Having a music career in the 21st century is all about finding a balance between acquiring and maintaining your fan base, and consistently creating new content.
Of course, these things go hand in hand – if you’re constantly creating, you’re gaining new fans and keeping your current fans engaged.
The problem is, artists are not an inexhaustible fountain of content. They need time to write, to experiment, to build a vision, to reflect and to live.
The industry is always telling artists to be posting consistently. Fair enough, but it’s just as important to spend time thinking about your larger vision and working towards longer term goals.
How can you keep fans engaged while you do this work? Here are a few ways you can stay connected.
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Create A Social Media Content Schedule & Follow It
The number one thing you can do to keep people engaged on social media is create a content schedule and follow it.
If you are constantly thinking “what should I post today?” you will end up frustrated. You need to build up content and then release it on a schedule. Force yourself to stick with it.
Build your plan out three months in advance, and center it around whatever type of content you have coming up. Doing this will force you to get those new pictures done, make that video, record those cover songs, and then put them out.
The great part about having a plan is that you can post more than your plan lays out. If you have a show coming up or get a cool opportunity, post about it!
In this manner, you can engage your fan base consistently.
Stagger Your Releases To Fans
Putting out a new single can easily occupy two months of social media activity. Between teasing artwork, teasing videos, releasing videos, releasing a live video/lyric video/music video, and releasing the song, there is a lot you can do.
Most of the streaming services need six to eight weeks to review your song and see if it will fit on playlists. Instead of releasing the song as soon as possible, hold yourself to a longer schedule, and use the time in between to promote and create.
If you're planning to release a larger body of work, like an album, make sure to lay out your release schedule and social media schedule carefully.
Engage With Fans Personally
Take some time to respond to comments and DMs, and thank your fans. You don’t have to respond to every single one, but it can pay dividends.
For one thing, it makes fans less likely to un-follow and forget about you. Imagine getting a response from your favorite artists – it would feel great, right? You have the power to do that, and make a forever fan!
Social media algorithms also favor accounts that are responding to fans, so you’ll get a little bit of extra reach out of this.
Use Instagram Stories To Involve Your Fan Base
Certain types of content require a more serious release strategy: albums, singles, videos, tours, etc. Other types of content are lighthearted and fun.
When you’re working on music, take a few videos to post on your Instagram Story. If you’re out a show, do the same thing. If you’re out partying, let people in on that!
There is a strong culture of responding to stories on Instagram. Try to make your stories frequent and interesting.
Stories are great, but can also be annoying. I’ve muted a few accounts that post too many stories. Find an artist who posts stories you’re always excited to check out – model your Stories after that!
Encourage Remixes, Covers, Instrumentals & Fan Art
There are many ways to drag out a release. The dance, hip-hop, and R&B scene have been masters of releasing and re-releasing music for quite some time.
Encouraging your fans to do remixes of your music will increase their loyalty to you, as they will have put their own sweat into the song. All you need to do is release the stems.
Encouraging covers does the same thing – your fans will have to spend time learning and memorizing the song. Make sure to re-post covers when people make them.
Releasing instrumentals is another great way to keep fans engaged. People love instrumentals, because you can listen to them while you’re working.
Your nerdier fans will enjoy listening to the production without having vocals. It can be fascinating to hear what the track sounds like without lyrics.
On the visual end, some fans love making fan art. These are usually portraits of the artists, recreations of album art, or recreations of shows – but they can also be more complicated and fantastical!
Encourage your fans to create and post fan art. Make sure to re-post the art when it comes up, and be grateful that they would spend their time making art for you!
Ask Questions On Social Media
People love sharing their opinion (for better or worse). Post a picture and ask fans to chime in.
Where should you tour to next? What was their favorite song from this year? What was their favorite lyric? Who should you get to open your next show?
You can also ask questions that have nothing to with your music, or nothing to do with music at all.
Who was their favorite musical discovery this year? What is something they are proud of this year? Where do they live? How did they find your music?
Think of different questions you could be asking and get your fans to engage.
Contests & Giveaways
I’m always a little hesitant about contests and giveaways, because I think they can look a little tacky. That said, there is no question that people go bananas for free stuff.
Here is how to set up a classic giveaway, say for free tickets to your next show:
- Post a picture, telling your fans about the show and the details.
- Have fans “like” the picture, and in the comments, tag someone they want to go to the show with.
- Make sure your fans are following you.
- Choose a couple names out of the list of people. Verify that they “liked” the picture and follow you. Then, announce the winners and make sure they get their tickets.
You can use this strategy for all sorts of stuff. Merch giveaways, ticket giveaways, guest list to the show, etc.
Drop New Merch, New Pictures & New Art
In the digital age, your visual aesthetic is almost as important as your music. For some artists, it’s equally as important if not more important.
Dropping new merch can be as exciting as a new single if your fans are into your brand. Tease merch releases and merch art.
Ask your fans what they would like to see from your merch. Are they loving a few key pieces? Would they like to see more selection?
Being curious about what fans want from your merch will only help you sell more merch. It’s a win-win situation. Fans get to engage and share, and you get to survey your fans.
Dropping new pictures and branding pieces can keep people excited and engaged. If you’ve got great style, post your drip. Let people know what you’re wearing. No need to brag, just be cool and be you!
Posting album art, single art, design ideas and other visual elements of your brand is a great way to get people more invested in what you’re doing.
Make sure to tease the art that accompanies whatever your next release is. Talk a bit about what the art means to you and who made it. People love knowing the backstory!
Don’t Be Afraid To Post About Trending Issues
Artists tend to be on the extreme ends of the political spectrum. Some are extremely political. Others don't dare touch the subject.
Sharing political opinions, or any opinions at all on social media is a personal decision.
If you’re not comfortable with potentially alienating some of your fans, you may not want to get political. But using your platform to stand up for what you believe in may also deepen your connections with fans that have a similar viewpoint.
If you are certain that your fans won’t be turned off by your opinions on something, feel free to share!
If you are worried that it will turn people off, don’t worry about it, there is no pressure to share. Also, if you feel you are not adequately informed on an issue, don’t post about it. Nobody likes looking like an idiot.
Keep The Music Coming
Above all, keep making and releasing new music.
If you’re not constantly releasing new music, you’ve got to tour to connect with fans. You’ve got to engage them on social media.
Collaborate with other artists and release that music. Encourage covers and remixes – involve your fans!
The whole reason people follow you is because they connect with your music. All of your activity on social media should be centered around that connection, so you must nurture it.
The number one way to nurture your musical connection to your fans is to release more music they love.