these people that are following you a reason to keep following you. Be consistent in the content you’re releasing. It’s about the quality. I also wouldn’t get caught up in how many people are engaging with your content right away. The views will come, just be consistent.”

—Adam Small, A&R, Saweetie

“There’s no doubt that the ultimate goal for the artist is to get into a situation where they’re doing less pushing and their fans are doing more pulling. It’s a challenging thing to do. This goes back to that initial framing of yourself as an artist, and answering the question of ‘Why should people care?’ If you’re not doing something unique, something compelling, it’s going to be increasingly hard to get to that level of pull. Certainly, as an artist, there’s a lot of platforms available to you. The key is choosing the ones that feel on-brand.”

—Seth Faber, Head of Artist and Label Strategy, Stem

“When I was coming up, I was always interacting with people. Hands-on. Back in the MySpace days, when I dropped a song, I would personally go to everybody’s page and post on everybody’s wall. I was direct with people. Talking about social media, I am directly tapping in with people and building relationships.”

—Sonny Digital, Artist

“Ask yourself: ‘What do my fans want from me?’ and then give it to them. Are they connecting with you because of your music, your lyrics, your looks, your politics? Yes, you want them to follow, stream, and purchase, but this is a two-way street, and if you bombard them with messages that are only about you, they’ll stop listening. Instead, build value: give them what they are looking for and they will keep coming back for more.”

—Mark Tavern, Music Industry Educator