As I'm sure you know, you fan base is one of the most important parts of your musical journey. After all, it's your fans who you're providing your music to, and it's your fans who will largely determine how successful you are. Even if you get big DJs to play you, if the fans don't like what they hear, they simply won't buy into you.
There are two approaches you can take when it comes to dealing with fans:
- You can distance yourself from them (E.G. Not interact with them on your social networking sites) to intentionally put a barrier between them you. This is so it feels like you're unreachable, and therefore at a higher level. You're someone that is admired from a distance.
- You can talk to your fans over social networking sites and build up a personal relationship with them.
In all honesty, both methods can work. When you fan base is still quite small, though, and you need to do everything you can to get and keep fans, I suggest you go with the second method.
When you embrace fans and communicate with them on their level, they will start to grow a bond with you. You're no longer someone they're looking at from afar (and will most likely eventually get bored of); you're a friend with talent that they will want to help succeed. You're not just another one of the many musicians out there; you're someone special to them, and they're on your team.
Without ongoing interaction, people easily get bored. With so many other things on the internet fighting for their attention, if you don't do things to stay in fans' minds, you quite simply won't. It's because of this, that you need to do what you can to make sure people that show interest keep coming back for more.
How to Interact with Your Fan Base
Here are some ways you can go above and beyond to interact with your fan base. These things won't take up too much of your time, but can make a real difference when it comes to how many people turn into your long-term fans.
- Ask for Their Opinions.
One of the easiest ways to get people to feel a real part of your music career, is to ask them for their opinions. It's a simple thing to do, but it can make people feel so special.
By asking them to give you ideas for your songs, what they think about your new outfit, or what they particularly like about a song of yours, you're showing them that their opinion matters. When people feel like they matter, they become more enthusiastic about the topic.
Show your fans they're really important by listening to and thanking them for their opinion.
- Give Them an Exclusive Membership Area.
One method that I'm a big proponent of is giving your fans access to an exclusive membership club. This is an area on your website that allows people to sign up and receive exclusive goodies from you that they won't be able to get if they aren't a member.
You can give out a free membership where they get, say, two new updates a month. You can then also have a paid membership where they get 4 or more new updates a month, plus access to valuable content that the free members don't see.
They benefit for them is that they get a lot of content that other people don't get (when something is “exclusive,” they have bragging rights and will feel more involved with you). The benefit to you is you either get an email address from your “free” members (which you can then use to contact them in future and get them interested in other things you're doing), and payments/contact details from your paid members.
Setting up your own membership site is one of those things you should do close to when you first set up a base online.
- Interacting on Social Networking Sites.
One of the easiest ways you can interact with fans is to talk to them on social networking sites. For example, if you have a Facebook or Twitter page, when your fans message you, you can reply to them and show them this is a two way relationship.
I'd advise you to encourage your fans to interact with you publicly on your wall, rather than via private messaging. This will give social proof to anyone that comes to your page for the first time, and shows that you're popular and people want to interact with you. This will give people the impression you're worth talking to, and in turn they will be more tempted to get involved.
When people private message you, this same sort of social proof isn't displayed. You'll also spend longer replying to people individually, rather then addressing an issue to everyone all at once.
- Running Competitions.
While you won't want to do this all the time as its effectiveness will be decreased, you will occasionally want to run a competition for your fans to get involved with. While you can do a smaller prize such as winning a copy of your EP or new single, why not occasionally offer something of real value? For example, as a one off, you could run a competition for someone to be featured on one of your songs. This could be in terms of a verse if they're talented enough, or in terms of a talking spot in an introduction or outro.
Alternatively, why not run a prize where they can meet you for lunch?
Whatever you decide, be sure to have enough people you can reach before you run this type of competition. If you can't let enough people know about it, you won't get many people entering and it might not be worth your time. One of the main reasons to run competitions is to gain exposure, and if you won't be able to achieve this, it may not be worth doing at the moment.