How can I build a fan base?
Get out there and work at it. Offer to play clubs for free that are reluctant to book you. If you win over the crowd (or bring a healthy crowd of your own) they’ll have you back. Do this in an ever-widening regional circle, returning on a regular basis, and you will eventually build a regional fan base.
You need to start branching out and stop playing in the same geographical area night after night.
People are less likely to come to your show on a Friday night when they know they can see you Saturday or Sunday night… or sometime next week. You are burning out your audiences and it is ruining your ability to earn more money from venue operators. Go do this NOW, so you can build up your fan base. Play more cities and make your shows back home MEAN something when they do happen.
Stop spending three- and four-thousand dollars on EPs when you have no e-mail subscribers to market them to.
It is a waste of money. You might think that investing thousands of dollars into the discs means that the labels should too. It isn’t happening until you have a fan base to sell to.
Your mission should be to compete against every other form of entertainment available to your fans.
If you want people to pass up other entertainment options, like the movies or just a dinner out, and to spend their hard earned money on you… then they will need to know that their night out with you will be a memorable one. If you want people to come out and support live music, you are going to have to become the better option. If you can’t be the best thing in your hometown, you’re not going to be the best thing in the world. Think about it.
Build and maintain a database of ground and e-mail addresses of your fans.
Always look for opportunities to add names to your mailing list. Keep them up to date on your gigs and any other important news. Offer free tickets, t-shirts or other incentives.
Put together a “street team” of fans in areas where you play who can help promote your shows, and spread the word.
Many young, die-hard fans will work like crazy just to be recognized, included on the guest list, and be considered something of an insider.
UPC and Soundscan Registration
When you finally build up your fanbase you can start producing CDs for sale, and be sure to include a Universal Product Code (aka a “bar code”) and register your product with Soundscan (the service used to track record sales). This allows A&R research people at record companies to notice and track your sales from their offices.
Be creative. Go where your audience is.
Does your music appeal to high school students? Play lunchtime shows at high schools. Or shopping malls.
Trade gigs with like-minded bands in your general region.
Offer to have them open for you at clubs where you draw well. In return you open for them in their strong areas.
There isn’t any one road map or required way to build a following. There are techniques that work well, and you are free to come up with your own ideas, too.
We’re here to help.