Every musician is constantly trying to build a dedicated fanbase. The ways in which you can do this have changed drastically over the last decade due to the internet and social media. Young fans (commonly referred to as ‘millenials’) are particularly interesting to study, as they have grown up in a completely different musical listening environment to any generation previously. MTV conducted a study in 2012 to examine how these fans function. We take a look at what sort of fans Millennials can be, and what you can do to make them love you.
“Music to The M Power”: 7 points to considerAs Hypebot and viacom reported, MTV’s study revealed 7 key observations about millennials’ listening habits:
- Zero-distancing: artists are expected to be accessible 24/7 on social media, sharing personal moments with fans.
- Artist as friend: 75% of millennials said they felt a stronger connection to musicians who are open about who they really are, 53% said that the more an artist shares online about themselves, the closer fans feel to them, and 91% said it’s OK if an artist has some flaws, as it makes them human and likeable.
- Daily Feed: fans expect artists to use each social media channel in the appropriate way. Facebook is considered the most ‘official’ source of information regarding tour dates, announcements, etc., while Twitter should be used to give an immediate “blow-by-blow” account. Instagram offers fans the chance to see the world through the artist’s eyes, and Tumblr is considered to be the most intimate way of seeing inside the artist’s psyche.
- Co-Creation: fans want to be able to work with artists via social media, making their own parodies and covers, and receive positive feedback from the artist on these creations.
- Music is on shuffle: 85% of millenials agreed that “it’s cooler to listen to a diverse range of music versus one genre.” Fans are no longer engaged in the mods. vs. rockers battles of the 60s – they are much more likely to love a vast range of genres, saving and sharing music from different eras on their iTunes accounts and playlists.
- There’s no such thing as selling out: millenials understand that modern musicians need different sources of income to support their careers. As long as the brand fits the artist’s image and integrity, it seems to be an accepted way of making things work, and not regarded as a negative ‘sell out’.
- Buying music is symbolic patronage: modern fans grew up in an era where you no longer had to pay for the music you listened to. The industry is working hard to create new models that embrace technology but continue to ensure that artists receive payments. Millenials appreciate this when they like the artist enough, but 68% of fans said that they only pay for music out of respect for the artist, but they believe that music should be free. 81% said that the closer they feel to an artist, the more likely they are to buy the music.
What does this mean?It’s time for some authenticity and generosity. As MusicClout reported, this is not the moment to hold back and be secretive. Artists can get too caught up in trying to seem cool or make the maximum amount of profit, but in fact this is an era in the industry where genuine interaction and mutual appreciation will get you the best long-term fans.
How can you do this?
- Never spam: mailing lists and social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr are all crucial ways of interacting with your fans, and letting them know your news and tour dates. Make sure you keep it personal. Even if you are signed to a major label, don’t stop writing your own messages, and keeping your online voice as true to yourself and your artistic aesthetic as possible. You don’t need to have a marketing manager writing all your updates. Fans don’t mind if you make spelling mistakes or write strange things, they just want to know that it’s really you.
- Give some content away:as MTV’s research showed, modern fans are willing to pay for music out of respect for the artists they love, not because they feel an inherent sense of duty or obligation. That means that you have to win their love. Don’t be stingy, especially at the start of your career. You’ll benefit later if you offer some free downloads, free video content, or free little pieces of merchandise to your fans. This will give them to motivation to share your music with their friends, and help you make more money in the long run.
- Create beautiful experiences and moments: modern fans operate on a very visual and personal level. Everyone can check out your music online and your videos on YouTube already, so you have to be able to create and offer something more. Let your fans get close to you, meet you, hang out backstage, and allow them document these moments and share them with their friends. Make an effort to do different things at different gigs, and tailor the experiences as much as you can. Offer a variety of rewards, downloads, and images, to make your cocktail of experiences as enticing and unique as possible. If you give someone an evening to remember they will be loyal forever – remember, Steve Rennie’s first experience of a Rolling Stones gig impressed him so much that he loved the band forever, and decided from that moment on that he wanted to work in the music industry!
The key is to get personal, and make friends with your fans. Social media has made it easier than ever before to do this. In spite of the scary implications of the idea that millenials believe music should be free, there are many signs that it is still respected as an art form worth paying for if you approach your fans in the right way. Keep it genuine, and keep it coming!
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