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Industry experts inform the Pathways Into Music artist circle at The Great Escape: Part Two

By | Published on Wednesday 18 May 2022

Pathways Into Music - Artist Circle

CMU’s Pathways Into Music Foundation last week used the MUSIC + EDUCATION sessions at The Great Escape to present more of its research work which aims to provide music educators and talent development organisations with resources that they can use to give DIY phase artists the knowledge and information they need to pursue a career around their music-making.

At TGE, Foundation director Phil Nelson presented the artist circle, a way of understanding the process artists go through when growing an audience and business around their music.

That begins with creative activities, and then moves onto fanbase building, which is in turn amplified through the promotion of releases and shows, and finally artists look for ways to raise funds and generate income around their music. So there are four quarters to the artist circle: creative, fanbase, promotion and finance.

With the artist circle introduced, music industry experts were then invited on stage at TGE to together compile the ten key pieces of knowledge and information that educators and talent development teams should be looking to communicate to DIY phases artists for each quarter of the circle.

Providing the tips for the fanbase building quarter were Chris Chadwick from Famous Friends, Erika Thomas from WMA, and Fiona McAuley from Atlantic Records UK.

Here are the ten tips they compiled…

1. What’s your story? With so many artists releasing so much music, having a great story is a good way to stand out from the crowd. Think about your brand, your identity and your vision.

2. As you start to build a fanbase for your music, think of that fanbase like a community. Interact with your community and talk to your community – that way they will become your biggest champions and supporters.

3. Build your music-maker and wider creator network. Collaboration is key for making great music, but it’s also important for growing your fanbase. All the other music-makers and creators you collaborate with have their own fanbases – make sure you champion each other’s work to your respective audiences.

4. Look for as many opportunities to play live as possible – including open mic nights and guest spots – and use each performance as an opportunity to connect with new fans by subtly directing them to your digital channels.

5. Work out which digital channels work best for you and your fanbase, learn what kinds of content and posts work best on each channel, and find a good rhythm in terms of regularity of content and posting. You need to keep each digital channel refreshed, but you only have so much time available, so figure out a realistic schedule that keeps people engaged.

6. Look at ‘content pillars’ outside of your music and artist identity – which is to say, what are your other passions and interests that you could post about? This makes it easier to keep your digital channels refreshed and your fans engaged.

7. Use your analytics – from the streaming services, your distributor and social media. Cross-reference the different sets of data to see what kinds of content and posts get the best response – and result in more streams of your music. Learn from that and adjust your future content and posts accordingly.

8. As your fanbase grows, you should start to segment your audience into casual fans, core fans and super fans – and then treat them differently.

9. Start building a mailing list right away – so encourage fans to give you an email address and permission to email them. You will still talk to your fans much more frequently on social media, but every so often you can send your core fanbase some extra content by email. Those mailings often get more engagement and generate great fan data.

10. Be your own PR! Don’t be afraid to promote your music and your music projects. And as momentum builds, start reaching out to industry and media contacts too. Don’t be too pushy, but occasional personalised emails updating key people on your activities and asking for support and advice can be really beneficial.

We are publishing the ten tips for each of the quarters of the artist circle each day here in the CMU Daily. Or you can get them all in one place by downloading the latest Pathways Into Music Research Summary here.