Why should musicians get paid? What about their music equals making money? You may be thinking, “because they make their own exceptional music,” or, even, “because they provide a service.” Though these are true to a degree, they don’t get to the heart of where your money actually comes from as a musician. For example, no butcher, baker, or candlestick maker gets paid to butcher, bake, or make candles. There’s no one pumping money into a bakery business just because they make a really wicked apple pie.

So the real answer to the riddle is this: you, the musician, making money because your fans are willing to pay for your service –– the service of delivering music to their ears. Your fans are your customers. Lots of customers equates to a thriving business, while no customers mean no business.

It’s a double whammy, in ways: first, without fans, you’re not making ticket sales or making money. But secondly, without fans, you can’t attract the attention of traditional booking agents. These agents won’t work with unsigned artists, or those who draw fewer than a couple hundred concertgoers. It puts industry newcomers and small acts in a tough spot, where growing your presence can feel impossible. How do you overcome the hurdle and rise to business success?

Here are Afton’s three tips for growing your fan base, and by default, start making money.

Focus on your target audience first.

Are you spreading your music broadly across social media? If so, reaching far and wide could actually be hurting you, says Dave Kusek, founder of New Artist Model, an online business school for musicians. Instead of fixating on numbers and getting whatever exposure you can, target your marketing approach to the people who already like your kind of music. Take a page out of the books of successful marketers, and write up a “fan persona.” What does your fan look like? Where does he or she shop, eat, and play? The more information you can nail down about your average fan, the more you can successfully reach new fans by advertising your show in the same places they’ll be hanging out.

Rethink your social media strategy.

Carole Billingsley, founder of Seek Social Media, recommends improving your social media strategy through a few simple tweaks. First, increase your website’s share-ability by placing social connect buttons on your website “above the fold,” or anywhere on screen that won’t require users to scroll to see it. Next, look at your gigs as opportunities to capture more social media contacts. Invite fans to join an email list, and give them the names of your social sites. Finally, start conversations on social media by connecting with other industry pros. From agents to other bands, music media professionals to venues, the more people you reach out to, the more chances you have of connecting with opportunities to grow your business.

Utilize free services.

If you’re a new, unknown, or unsigned band, you will likely have trouble attracting the attention of venues, promoters, and agents. You probably also face budgetary challenges, limiting your ability to hire marketers or partners to help grow your fanbase. What’s a band to do? One option is to utilize the free services out there to help you grow your presence, like MyAfton. Signing up for MyAfton is free, and we specialize in working with unsigned local and regional bands. Free is a great way to make extra money.

Start making money.

When you abandon the myth that only the quality of your music will determine your success, you take an important step. By focusing your energy instead on building your fan base, you’ll see your status as a musician –– and a business person –– rise to the top.

Since 2004, Afton has booked over 60,000 local acts in more than 10,500 Afton concerts, 40 cities, and 200 music venues. Afton is now the largest Booking Agent and Promoter of unsigned, independent local bands and rappers in the United States. Start booking with Afton now to grow your fan base and get the support you need in your music career.

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Ryan Kintz
Co-Founder of Afton at Afton Shows
Since starting the company in 2004, Ryan has held to our founding principle, that every talented unsigned artist deserves a chance to get onstage. When he’s not working, Ryan likes to play guitar, golf, disc golf,
snowboard, travel and spend time with family and friends. He’s been an avid animal lover, and Vegan, since 2013. Ryan is a Booking Manager, runs day to day operations, creates new artist services, and constantly optimizes how our booking and ticketing platforms can help our artists succeed. He also is the head of our national tours division for signed, nationally touring acts.