Make Your Fanbase Into a Tribe

In the last couple days I’ve been listening to the audiobook Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin. Throughout the book, Godin describes the passion and risk-taking needed to truly lead your own tribe. The tribe that you have the ability to create is analogous to your fanbase. Think of the droves of people who flocked to Grateful Dead concerts, called “Deadheads”, who kept buying tickets even though the Dead were not Billboard chart-toppers. The Grateful Dead created a tribe out of their fans, that is, a loyal group of people who followed the band throughout their career. The same goes for Slayer, Phish, and the Dave Matthews Band because they created an aura about them where fans felt like they were part of the tribe.

One of the key points that Godin makes in his book is that you don’t need to have thousands or tens of thousands of followers in your tribe. The magic number Godin says is 1,000. Imagine if each one of those 1,000 dedicated people could convince just a few friends to come to your concert or buy your music or merch. Those 1,000 people could make a true difference—admittedly, that many followers is still a big number for new artists.

Start off small! No one said creating a tribe (or fanbase) would be easy. Create value where there was no value before. Distinguish yourself from the pack by adding things that most people don’t spend the time to release to their potential fans. Here’s a few ideas to get things rolling:

1) Make remixing easy

If you have a song with many different and interesting tracks (whether  with electronic music tracks or conventional instruments), offer the stems for each track in separated files. That way if other artists or music enthusiasts with access to recording software really dig your song, they can play around with each individual track on their computer and maybe even post a remix of your song online. I know I’ve found many good songs after first discovering a memorable remix. You can widen your audience with just a little extra work.

2) What about the gear?

Some gearheads and DJs really like to know how you recorded your music. Depending on the genre of music you produce, there might be many people in your fanbase that are hardcore recording geeks. Let them in on your tools of the trade! It’s not like it’s a secret.

3) The power of art

Many up-and-comers are quick to upload their music online, but often never put in any time thinking how they want to present their music BEFORE a listener actually presses ‘play’. Most people are drawn in by a visual, so if you don’t put a picture on your profile or create some sort of representation of your image as an artist, chances are many potential listeners will ignore your music. If you had the choice between listening to someone’s music who also had an interesting display picture on their profile or to someone with a stock photo or blank image, who would you listen to? Who is probably the more serious artist?

4) An engaging bio

Keep it short and sweet. If it’s not, then at least make it entertaining along the way. Thanks!