The internet is a veritable treasure trove of information, but at the core of it all are three key principles to increasing your income and at the foundation is – increase your fanbase.

These principles are fairly basic, and critically important.

The Three Ways to Increase Your Income:

1. Increase your number of clients (fanbase).


2. Increase the frequency of purchase (how often your fans buy from you). To do this, you’d better have more than just music to sell!


3. Strategize to make a sustainable living.


Okay, none of these three things are brain surgery. But from a musician’s perspective, they bring up some interesting points.

I’ve said in previous posts that you cannot market music online in the same way you would market a diet product, or car insurance. Traditional internet marketing – in my opinion – doesn’t work very well for music. Why is this? Products that sell online tend to solve people’s problems (like losing weight or saving money). In order to market music effectively, you need to approach the whole thing a bit differently.

With a little customization and savvy strategy, musicians can use those three basic principles to increase their own bottom line in the digital space. I’m going to focus on each principle in turn, digging into the practical things you can do as a musician to increase your income.



Before I get into the nitty gritty details, I just want to caution you: while you’re out searching for new fans, don’t forget the ones you already have. 

These fans don’t need to be found, because they’re already following you!

Studies have proven that it is much harder to make a new client and get them to purchase something, than it is to get a client that already knows and trusts you to purchase from you over and over.

I always tell my clients that the best place to start marketing a new product (album, merch, etc.) is your newsletter. This is the only place where you can directly engage with your fans on your own terms. Not Facebook’s terms, and not Twitter’s terms. For this reason, your newsletter is perhaps your most powerful internet marketing tool.

10 Fail-Safe Ways to Increase/ Engage With Your Fan Base

Here are 10 fail-safe ways to increase / engage with your fanbase. Many of these tips help you take full advantage of the crowds of people who already know and like you!

1. Get serious about your newsletter.

Use  Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to send your newsletter at least once per month. Track the effectiveness of your emails by monitoring open and click rates.

2. Mine your inbox and outbox for names and addresses to add.

Ask all of your friends if it’s OK to add them to your list, otherwise your account may be labeled as spam.

3. Bring a clipboard OR get a burner phone

Invite people onto your mailing list with a raffle or giveaway from stage, and collect e-mail addresses.  During your performance, hold the CD up on stage and then give it away: you’ve just inserted a full commercial into your set without feeling “salesy” and you’ve excited one of your fans by giving them a gift. Or get a cheap phone and ask fans to text you their email straight from stage!

4. Include a special offer on your website’s home page with a free exclusive MP3 or video.

Use one of Noisetrade’s free download widgets, or the Reverbnation Fan Collector.

TIP: Make sure this download is not available anywhere.  Not streaming on your Facebook page.  Only on your website.

And of course it can also be available for purchase on your CD, but make sure that no one can get it anywhere else online. This will motivate people to sign up to your mailing list!

5. Follow 25 new people a week on Twitter. Engage with them!

6. Send out e-mails to your most engaged fans on Facebook and ask if you can have their e-mail addresses for your newsletter.  This is a bit arduous but the results will pay off.

7. Do the same with Instagram

8. Start a blog and start sharing photos and stories and thoughts. Take full advantage of Instagram!

9. Start a podcast or a vodcast and interview other artists with big followings.

Ask them to share your podcast with their fans and followers.  It doesn’t have to be a big production.  It can be a small, informal video at YouTube.  Click here to see mine.

10. Ask your fans to follow you on Spotify, and review your music on SoundCloud, CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.


These 10 tips will get you well on your way to a successful internet marketing strategy.


Good luck, and as always, let us know if you want some professional help! Click HERE to tell us more about you, and learn about all the different ways we can help.

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How Do You Build Your Fan Base?

The next blog post in this series attacks principle number two, increasing the frequency of purchase. In the meantime, I would love to hear how you build your fan base in the comment section below!

12 Responses to “Music Marketing Tips – Part 1: Increase Your Fanbase”

  1. Will

    Building a list and following up with offers are crucial. I prefer to use a general email service like rather than a band-focused email service. You can also offer your list products that you don’t make, using affilate offers of products you like. These emails can be autoloaded so they get sent out on a regular basis automatically.

