How Musicians Get Million Of Fans In 2024

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In 2023, the rules of how to build a fanbase really changed more than any other year I’ve seen before. So going into 2024, there’s so many things that musicians miss. I see them messing up every single day that crush their dreams even when their music is great. Unlike some of these YouTubers, I do this work every day, and I observe and chronicle what I learn since I work with tons of musicians on their ascent to building a huge fanbase, whether they’re DIY, Indie, or major label, no matter what the genre.

But since I don’t really want to bore my viewers, if you’re sitting here watching this thinking I’m just another one of those YouTube con artists selling a course who’s just spouting off with no experience, I encourage you to go to my channel page and watch the video on my biography that’s featured there. What I think is most important is for well over a decade, my head’s been in the game when it comes to music marketing. I live and breathe marketing. And not just music but comedy, podcasts, streaming video, YouTube, hell, even the cursed subject of politics. I talk to managers, PR people, booking agents, and campaign strategists all day. Even the people who run presidential campaigns, as well as A&R of some of the biggest artists in the world in tons of different genres. I’m on the phone every day with people who are building up new artists, influencers, and other people in the public eye, figuring out what actually works.

I’ve been taking all that information from my own work and who I talk to and putting it into this YouTube channel for the past 4 years. So let’s get some things out of the way though to make this video way more enjoyable. What I’m gonna do here is lay out top-line strategy to build a fanbase off of. If you think something I’m saying is interesting and you wish you knew more about it, well, there’s already videos I’ve made to go way deeper on every subject in this video. So just head down in the description and find the link. Or click on the playlist I made and become a real expert. And the same goes for if you’re not finding a section interesting. There are chapters to this video so feel free to skip ahead.

So let’s talk about the first pillar of marketing in 2024 for a musician. This is appealing to algorithms. Now I know a lot of you are gonna get real turned off by hearing that. But listen for a second. Appealing to algorithms happens to have a happy ending, unlike most of the marriages aspiring musicians jump into. Right now, the majority of music discovery and how people build a fanbase is because they use smart strategy that appeals to the algorithm. But there’s a smarter way to see this. If you deliver music in the way the algorithm likes, which means you don’t have to and nor should you compromise your music and what’s within that music, well, those algorithms will help you build your fanbase.

Because the great thing about music today is songs that are authentic and actually appeal to listeners are more rewarded than ever, and that’s never been more true going into 2024. And I know a lot of you don’t believe me about that. But it’s real. And I’ve talked about it a lot here. But the delivery method and the way you release your music has a definitive way that it will spread as far as possible if you follow the rules of that algorithm. I should say, the reason algorithms work is they’re modeled off of human attention spans. Which is why people built those algorithms was to appeal to the way humans consume things.

But right now what the majority of artists who get a fanbase are doing to effectively build that fanbase is they release a single every 6-8 weeks. While occasionally peppering that with an alternative version, a cover, or a remix. Or hell, even one of those sped-up or slowed-down versions that are popular on TikTok these days. Or they add a feature to an existing song here or there. They do this for a 12-18 month campaign while doing something eventful every 2 weeks and something smaller every single week. This only takes 6 songs per year to fill up an entire calendar year and if you release a video of just the album cover and a stream of your song on the first week, then 2 weeks later a lyric video or visualizer, then 2 weeks after that a music video, and then an alternative version, well, you’ll fill up those 8 weeks really easily. And then you just start the cycle again with another song at either week 7 or week 9.

But a lot of people want to release a song every single week now. And when you do that it makes people feel like the music is not important to you. Instead, you’re just desperate. And just guessing at what will work so you can become another clout-hungry famous person. And no one is interested in someone guessing or messing around. They want to see a real artist creating something powerful. And unlike what so many of you think, songs are not a lottery ticket. They need to be emotionally powerful and it’s not worth releasing if it’s not. And people don’t want to see everything you can do, but instead the best of what you do. Whereas releasing a song every 2 months and pairing it with eventful marketing pushes keeps everyone’s attention spans engaged.

Too many of you that I talk to on consulting calls tell me how you have 28 songs in the can, but you don’t get what makes so many of your favorite artists your favorites is that they know how to release their best material. For example, here’s Dua Lipa talking about making 94 songs for her new 12-song record because she gets the game as much more about quality than quantity. Now with these songs you leave behind doesn’t mean you throw them away, it doesn’t mean they never get released. But these artists play with those ideas and don’t release them until they’ve developed them enough to become their best material.

