Guide To Building A Fanbase
Building a Fanbase 101. So you tired of performing the open mic circuit? Done with rappin in front of niggas with they arms crossed , checking their fake watches wondering when its their slot to perform. Dont get me wrong, open mics are a great place to network with your peers, find affordable studios and beats etc., but is it gonna further your career outside of that? All you are doing outside of networking , is filling the pockets of the promoters and club owners , so they dont have to get real jobs. Heres my guide to building a fanbase from scratch.
I have a better plan. Takeover Your Backyard.
What does that mean? It means just that, bypass the circuit where you pay to play and instead, #makeyourownlane. Get your own backyard in your corner and you can create a vibrant and passionate fanbase and best of all they are local and free.
How do you start building a fanbase?
Invest in yourself. The right way.
- Make the right song. A good song for this is one targeted at the females. Girls buy music, guys follow what the girls do. Street records are fine for mixtapes, but you wanna reach the girls first. This is what Tupac taught Biggie early in Biggies career. Another great strategy building a fanbase is to make a hit from a hit. That means literally , make a song on a record that was a hit sometime in the last 30 years. Once a hit , always a hit and only you can make it another hit or ruin it entirely.
- Map your city. Print out a map of your home, like , where you live. Draw circles around your home with a 1 mile , 2 mile 3 mile radius etc up to 5 miles. Next Mark the high schools in each of those circles. If you have a bigger budget, mark the junior highs too. This is your target audience. Google these schools and find out how big each of the student bodies are for each school you are targeting.
- Walk into those schools and go to the office. Talk to the administrators and ask them for help building a fanbase and if you can pass out your cds at the bus stop when school lets out. Have a few cds ready to give the staff, and dont put your street version on this cd, just the radio edit. Keep it simple and dress nicely. Bring your “manager” as long as he/she has a better mouthpiece than you.
- Press up cd’s. After looking up the schools and their student body sizes, you want to press up between 15-20% cds per each school. So , if a school has 2000 students , you need 3–400 cds for that school. Pick your targets and determine your budget for cds. Do not press up a mixtape, just your one song , radio edit only. This is crucial. You want to be allowed back on that campus anytime you want. On this cd you dont need art or images. Only the artist name, song name, your phone# and social media. You WANT them to look you up online, and you dont want too many cds in one school, you want the lucky few who got them to share your music with those who didnt get the cd. You dont need anything but paper or vinyl sleeves for this.
- Setup the days for distribution. Fridays are best, but if you have the budget and team, you can get these cds out in less than a week. To get them off to these kids as fast as possible is key. Dont stretch your distribution over 2-3 weeks, you want everyone to talk about you at the same time. Once on campus , keep your focus and pass these cds out , you will draw a crowd. You want to touch as many people as possible when you make public appearances, another lesson from Tupac. I dont mean perv shit, I mean dap and love to each and everyone , and thank them for taking your cd. Physical contact will make you a fan for life.
- Follow up. Go back after 2-3 weeks and ask for feedback. Ask them for ways to improve. Most of all , ask if theres any pep rallys or dances you can perform at. You do these shows for free. You are buidling a fanbase and public schools dont have budgets for this kind of thing but love to have rappers entertain the kids if they are a fit. OJ the Juiceman, a street artist, did over 100 high school shows early in his career and never made a dime from them. BUT he made plenty money from those kids.
- Come back with the next single. Follow the same formula. Songs for the girls. rinse and repeat. By your 2nd or third single, you will be a celebrity to those kids. The only limit here is your budget and mouthpiece. Dont overextend yourself, if you cant afford but 3-400 cds, hit your alma matter and build from that one school.
- Leverage your fanbase . Find a VFW or Moose Lodge , even a church auditorium and book it for your all ages show.Hit your high school campus and pass out flyers for your show 2-3 weeks before the event. Hire your dj and find a few of the highscoolers that have a group or rap themselves and book them on your show. You charge them $25-50 bucks to open for you. Really , whatever the market will bear. Its possible to get enough openers to pay for your hall and refreshments. The day of the show, you hit those schools with flyers, you might even talk the Admins into letting you do it at one of their events. Schedule your shoow to avoid losing your audience to a bigger draw acrross town. Even Better, schdule it after a football or basketball game.
- You charge admission of from $3-5 and , they can get in free or half price if they sign up to your email list.Always bring a clipboard to every appearance and make sure to incentivise gathering emails. give them a special code to redeem only on your site for exclusive music. Your choice, but you really want the email addresses for your fanbase list. Building a fanbase is much easier when you have an email list and this cannot be stressed enugh , you are only as big as your email list in this business. Sell them sodas and chips. If you have merch, you sell 12$ tshirts and other stuff in their price range.
- You want to avoid incidents so you might have to hire an off duty cop or your cousin who works security or whatever. Its crucial to keep order in this environment, cause there will be mulitiple schools in the building. Dont have a punch bowl or anything that can be spiked, you want to do these shows every 2 months or more frquently. You can earn enough from these local shows eventually to pay your bills. Remember, after a few months you will be a celebrity to these kids.
- After youve put 3-6 singles out to these kids, you can start thinking about a mixtape. A mixtape in and of itself is useless without a demand for it. After working your local schools building a fanbase, you will have built a demand for it. They will buy your mixtape at your shows. They will listen and share it online. They will do alot of your marketing for you. They are fans. You have their email addresses, you know many of them by name, youve treated them with love and respect , and youve created your own movement. Using this technique, you #makeyourownlane and build a real , rabid fanbase..
- Incidentals. While you are buidling a fanbase directly with your local schools, you are incidentally creating fans elsewhere. What happens when a hot song comes home with Tameka on friday? She puts that cd on before anything else. If it sucks, shes gonna fling that shit out the window. HOWEVER, if she LIKES your song, shes gonna wear that cd out. What happens when Tameka plays that song over and over in her bedroom? Well, the whole fucking house heres your song. The little brother steals the cd and rips it. The club age siblings and even the parents might like it too. What happens if the older sister likes the song so much she and her friends start requesting at the club? That dj gets enough requests, hes gonna have to find that song while hes in the booth. And he WILL. Its his JOB.
Heres another interesting article i found on building your fanbase
That Concludes part one of this series, Takeover your backyard. Stay tuned for more.