    Since selling mp3s has fairly low value these days, you have to find things of higher value to sell. Most musicians focus on selling their cds or merchandise but there are many spinoffs or things you may know about that you could charge for.

    The ‘Ali Brown’s’ of the world are charging thousands of dollars for 10 cd sets and seminars. They repurpose their content in various formats of higher perceived value. So we can try to replicate this by selling ‘home study courses’ for songwriting, singing lesson, guitar lessons, or anything else you have expertise in.

    I see musicians traditionally working at music stores, gigging and playing guitar on the street and it makes me sad that most won’t be able to support their music careers.

  2. Twitted by dhuman

    […] This post was Twitted by dhuman – […]

  3. Jami Jackson

    This is a great article! I think that we defintiely should utilize the social sites to ask for email addresses. This is the best way to grow a list.

  4. Alex

    Awesome advice. As an independent artist trying to build a following and career, this type of advice is incredibly helpful. Keep it up!

  5. Gorilla Liz

    These are great examples that go great with the grass-roots promotions approach we teach the bands in our artist development program. Thanks for all the new internet marketing tips!

  6. Allyssa

    Thanks for this, Ariel! What I appreciate most is your recommendation to have everything linking back to my official site. My practice has been to send my newsletter to my subscribers, then send or post it in full on my Facebook music page, MySpace and other places. Really, what I need to do is use the social networking sites as gateways- not alternatives- to my official site. I heard the same message in terms of CD and merch sales at a marketing session I attended ASCAP Expo last month. I’m sure I’m not the only artist who is looking to focus their marketing efforts, to work smarter instead of flailing around internet.

    Thanks also for the tips on using Twitter following and ReverbNation widgets more effectively. Looking forward to trying those!

    To Will- I agree with your thoughts about increasing value by expanding one’s “products” beyond mp3’s. In addition, I have found that my biggest activity/subscriber spikes happen when I’ve participated in a cause or other event where I haven’t been focused on selling myself. Too often we focus on hustle for hustle’s sake and forget that music is at its best about creating community. Communities tend to develop lives of their own that feed the artists they grew around.

  7. KSE

    Ariel has always published some of the best ‘free’ advice on the Internet.

    We are advocates of making fan based building one of the highest priorities an artist has. In, Texas, the first thing a venue owner/booking agent will ask you is: “How many fans will come to see you, if we book you?” If you give them a number that is not real, I can assure you, you will not get a second chance, unless you guarantee them the difference out of your pocket.

    What kind of fans do you need? WE call them TBF (True Blue Fans), which means, they support you in ALL that you do, including coming to your shows and buying your merch. They are your street team workers in each city; they are your advocates, wherever they go & to whomever they meet; they are your ‘wheels’ that keep your career moving forward; they show up at your shows with new fans.

    As an artist you acknowledge them each and every day; you provide them with free tickets; you provide them with backstage access from time to time; you make a ‘special’ section on your website, only accessible to them. Most artist have no ideal of how much work they should be doing. And, you can find out a lot about artist by just follow them on their social networks sites & I mean: How dedicated they really are, then they wonder why the world is not knocking on their door each day & buy their M&M’s (music & merchandise).

    Music Success is a long & never ending road. An artist has to keep moving down or up that road, each day, or they will get run over.

    Ariel’s approach and her programs can help any artist, plus, they are priced for just about any budget. If they are not affordable, then I would suggest an artist get enough side work to afford them.


  8. KSE

    Lowering the price can make money, provided the demand is there.

  9. Melody Gross

    These are great tips. Some I’ve shared with my own clients.

  10. Shannon Kennedy

    These are all really great tips.  I’ve already put a lot of them into practice, but I think my twitter might need more attention than I’ve been giving it. I look forward to reading parts 2 and 3.

  11. Karen Davis

    Very simple but helpful advice – especially the ‘clipboard to every appearance’ thing. We’ve forgotten it several times, and not having it is a great way to lose fans. As of now, the clip board goes into the gig case, with my gig guitar and does not come out except at shows and then at home to add email addresses. Thanks for the reminder. Following people on twitter is also a great way to connect with other musicians and fans. Doing that right after I put the clipboard in the gig case.

  12. Michael Williams

    Nice article loved it


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