This is undoubtedly a great time to be a songwriter. Just think… with the tools provided by the Internet and social media, you can now potentially reach millions of fans and grow a following with just one click. Back in the days, our pals couldn’t even imagine this opportunity.
Yet, more and more songwriters struggle to make the right connections, earn enough money to make a living, and make their music stand out in an ocean of limitless offers.
How is this contradiction even possible?
The competition simply got harsher. With more and more music being published every day, the market adjusted accordingly. Social Networks, for example, changed their algorithms to make it harder to reach an audience organically and stimulate the purchase of advertising slots.
Money is another issue affecting the music industry, due to the huge drop in music sales and the rise of streaming services like Spotify.
Independent songwriters can have a hard time building their fanbase online and trying to make ends meet at the very same time.
But I got some good news… it is possible to grow a following online as an independent artist. There is just one simple condition: you will need a ton of patience!
Gaining exposure as a songwriter isn’t supposed to be hard
Success rarely happens overnight and this is truer than ever.
Building a fanbase as a songwriter, especially if you work independently, can take years of hard work.
Consistency is key in both online and offline interactions, whether you are producing content for your YouTube channel or contacting musicians to collab. In other words, you need to persist and keep doing to see results.
Here are 5 steps you’ll need to take to grow your fanbase as an independent songwriter.
1. Set your goals
First of all, you’ll need to clarify with yourself who you are, what is your vision, and what goals you want to reach.
Success doesn’t look the same for everyone.
Some songwriters can only feel accomplished once they’ve won a Grammy, while others are happy to get a few billboard #100 hits.
Think about the performers you’d like to work with and how to get in touch with them. Are you happy working with local singers or do you have bigger aspirations?
Have a sincere conversation with yourself and set some challenging, yet realistic goals.
2. Find your niche
Once you’ve looked within, it’s time to look outside.
The second step is defining what your audience looks like.
Fans of rock music are different from fans of hip-hop. They attend different venues and festivals. They wear different clothes. They all hang out on social media, but in what groups or forums?
Do some research about where your potential fanbase is and find a smart, creative way to get there. How? More about this in the following section.
3. Plan ahead
Once you’ve spent some time online, researching the spots visited by your potential fanbase, it is time to come up with a content calendar.
Songwriters and musicians usually post content on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Each platform has its rules, so make sure to understand them if you want to maximize your results.
Not every fan, moreover, is on all of these platforms. If you address a senior audience, for example, you won’t probably need to be on TikTok. However, if your target fan is a teenager then this new social network should definitely be part of your strategy.
4. Put out the right type of content
As you may have gathered from the previous section, I can’t predict what will work best for you. Nobody knows your music better than you, so only you know what content will work best to showcase your abilities.
However, I can give you some inspiration by highlighting a few trends and good practices.
Firstly, no matter what your target audience is, you’ll have to be on YouTube. Videos are getting more and more important in the marketing field. Not only artists, but companies too use this incredible tool to showcase their products.
A lot of songwriters upload videos on their YouTube channel weekly, being able to pull quite a good following. Some of them put up their original songs, while others post a lot of covers. Some of them might also publish “How To” videos and tutorials.
Blogs are another great way to attract a fanbase in your niche. By writing about your songs, your creative process, the music industry you work in, or how your favorite artists inspired you, you could reach a good number of like-minded fans, ready to follow you for years to come.
5. Showcase your talent on a few freelancing platforms
Platforms such as Fiverr, Soundbetter, and Vocalizr are great places to network with singers and producers.
Whether you are looking for an opportunity to produce the song you have composed or some freelance work to hone your craft and earn some money on the side, these websites are worth your time.
Make sure you build a professional profile, showcasing your portfolio while being always polite and available to potential customers and collaborators.
These are just five ideas to build a following as an independent songwriter. There are many more you could think of, but these are some good starting points to begin your career.
Remember to focus on your long-term goals and don’t get discouraged if results are not happening overnight!