So you need to hint to your audience and the people who are going to discover you. What you’re doing is exceptional by putting in the effort to make content around the songs you drop and continually remind people that the music you’re putting out actually matters to you before it’ll matter to them. Because people care about eventful things which is what makes them think they should pay attention to you. I want to remind you, you’re also competing with a lot of people for attention. This is why when Lil Nas X rose from being a completely unknown artist to having the longest-running #1 song of all time he continually reminded people of his song and that it was something exceptional by over and over again showing them memes and reminding them to build a relationship with the song. Basically cementing the foundation of what’s working on TikTok today. But more about that later.

Now, a lot of people get really bummed when they hear me talking about releasing singles constantly as they love albums and EPs and you know what, so do I. I was listening to some while I wrote this script. But you have to see EPs and LPs and mixtapes as what builds deeper relationships with fans who start to like you. It makes them think about you more and more and feel close to you and you should release them from time to time after a string of singles. And the deeper that relationship is, the more likely they are to come see you live, buy your merch and engage with you on socials and most of all never shut up to their friends about you. Which is how you get fans.

But we need to see it this way. That singles are what lures people in. Much like that sample of the chicken or tofu at the Chinese food stall that they give out for free in the mall courtyard they hope to lure you in at the counter and for you to then buy a pound of it. And then they hope you’ll keep coming back. And doing that each day after you’ve tasted how good it tastes from that one free sample is the real goal here. And we have to see albums and singles as two different things. Singles offer the opportunity to bring in enough people that they’re going to go through your album or back catalog and actually get to know you and develop a relationship with your music.

And right now algorithms only spread singles not albums so that’s what you have to deal with. Because the way Spotify is designed and people’s attention spans work in a similar way is that the more singles you release of quality material, the more chances people will have to take in your album and back catalog. So let’s go over this. The top way people discover music are now TikTok, Spotify, and YouTube. But before we get to TikTok we’re much more concerned about where people are going to repeatedly listen to your music and make a relationship with you which is YouTube and Spotify. Because when it comes to streaming audio platforms and listening to music without video, if you open the majority of artists’ analytics of where their listens come from and I’m paid to look at this more than just about anyone on earth if we bar YouTube, it’s usually 80 to 85% Spotify where these streams come from and then the other 15 to 20% is distributed between Apple and all the other DSPs.

So like it or not, Spotify is where you really need to focus your energy. And luckily for you, they give artists tons of tools to promote themselves whereas all the other DSPs give you virtually none. And because Spotify only lets you submit one song at a time to its editorial playlist submission tool and they recommend you submit 4 weeks in advance, this means releasing singles more than once a month is a wasted opportunity. And while I hear a lot of people clowning Spotify editorial playlists as being over, if you read as much data as I do, I see over and over again this is a common ingredient in the musicians who blow up as well as the key first ingredient in how an artist starts to break. It’s still one of your greatest chances to have your music discovered by a lot of people is through editorial placements on Spotify. So you’re basically failing yourself if you don’t follow Spotify’s guidelines and give that song a chance.

But let’s also keep in mind it takes weeks for some songs to spread on TikTok. So pushing out different songs constantly doesn’t benefit you since you need to be concentrating on drilling an earworm into people’s ears since we’re in what I call right now the earworm era of music promotion. And while editorial playlists are the biggest ones, we have to remember Spotify puts the artists who get on user playlists on their editorial playlists. So it’s important that after your song is released you then pitch it to other playlists but there’s an important part of the Spotify game to keep in mind and that’s trying to get into the algorithm. So you get on Discover Weekly and Release Radar and to do that you need to keep your popularity score high and that happens by driving as many ears that will potentially like your song as possible as early as possible to your song.

But now’s a good time to mention that for that work you need to have a high-quality algorithm. What I hear all the time from artists is they are doing blah blah blah to stimulate the Spotify algorithm. Particularly ads. But what I see over and over again is unless you build your fanbase and train the algorithm in an organic way these people who build with ads hit a point where they find it nearly impossible to grow. Whereas the artists who do the work I talk about in my video on building community and build connections with the artists most similar to them grow wildly while they sleep since the algorithm is programmed to show them to the right people and doesn’t die the second they stop paying for ads or get dropped from a playlist but instead keeps recommending them to new people continuously.

