30+ Tips and Tricks to Turn Casual Music Fans Into Loyal Superfans
We talk a lot about how to gain exposure and build your audience as an independent artist, which are both essential for the foundation of your music career. But if you’re making the mistake of treating all your fans the same way, well… you’re going to find that it’s nearly impossible to reach the point where you can financially support yourself through your music.
There are all different levels and types of music fans, but in this article, we’re going to explore how to identify and develop the most valuable kind of all: superfans.
What is a superfan?
Superfans are not the people who merely follow you on SoundCloud, watch one of your YouTube videos, or like your Instagram posts every now and then. Instead, they’re the people who play the most crucial role in building your music career.
Not only do they love your music, but they also love you as an artist so much that they want to feel some sort of personal connection to you. They directly support you in any way possible — financially or otherwise — without thinking twice about it. They make up the smallest subgroup of your fanbase, but they comprise the largest portion of your artist income.
In fact, a Nielsen study showed that “the high level of spending from a relatively narrow group of music consumers is dominating the share of overall music spend. These big spenders have indicated that, at large, they’d be willing to pay even more for exclusive extras, like in-studio updates, real-time emails, pre-orders, limited editions, autographed copies, vinyl records, and lyric sheets handwritten by the artist.”
The study analyzed the behaviors of all different levels of music fans, and found that the top-tier fans — which they call “aficionado fans” — only make up 14 percent of the total music consumer population, but are responsible for a whopping 34 percent of the share of music spend.
Why do superfans matter so much?
If you put in the time and effort to nurture the relationship with your superfans, they could become lifelong, diehard supporters of your music. Not only will they be your most loyal customers, but they’ll also be your best ambassadors, taking every opportunity they can to turn others on to your music. Superfans are the ones you can count on for powerful word-of-mouth marketing that will propel your music career forward faster and more effectively than anything else.
A core following of loyal superfans is the difference between a sustainable, thriving music career and a failed one. No matter how niche your music is, it’s entirely possible — and necessary — to attract and nurture superfans.
How do you grow superfans?
If you want to turn casual fans of your music into loyal superfans, the two big areas to be aware of are: 1) using the right communication channels, and 2) providing the right kind of content.
Social media is great for growing and engaging your audience to a certain extent, but you should never rely on it exclusively as a direct line to your fans. Why? Because you don’t actually own that fan data, and you’re at the mercy of whatever the company deems people should see organically. And, of course, let’s not forget the ultimate cautionary tale of Myspace: social media platforms come and go all the time, so if you don’t own the connection to and the communication with your fans, you’re putting yourself at risk of losing your potential superfans.
It may sound old school, but the most powerful and direct channel you have to reach your fans is email. It’s crucial to focus your efforts on building your email list early on so that you have a chance to elevate your fans to superfan status.
Email marketing is the one communication channel you have that allows you to see the detailed activity of each individual fan (Who opens? Who clicks? Who buys?), as well as big-picture trends (how engaged is your email list as a whole? When is the best day and time to send an email?). This kind of data allows for powerful segmentation, which means that you can filter out your superfans from the rest of your list and provide them with exclusive content and opportunities that will deepen your relationship with them.
But how do you build a valuable fan email list? A great way to get started is by sharing free downloads of your music in exchange for fan email addresses. We directly built this feature into all Hypeddit download gates (shameless plug!) to make it easy for artists to own their fan connections.
Once you take control of your communication channels, you’re ready to focus on fan engagement. It takes a significant amount of time and effort to develop superfans for your music, but the following ideas will help you set the wheels in motion.
30+ tips and tricks to turn casual fans into superfans
#1: Make your superfans feel special by emailing them a private link to a new track that hasn’t been released to the public yet.
#2: Check your social media comments and direct messages daily, and reply to anyone who’s commented or messaged you (excluding spammers and trolls, of course).
#3: Tag fans in social media shoutout posts. Maybe even try a “fan of the week” to encourage your audience to engage more on your pages.
#4: Upload a selfie of you and your fans at your next live show, and encourage them to tag themselves.
#5: Email your fans exclusive, unreleased mixes or remixes of your tracks that you publish only to them.
#6: Give your fans shoutouts in your podcasts or radio shows, for example by reading out loud a few tweets you received in the week ahead of the show.
#7: Interact with your fans by letting them pick special tracks for your podcasts or radio shows (e.g., favorite track of the week) .
#8: Share track lists of your podcasts or radio shows with your fans first.
#9: Stick around to greet your fans in person after your shows.
#10: Post weekly or biweekly vlogs on YouTube that bring fans into your creative process.
#11: Give your email list access to a presale for your next release or show to ensure that they get first dibs on tickets or the first listen of your new tracks.
#12: Run an online giveaway for a limited-edition merch item, a backstage pass, or something else special and exclusive.
#13: Share previews of your new EP or album tracks and ask your fans to vote on the order of tracks for the official release. Not only do you give fans an opportunity to get involved, you also gain great insights on how to focus your promo budget for this release based on fan feedback.
#14: Hold an invite-only listening party in advance of your next release.
#15: Give your fan community a unique name that they’d be proud to call themselves (think: Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, Beyonce’s Beyhive, the Grateful Dead’s Deadheads, the KISS Army).
#16: Come up with a hashtag for your artist name, and like or comment on your fans’ posts that use it.
#17: If you have a strong hometown fanbase, organize a fun scavenger hunt around your city for a special prize, such as a backstage VIP experience or a chance to hang out with you.
#18: Give your fans the opportunity to be in your next music video.
#19: Spend some time at your merch booth (if you have one) before or after your set and give away small items for free, like a sticker or a guitar pick.
#20: Start a blog to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at your life as an artist.
#21: Let your superfans vote on the cover art for your next single or album.
#22: Use Facebook Live or YouTube Live to hold Q&A sessions, virtual meet-and-greets, and online concerts.
#23: Run a remix contest for your new track, and feature the best versions across all your social media pages with shout-outs.
#24: Offer your superfan email list a generous discount code for anything you’re selling.
#25: Organize, incentivize, and reward a digital street team.
#26: Provide an optional “birthday” field on your email signup form, and email fans “happy birthday!” on their special day.
#27: Create a private fan Facebook group with exclusive access for your superfans.
#28: Offer fans a free download when they sign up for your email list.
#29: Include a handwritten, personalized thank-you note for anyone who orders merch from you.
#30: Organize an AMA (“ask me anything”) live chat for your fans to get closer to your fans and gather great insights on what’s on their mind.
#31: If you have fan addresses in your contact list, send your most supportive fans a post card (yes, we’re talking about snail mail). You can use an app such as Felt to simplify the process and you will easily stand out from the crowd.
#32: Overall, treat your most important superfans as stars, and give them the same attention they give you – they may be as important to you as you are to them
What else are you doing to turn casual fans into superfans?