It is obvious that building a fan base is essential when making a career for yourself in the music industry. To monetise your fan base you need a pretty established following (not a large following!) of people you interact with. For example, if you have a following of 10,000 on Facebook / Twitter but no one likes, shares or comments then these aren’t fans you can monetise. If you have a following of 1000 and you get a good amount of interaction then there is potential here. So, if you want to make money from fan relationships, you need content for them to interact with.
Once there is interaction, you can start introducing ways of earning money. Before you can ask fans to part with their hard earned cash you need products to sell:
Make some noise about any and every gig you have coming up (see part two: live performances). This can encourage your current fans to buy a ticket and help to bring in new audience members. These could later become fans who pay for more gigs and other offerings. And if it’s a free event that’s fine too. Okay, they won’t directly provide a revenue stream, but you can increase your fandom and build loyalty.
Get in the studio and make some music! Get physical CDs you could sell at your next gig. Distribute your music online to streaming sites and download sites. Set a release date and make a fuss over it to increase excitement over your new music.
T-shirts, key-rings, artwork, whatever you can think of. This is for artists with fans who’re willing to buy, so don’t go investing until you know it’ll get sold. It’s hard enough to make money as a musician without throwing away what you earn!
Now you’ve got the basic products, you need a way of selling them. Asking fans to join a mailing list will help you understand who are the most enthusiastic about what you’re doing. You can then alert these fans when you have a new gig or music and / or merch available. You will be directly selling products to your most likely of customers.
Why not also start a subscription fan club for your most loyal of fans. Charge a small amount for entry to the fan club and in return provide them with exclusives. This could be news from you, direct interaction, and gigs/releases announced before anyone else. Basically like a VIP mailing list.
You can use both or either of these to talk about extra developments with the 3 basic products. For example, send over sneak peeks of merch / artwork designs. Sell VIP live experiences where they can meet you for a chat before the gig. Set competitions where the first 5 people to buy your album get a free ticket to your next gig etc.
Making Money from Fan Relationships
These are all just examples. You need to be fully aware of your reach, your budget and the likelihood of building fan relationships. Create campaigns specific to you and never ask for too much! If you are constantly trying to sell to people, they will quickly get bored of you. Provide enough free content to get them interested and then ask for them to buy things every now and again.