And I have a lot more to say about this in other videos that are linked in the description if you want to learn more. But truly your mission when you first release a song is to try to get as many ears to your song as possible that are familiar with you and already like you or have the potential to like you because they like your genre of music. Not a bunch of strangers, not a bunch of randos, and definitely not a bunch of bots. But there’s another platform we have to consider which is YouTube which not only helps with music discovery it’s also where you can build relationships with fans best. Since we all know a great music video it could be what tips you to be so blown away by what you’re listening to and watching that you send it to a friend.

So here’s a good example of why YouTube is so important. We’ve all been through this where we maybe hear a song on TikTok and then pop it on Spotify or YouTube after and then we’ll hear it again a few months later after we stopped listening to it and realized we forgot about it and never rinsed this song as much as we would have. It’s a great video, what we see over and over again when we look at data is you remember that artist more and you also share the video when it has an impact on you which converts new fans while getting the ones who watch the video more invested in you. I can think of numerous times in the last few weeks when I watched this sick video from Jersey of them DJing I sent it to a ton of people or Harmony’s shoplifting from Nike which I passed on to a bunch of friends I knew would like it.

I see this in analytics, since Spotify and YouTube both have analytics to show you who it turns into die-hard fans and gives your music repeated listens and those ones tend to correlate with the people who make good videos since they always have higher numbers. And this is important too because YouTube rewards those who are uploading weekly or biweekly which is a little bit of a conflict with what I told you about Spotify. So putting up behind-the-scenes playthroughs, vlogs, lyric videos, single screen videos of your song helps the algorithm favor you. It serves you to more fans while feeding the attention spans of fans who are starting to grow a relationship with you as you put up different versions of your song into their algorithm while keeping Spotify to be much more highly curated.

And this is also why doing my release plan where we put up a video of just the album art then the lyric video or visualizer then your music video works so well. Especially if you then pepper in an alternate version this all helps you serve another video every two weeks. So maintaining consistent sustained promotion by posting a video not only helps you algorithmically it helps audiences see you’re regularly feeding them and that you’re an eventful artist who fans should be paying attention to. And when you regularly entertain your audience and stay on top of their minds fans inherently tell their friends about you because they remember you and then they talk about you on social media because it’s by nature humans seek out commonality in each other and want to bond over what they enjoy.

Doing this not only appeals to the algorithm it reminds fans to grow relationships with you so they are thinking about you more and more and want to go deeper with you. But I know what you’re thinking “Oh Jesse what does it matter no one’s paying attention to me anyway” Truly the greatest thing about algorithms is instead of some gatekeeper choosing you like how every other artist used stuff to break through if you used smart strategy you could draw connections between you and other artists algorithmically and then have the platform push you to those other artists. I made a video on how collaborations, remixes, features, and split releases are the greatest marketing opportunity in the history of music and you should really watch it as it’s linked below.

And these connections not only introduce you to another artist’s fanbase but they live on another artist’s page potentially forever. Continually growing your fanbase as the artist also makes new fans and vice versa. But there’s an added algorithmic benefit to this. You end up in the release radar and discover weekly of that artist. I’ve talked to the managers of some of the larger artists I know who say this can help a lot more than getting on the biggest playlists. Especially those artists who are regularly doing collaborations since they have lots of algorithmic ties.

But the benefits of this do not stop at YouTube and Spotify. One of the things musicians seem to forget is the way Instagram and TikTok algorithms learn to recommend you is the algorithm looks at when two artists are tagged together and mentioned together. And when that happens regularly, like when you’re playing small shows together all the time with another artist or do a song with another artist, the algorithm ranks how often this is happening between the two of you and then recommends you to one another’s audiences. This in addition to some music genome methods the streaming services have is just about the only way an algorithm knows to link you to someone else.

So if you’re one of those people who’s always complaining that the algorithm doesn’t pick you up, this is what you need to be doing. And this is why not being an island to yourself matters. You need to be regularly tagging and doing things with other artists to help you grow. But what does that mean practically though? Doing features, collaborations, remixes as well as split releases and making sure you tag properly on Spotify and YouTube, you’ll link to those other artists to get you on Spotify radio playlists as well as discover weekly and release radar playlists and then doing music plus talk DJ sets on Spotify or radio shows and tagging the artists on Instagram and Twitter can help those sites spread you and link you to them algorithmically as well as messaging other artists and socializing on Twitter can help you get seen by their fans. And the same goes on TikTok.

