How to Build a Fanbase In The Digital Music Age

How to Build a Fanbase In The Digital Music Age


If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you already realize things have drastically changed in the music industry.



Younger millennials might not know any different, but most people sense that we are living in the Wild West era of the music business and everything is topsy-turvy.


We’re all thinking… what the heck do I do now?

How do I get fans?

I don’t know where to begin. Where should I start?

How do I utilize social media to build a buzz?

How do I market my music?



And so on…



With that comes many voices, many opinions, and clashing ideas, especially when it comes to the perception that the music industry is dead due to file sharing.


Some people want more government control over the internet to try and “regulate” what’s happening.


Others see the beauty of a genuinely free market for the first time in a LONG time.


It’s been a while since we’ve had a landscape where talented musicians can “make it” without the help of a major record label.


I believe this has only happened because of the freedom of the internet and, quite frankly, the lack of regulation.


If it weren’t for this exact Wild West landscape, I would still be completely unknown in my genre and my music would still be undiscovered in my basement.


That’s a fact.


And it’s why I’ve become so passionate about sharing my knowledge with others.


After all, if a mother with five children who doesn’t tour & rarely plays live can make a full-time living as a recording artist, strictly by promoting her music online……. then no one has any excuse!






I still have that pinch-me feeling every day.



How did I do it?



I’m glad you asked.


The biggest struggle for musicians is “I don’t know how to build a fanbase.


I understand this one!


And it’s a good thing you’re thinking about this because it’s an obvious and critical piece of the puzzle to becoming successful and making a living.


The key is building a fanbase – you are right.


But not just any fans…



Right now, I want to address a common myth so many people have:

that you need as many fans as humanly possible to follow you, and then you’ll be successful and become famous, and you’ll go viral, and finally make some money.




You DO NOT need millions of fans. You DO NOT need hundreds of thousands of followers, or YouTube views, or viral videos in order to become successful and make a living.


We need to get this idea out of your head right now!


In fact, we cannot go any further if you don’t consciously make an effort to red-flag this thought and idea in your mind, immediately.


Everything else I say from here on out will do you no good if you can’t get past this idea.


You don’t need millions of fans; you don’t need hundreds of thousands; you don’t even need tens of thousands.


You don’t want high numbers of irrelevant fans!


Or high numbers of fans who might have heard your name, but don’t care that much.




Because fans who may have heard your name but don’t care that much don’t BUY music.


We must not confuse ourselves with the big corporate labels and big corporate advertising agencies whose sole purpose is to spend millions of dollars on making millions of people familiar with a song, until hopefully the masses become so saturated with this familiar song that they buy it.


That might translate into a tiny percentage of people who actually buy, and the record label hopes to make their millions invested back.


Do you have millions lying around for this type of approach?


Didn’t think so. 🙂


Neither do I.


So what can we do then? How are we supposed to gain fans AND make a living if we can’t spend millions on exposure to the masses?


I’ll tell you.


It’s relationship with a very select few superfans.


What do I mean?


Well first, you need to ask yourself, what makes you buy an album from another independent or underground artist?


This is actually a deeper question than you might realize.


For me, if I buy music from someone who is NOT mainstream, and is not well-known, it’s for a few reasons:


1. I like their music.

2. I know them (or feel like I do) and I want to support them.

3. I like their story, background, or whatever it is they stand for.

4. The way they make me feel with their music.

5. The way they make me feel as a fan. The way they interact with me or their fanbase.


Some of those reasons overlap, but you see what I mean.


They are probably the same reasons you buy and support other bands/artists you know and love that are less well-known.


So, you can see that the reason you and I spend money with these bands is because of the artist/fan relationship, versus mass exposure and familiarity.


Even if you are an artist in a very big genre, like pop, you still need to take this approach.


Do not make the mistake of trying to approach your music career like a big label or big advertising agency.


You need to think like the small mom-and-pop coffee shop in the small village, where everyone stops by and hangs out, and everyone knows each other’s names, and they’re there to live and commune, and occasionally buy.


If you can tweak this one idea in your mind as an artist… you are WAY AHEAD of everyone else.


Changing this mindset is the absolute gold mine to the rest of your music career.


Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.

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Leah Mchenry

Leah McHenry understands the real world challenges for every-day musicians because she is one.

Having started her music career completely backwards, she found herself learning the NEW music business long after she already started a family and was unable to tour.

Leah now spends her time continuing her own music career while applying the real-world marketing strategies herself, and is also dedicated to helping other independent artists do the same.