Fans are the life-sustaining basis of the music industry. Eliminate fans and what we’ll have are artists listening to each other’s music. Eliminate fans, and the streaming model will be useless, and as a result, less revenue for artists.
And early in the careers of many upcoming artists, the burning desire is for how their music will “blow”—get a co-sign from a big artist or nick a record deal. The goal should however be on how to make good music, then get people to discover them. Social media has helped in this cause, seamlessly making fans quickly discover music.
But there’s a problem. How can one, two fans turn to thousands of fans? How can a rising artist multiply fans’ engagement thereby leading to an increase in streaming numbers. We look at how five independent artists grew their fanbase, organically.
1. Blaqbonez: Social Media Interactions
The industry has been aware of Blaqbonez’s craft for a couple of years now, starting from his Bad Boy Blaq project which brought him to mainstream prominence.
Still, it wasn’t until this year, a change occurred. A change in numbers—streaming numbers and social media following.
Blaqbonez’s strategy is clear. Put out a song and through content creation, he prolonged the duration of these songs in the mainstream space. Haba, for example. Unleashed in March 2020, trended for months and the hashtag StreamHaba turned to a slang on Twitter and the live sessions that happened on IG that period.
The contents Blaqbonez was putting out were funny and also made you glued to his page, scrolling down and eliciting reactions as you clicked on one post after the other. In one word, you’ve been trapped into his world. One would be compelled to like and follow, and when the next song drops, you would want to become his ambassador by sharing his music to your friends. Blaqbonez has thus transformed you into a Superfan through social media interactions.
2. Tems: Offer Something New
Has anyone noticed? Songs or beats sounding alike? I know most rising artists are yet to find their voice or define their sound signature. You’re influenced by several artists and you tend to replicate what you’ve heard in their tracks in terms of lyrics or sound themes. Doing that makes you jump into an already-filled pool of artists with similar sound sensibilities.
Tems refused to follow this route of what we’ve often heard in Afropop. There’s a differential quality to her, her powerful voice, the themes she sings about and her songwriting is steeped in vulnerability. Instead of following the prevailing pattern listeners have heard and gotten tired of, why not invent your own songwriting and sound style?
Doing this will endear listeners to you who will be enthralled by your unique approach. Because it’s something they’ve not heard of. The music space likes new things.
3. Santi, Odunsi, Tay Iwar: Community
You’ve often seen how one artist from a group is signed then that artist gives exposure or attention to the other artists in the group. Similar to how Picazo Rhap and Yomiblaze were snapped up together by YBNL and how Lil Frosh and Zinoleesky enthralled listeners.
With the alte crew, it wasn’t different. They were all growing together, jumping on each other’s tracks, introducing their audiences to other artists in the culture. With that, it drew attention to the kind of music they were making, and it didn’t take long before they began getting exposure from foreign media.
With that exposure, came new listeners from other music spheres. International deals will follow. Yet, through Santi, some got to know Odunsi. Through Odunsi featuring Amaarae on his debut album, rare and her whisperings on Santi’s Rapid Fire, the Ghanaian was introduced to the music space here.
4. Bella Shmurda: Consistency
Here’s what consistency does to you. You transcend from been unknown to being talked about, and with social media users talking about you, it creates a buzz around you—introducing you to other people. Everyone around us wants consistency. Your girlfriend wants you to call everyday, your boss wants consistency, your friends demand you show up sometimes too.
It’s the same in the ever competitive music space too. You can’t operate with a system of two songs per year. And being consistent doesn’t translate to releasing singles every month. A single this month backed with a video a month later then a feature the next month helps to put your name out there.
For Bella Shmurda, it began from appearing on Olamide and Davido albums, dropping Cash App, teasing Rush for a month and eventually dropping it.
The benefits of collaborations are immense. That strategy was the launchpad of Oxlade’s career. It introduced him to other audiences. Made him more known, especially when you have songs with DJ Tunez, Juls, Sarkodie, Alpha Ojini already.
With his honeyed delivery on these tracks, fans of those artists will go from those songs where Oxlade was featured to looking for more of Oxlade’s tracks. That ensured an increase in monthly listeners on Spotify and also anticipated more of Oxlade’s output.
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here