Now before you get any big ideas though, the key with these algorithms is they work at scale. Meaning if you’re just doing this with Drake and tagging him all day, it’s not going to tie you to him. There’s too much other competition, but this right here is why knowing your community and working with other artists of your size and doing this with artists who are just a bit above you in fan base size is the key to growing. Which is why you really need to know your community, which is why I emphasize this over and over again on this channel.

So you’re probably wondering how you find your community and use it to leverage your fan base. And instead of going into great detail on that, you need to watch that longer video on that. I instead want to show you how it plays with the other pillars of what I’m talking about here. I’ll explain why knowing who the other smaller artists in your community is important. So doing as much research about your community will show you the other artists you should be creating a connection together with, so the algorithm knows who to serve you to the fans of.

But community work goes way deeper than algorithms. This is actually about people and connection to them. And I know I said that last part was about people too, but this is even more so. Knowing where the people in your micro genre, your local scene, etc congregate, whether it’s the clubs, discord chats, or introductions you get from other people you’ve met is how you meet the people who open doors for you and connect you to the right people. So often the artists who grow are the ones who are most engaged in their online communities. Since the people who are in those communities are tomorrow’s tastemakers, playlisters, or A&R of a cool label.

And knowing your community allows you to know who the best mixer or director in your price range is in your community to make you level up. And if you’re just trying to get signed, one of the most common ways that happens is by working with the mixers, mastering engineers, and photographers and directors in your community. And then they share the work they do with you on their socials. And all the A&R they work with and follow them see your name and your song. And if you have a great song, well that’s how managers and label relationships often start. I see it all the time.

And if you have a great song, well that’s how managers and label relationships often start. I see it all the time. So you need to be taking the time every single day to understand your community. And truly one of the things I see that’s different between whether people are growing faster or not is whether they’ve done the work at this. As it makes you a better artist and a better student of the game. And most of all, those who reach out in their community get propped up by it.

This is how you get your first fans. And I just made a video on that. So many people wonder what the first step of getting fans is. And I’ll tell you this, it is often that you make friends with somebody on a message board, let’s say. And they post about you to their fans. And then you post about them when they put up a new song. And then you have a web of people like that who are connecting you on the algorithm again. And that’s the first steps to get a leg up and build a fanbase.

Truly, the difference I see when I do consults with artists who do this work for 10-15 hours compared to the ones who don’t and don’t listen to me. Well, the artists who don’t do it are always the ones who are flailing and confused. And the ones who do it are the ones who see a path forward. So head to the description and watch my video on finding community.

Truly, one of the main things that changed in the last year is TikTok’s algorithm being what leads other platforms in innovation and they all imitate it. And if you don’t teach the algorithm who you are similar to in the best way possible, you get worse recommendations and you are less likely to grow than someone who does this right. So taking the time to learn this is crucial.

But now, of course, we should talk about what I think is the most exciting part of what I saw change in 2023 and continues into 2024. I know this will make some people mad, but I will tell you this. When you get together with people who actually work breaking new artists, we all see the same thing. Never before in the music business do you see artists with $0 budgets start to get their music heard by millions of people for $0 after the song is recorded as long as they have some lighting, a decent camera on their phone and study how to do TikTok and the nuances of it so they can blow up for no money.

Since we’re now in the earworm era where if you’re pushing your song over and over again and it gets in people’s heads that converts to listens and people’s dreams coming true. So I’ll make this as short as I can. When we talk about having a great algorithm, what TikTok, Instagram, Reels, and YouTube Shorts allow you to do is make algorithmic connections on those platforms to get it introduced to fans who are likely to like you but then also send the ones who like you to Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube to then strengthen those algorithms since the fans who will jump to another app out of enthusiasm to your song are the best fans to build off possible and the ones you want building your algorithm. Not the ones from ads.

So I’ll be straight with you, right now if you’re a broken musician with time on your hands, studying the moving target of what’s working on TikTok and getting good at making videos and editing in their app CapCut offers the greatest chance of changing your life and building a fanbase I or anyone else I know has seen. So make a new account just to watch TikTok and study. Click not interested whenever you see some person coming, saying on weird food or whatever, and heart and follow every time you see a musician and in two hours the For You page will only serve you inspiring musicians.

