One way to define success as an indie artist is by achieving financial sustainability. Put simply this means operating an enterprise that turns an ongoing profit. Preferably the profit will be substantial enough for you to pursue your artistic endeavour without having to ‘sell your soul’ working a depressing slasher job to fund your dream.
It can be really tough trying to push your music career forward when you’re juggling other commitments, so with the limited time you have it’s important to prioritise your focus in the right way.
There is an effective formula for career success that sounds simple but takes dedication and skill to execute. If done right, this formula is guaranteed to enable a successful and sustainable career, the caveat being that artists must have a high quality musical product and a well branded image. Assuming that, then this formula is bulletproof.
The formula is a 4 step process as follows:
Find Your Fanbase —> Grow the Fanbase —> Nurture the Fanbase —> Monetise the Fanbase
There are only 4 steps to this process, but none of the steps can be neglected and each step has to be well executed for this to work. Let’s delve a little deeper into each part.
1. Find Your Fanbase
Finding your fanbase is much easier than it used to be pre-digital technology. Once upon a time the only viable option to find fans was to hit the road and tour extensively along with hiring a publicist to connect with the right media publications and radio stations.
These days we are globally connected via social media and streaming platforms. By targeting potential new fans based on preferences that are likely to align with your sound, you can locate a much larger audience and one that you have a more direct line to.
2. Grow Your Fanbase
While gaining visibility via traditional media, radio stations and even blogs is certainly helpful, this should not form the entire core strategy. Success with media can expand your fanbase rapidly but this is never a given. If you are unable to communicate directly with the consumers and invite them further into your ecosystem then it can be much harder to grow your fanbase this way.
People may become aware of you by reading an article in a mag, but they may or may not take further action from there. You must have a direct line to be able to engage with them. Obtaining likes and follows on digital platforms is an important an part of the strategy as is obtaining their email address.
3. Nurture Your Fanbase
While you’re growing your followers on all digital platforms and funnelling them into your email database using clever and effective strategies, you must be nurturing and engaging with them simultaneously.
Marketing strategies should mirror real life relationships in that it’s inappropriate (and annoying) to barge into someone’s world and start asking them to buy your product or come to your shows immediately, without educating them on who you are and nurturing the relationship using generosity first.
4. Monetise Your Fanbase
Last but certainly not least is the golden key to tying this entire strategy together. Once you have grown your fanbase effectively, once you have nurtured them and created a highly engaged and committed fanbase, then and only then, should you start proposing that they support you financially in some way.
Like I mentioned earlier, this strategy requires some expertise to execute. Indie artists need an increasing set of entrepreneurial skills to achieve career success. Skills such as copywriting, digital advertising, online marketing and even psychology. Engage team members where needed and up-skill as much as possible. Use the fanbase as your compass and you will always be heading in the right direction.