In last week’s post, we looked at how Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift got their start in the music industry. Today we’re going to take a deeper look at what gave Ed Sheeran his biggest push towards stardom and how he developed his fan base.
Writing Your Own Music
Let’s do a short recap. Ed Sheeran started playing his guitar at an early age. When he was 11, he went backstage to meet Damien Rice who encouraged him to start writing his own music.
At age 14 Sheeran went to London for the summer to see if he could generate interest in his music. Then at age 16, he moved to London gigging continuously, sleeping on the fan’s sofas. He also began recording his songs.
How much it costs to cut an album? According to Recording Connection, an album takes between 60 to 100 hours to finish depending on the musician’s skill level. One song can cost from $50 to $500 with a full album costing around $2000.
The next question is “How much can you make gigging?” Payscale.com states that pay for gigging can range for $50 to $1000 depending on the type of gig. A local musician playing for a few fans in a coffee shop, restaurant, or bar can range from $50 to $250 depending upon the artist and if they’ve developed a good fan base.
Let’s look at this. Sheeran started seriously gigging in 2006. At the same time, he recorded an album, with another one in 2007, and the third in 2009. He also played 300 live shows in 2009.
I know prices were different in 2006 and 2007, but as a new musician on the scene, he had to develop his fan base to be able to start bringing in more money gigging. Most of what he made had to go towards his recording. He did not sign with Atlantic records until after he had been No.1 on the iTune charts.
Create Your Fan Base
The big question is, “How do you build a fanbase?” and “What’s the difference between a fan base and a super fanbase?”
It doesn’t matter “whether you’re a musician, a movie star, a celebrity chef or a health and wellness guru,” Lawrence Court of disciplemedia.com states that “building, engaging and retaining your fanbase is essential.”
Court states that you need to go beyond a fanbase and build a community, a community that is highly engaged and inspired. But, you must start with a fan base.
The first step is to get your first fan on social media. A good place to start is Facebook. You can create a page, not your profile, that represents your music or whatever you are trying to promote. Facebook allows you to invite your friends to like your page. You can also communicate with your friends through Facebook Messenger.
With all the content available, people have become blind to all the ads that we see on television, the internet, etc. etc. Ads today have to be exceptional to even get our attention. The new marketing style is called “Conversational Marketing” or “Relational Marketing.”
Conversational marketing is a one-on-one conversation, where you learn about your potential customers or fans and create a more human engagement experience. This is the approach we have taken when marketing LarrySWarfieldMusic.com.
We first created a website then a Facebook page connecting the two with graphics, images, and blog posts. Samples of Larry’s music was placed on both the website and the Facebook page. The likes increased on his page by increasing our friends’ list and asking them to check out his music. His page likes increased from 70 to 231 in about two weeks.
It was a challenge conversing with people worldwide, some of the people you talk to on Facebook have ulterior motives. You also need to offer something free for an engagement incentive. If you’ve been on the internet you’ve seen offers for free eBooks, free courses, free music, you name it and you can find it free. We all like to get free stuff, don’t we?
We put a sample of Larry’s song on his Facebook page with a free full MP3 for those who went to his website and registered, giving us their name and email address. The free MP3 is a limited time offer. When the song is released online then the free MP3 goes away.
Sheeran began building his fan base by gigging and putting videos of his performances on YouTube. In 2006, when Sheeran started gigging, Facebook had only been around for two years. Now, in the age of social media, there are many more options available.
Be Your Own PR Person
According to Court from disciplemedia.com, one of the most important things in building your fan base is public relations (PR). Establishing a positive public image is just as important as creating your brand, that we hear so much about today. Public Relations includes establishing contacts with the press and media to help get your name out to the public.
Turning Your Fan Base Into A Super Fanbase
Your fan base becomes your super fan base or community, however, you want to say it, when they follow all your posts or concerts, buy your albums and merchandise, but mostly, interact with you on a regular basis.
One musician on Facebook has about 400K likes but has a super fan base of around 40K. She interacts with them on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. She’s always putting out challenges or questions that keep her fans interacting with her. One important part of her interaction is email. She recently put out a new album. She started weeks before the release by asking questions, requesting suggestions. Her music is Celtic so she had a big release party planned in Ireland, I believe, where her super fans traveled to be part of her celebration. She is the perfect example of turning her fanbase into a tight-knit community.
I hope this has given you ideas to start pondering about how to get started building your fan base online.
In the next post, we will delve deeper into the subject of what is needed to create an online following to get your music heard.