Take notes and then make your own content and keep trying to level up. The people who do best on TikTok are the ones who keep repeating similar content and getting better and better at it who do both lo-fi content, somewhat edited content, and high fine content like produced music videos. Also, remember the algorithm loves to see you interacting with video replies, stitches, and duets to the artist you’re most similar to, and if you do that, you’ll show it who the algorithm should show you to. But luckily for you, I have an entire playlist on everything you need to know to blow up on TikTok in 2024.

And yeah, right now we’re at the point with TikTok where we were with Instagram in like 2013 where everyone was like, “it’s just influencers posting photos of food.” I got news for you, fella: all the adults are now coming on and the fastest growing demographic of TikTok is moms 25-35, so please stop sounding like a grandparent when you say it’s for teenagers, cause if I hear that one more time, I may turn into Patrick Bateman, but uh, I’m a mature man who handles my rage into petting dogs.

But let’s talk about what works on these platforms. And I want to say this, the majority of musicians I talk to on a daily basis have made social media far too complicated because they don’t realize what they’re actually seeing. What appeals to you or any audience, for that matter, is not someone trying to be something they’re not. We all have authenticity radars that give us cringe the second we see something inauthentic. And yet, most musicians talk to me as if they should be doing some performance that’s not authentic to them and that they’re not comfortable doing. It’s literally the thing I hear the most when I talk to musicians.

I gotta be honest, that’s not what I see blowing up and making fans for artists. Devote time each day to thinking about your most interesting thoughts or the most interesting things you’re personally doing or the traits of your personality that are most charismatic. And then how you can use them to build relationships with fans by showing them who you are on social media. The honesty and vulnerability you express in your music paired with doing that on social media is what people actually latch onto these days. If you show them that, they want to get to know you better and listen to your music.

So many musicians think something is contrived or coached that they see from big artists when really the huge artists that you admire, what they’re doing is being themselves. You just don’t like it. Because they know this and it’s been drilled in their head and they’ve thought long and hard and probably talked a lot about themselves with their team. And they’re developed so well on how to show themselves to the world. Because it’s a muscle you need to exercise or else you’re gonna be bad at it.

I hear so many people say, “I’m just not good at this.” Yeah, you haven’t done the exercise yet to get good at it. And by being in the habit of any time something interesting comes to your mind or in line with the artist’s image you want to project, well, your favorite artists know how to share that. Because it’s a muscle they’re using every single day.

And really, each day think about how you tell stories and thoughts in an authentic way that works for you. And if you don’t get what I mean by stories, I have a whole playlist and tons of videos on that. And I also want to say this, you need to also remind people regularly about your music and make stories that involve your music. Just saying your song is out now is the weakest sell of a song possible. Tell the story of how the song makes you feel or makes others feel or how you felt when you made it. If you do that, you’ll see your song streams increase.

And if you’re regularly telling people this with an understanding of community, you’ll build relationships with fans and grow their relationship with your music. But I know what you really want is a cheat sheet on which social media apps you should be using. So let me leave you with this. Instagram is where some people get a lot of discovery now that they’ve tweaked their algorithm over the summer to be more like TikTok. But for some people, it doesn’t work, and for some people, it’s way better than TikTok. But for most fans, that’s where they go to keep up with their favorite artists or investigate the artist’s vibe when they first hear of them, which makes this app important.

Twitter or whatever we’re calling it these days, along with threads, is probably the best place to socialize and keep up with people a little since some people do that. But really, that’s where you should build community and start conversations. TikTok is where so much of artist and music discovery happens today. It’s nearly immeasurable. Remember that for so many artists, TikTok doesn’t work as well, and if your videos do better on YouTube shorts or Instagram, favor those. And if your audience is under 35, every moment you spend on Facebook can be better spent doing anything else.

Okay, so the last pillar of how you grow in 2024 is to understand the cheat codes in your genre. So I can’t get super specific with this in this video since each genre or microgenre has its own cheat code. And what I mean by this is there’s often a trick happening at each moment. A practice or an aspect of music promotion you can focus on that will get you more fans if you understand it and allocate more time to it. Think of it this way: right now, hiring a radio campaign if you’re a DIY pop artist, well, you’ll find somebody who will take that money, but you may as well set it on fire. Since there’s no chance you’ll ever get played unless you have a ton of streams and have created momentum around your music.

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