Building a Fan Base One Town at a Time

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It’s important to start small and local when building a fan base. Don’t under estimate the power of a local following. It is the key to national recognition. Following these simple steps will give indie bands and artists sound advice when it comes to growing a fan base to a national level.

I’m going to start with a quick story. I walked into a music store in a small town and started chatting with the owner while my eyes roamed over the items on the counter. The normal stuff was there… picks, strings, gig postings and local musicians’ cards. Then I saw something that surprised me… a CD of an artist from around my way, almost a thousand miles away. “How did you get this” I asked the owner. He replied, “Oh, one of my customers heard about him from a friend who lives out there and asked me to stock his CDs. I contacted him and purchased a few of his albums. He’s pretty good.”…Believe it or not, a customer’s recommendation, aka, word of mouth advertising, is the most powerful advertising method known. If you want to get known in the music industry, whether you are an alternative rocker indie, rapper or pop singer, you simply must get people talking about you. This kind of advertising is priceless and it all starts in your own hometown. Conquer your hometown and you can move on to commanding national attention and building a fan base one town at a time.

Don’t consider your small town … small stuff. In your hometown… you will experience the “home court advantage”;… people will love you just because you’re one of their own. Being the top dog in your hometown will give you an idea of whether or not to branch out into neighboring towns. In fact, if you can’t establish a solid fan base in your own town, you probably won’t be able to spread out into other towns and the chances of getting national or international attention will be slim.

So, what do you do after you conquer your own turf? … In a word or two, move on… Start playing live gigs in nearby communities, spreading your net and increasing your fan base… Here are a few tips to help you increase your fan base.

1. Always leave your fans satisfied, yet wanting more.
2. Give away free CDs or T-shirts imprinted with your name, CD title, or promotional message.
3. Create an MP3 recording and tell them where to download it off the Internet for free.
4. If the towns you are playing in are small, focus on high school and college kids, offering to play free gigs to get your foot in the door. Remember you are working on making a name for yourself and your goal is to become successful on a large scale, not just locally.
5. Create a press release kit with professional photos and a bio of your band; send this to media outlets where you will be playing, well in advance of your gig there.
6. Start collecting email addresses of fans in each town where you perform. Keep them informed on where you will be and what’s going on with the band.
7. Don’t ever forget that it’s your fans, starting in your own home town… that are hopefully going to propel you into the limelight. Without them you are nothing.

As you’re building a fan base, one town at a time, you will meet lots of people, some of whom will be your competitors. It is a good idea to make friends with your competitors… and be willing to share your knowledge and talent with them. Treat competitors like members in the same private club, not like an enemy. Remember the golden rule; it’s always appropriate to “do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”

About the Author

CL deals in all aspects of the music industry from audio and video production to marketing and promotions. He is currently working on projects involving internet television, internet radio and live music performances across the United States. His primary focus is the independent music community. Visit his website at for more information.

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