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Part III of our guest series is here for you to enjoy.

This Week’s Guests:

David Mitchell (Amalgamation magazine/, Andy Bernstein (, Audrey Faine (CBS Records/A2IM), Isha Edwards (EPiC Measures)

What we asked:

What are the 2 biggest mistakes artists make when building a fan base?


David Mitchell

David is the publisher of Amalgamation magazine, an industry quarterly publication serving the urban music-entertainment professional. He is the former VP/Managing Editor for Urban Network, one of the industry’s leading trade magazines. Mitchell, a 25-year music industry veteran, is also executive content director for, and a media coach and indie label consultant.

Creating Albums:

The age of producing epic albums isn’t entirely a thing of the past, but it’s not necessary for artists to spend their time attempting to produce the next [Pink Floyd] Dark Side of the Moon, or [AC/DC] Back in Black either. In fact there are hardly any record stores for fans to visit to purchase full-length projects–and more times than not, fans purchase individuals songs over full-length projects.

An affordable EP may just do the trick.Feed your audience great songs that will compliment their vast iPod playlists, usually consisting of random artists anyway. Stringing together four to five great and memorable songs puts you in a position to host great concerts or showcases.

Managing Expectations:

I think it’s great for artists to shoot for the stars, but very few superstars are being created at the music industry and major label levels. We are living in a different time. As big as Lady GaGa is, had she come out ten years ago, she would’ve sold 10 million albums domestically. Now, she’s barely double platinum, expected to draw most of her revenues via licensing, endorsements and touring. Spend your efforts making a solid, long-term living in the music business. It’s a more do-able and realistic goal.

Andy Bernstein

Andy is the executive director of, a nonprofit organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy. HeadCount has registered over 160,000 voters since 2004.

When building a fan base, a critical component is creating some sort of bridge where fans have access to the artists. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or post-show events, there needs to be some way for a segment of fans to have direct contact and communication with the artists. When this is built from day one it becomes part of the artist’s identity and leads to real community being formed around the music.

Another very important thing is to allow fans to be creative and create connections with each other. That can be via tape trading, message boards, or social media. Sometimes this involves use of intellectual property, such as live concert recordings. Artists that view this as a marketing tool rather than a rip-off will benefit in the long run. It’s all about creating connections. At HeadCount, we try to build on those connections to promote democracy. But it all starts with the the connections artists have with their fans and fans have with each other.

Audrey Faine

Audrey is VP/Marketing for CBS Records in LA, an indie label owned by CBS Entertainment. Currently she serves as co-chair of the LA chapter of A2IM, the American Association of Independent Music. She is also a consultant to independent artists and co-manager of the European rock band The Dandies.


This is so obvious, but not capturing your fans’ data is a big one that a lot of bands still make. Always have an email sign-up sheet with your website/Twitter info at your gigs and on your websites and social networks.

Another mistake is not rewarding your fans regularly. Always make them feel like they’re part of the “in” crowd, by offering them exclusive content, merch at a reduced price or even free (if they retweet your info or sign up 5 more fans or whatever), invite them to meet-and-greets, give them access to backstage once in awhile, give them first dibs on concert tickets. You want to encourage casual/passive fans to become real fans of your music, and to encourage real fans to become uber-fans.

Isha Edwards

Idea catalyst and brand marketing expert, Isha Edwards has worked with music professionals since 2005. The Urban Network’s Music Entertainment & Marketing Summit in Los Angeles, performing rights organization, SESAC (Atlanta), and The Recording Academy’s Grammy University Network (Atlanta) are among the many platforms where Isha provides practical business insight.

The two biggest mistakes artists make when building a fan base are launching selfish campaigns and not narrowing their target audience. Fans are responsible for providing an artist with financial and therefore professional and social leverage to aspire and achieve. Don’t blow that opportunity by making fame and numbers (albums sold, hits to website, followers/friends on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace or YouTube subscribers) primary motives. If the goal is longevity, quality outweighs quantity as does relationship-building.

Unlike air and water, all music genres are not universal. Therefore, know and pitch to the primary, secondary and alternative target audiences often.

Share your point of view and personal experience about this topic. We are always looking to hear from our readers!

If you missed Part I (Should You Treat Loyal Fans Different Than Casual Fans) and Part II (What should artists write about to fans when they don’t have a new album/tour to promote?) of this series be sure to check them out.

Want more tips for managing your fan base? Download our free eBook, 3 Keys to Fan List Success for Musicians.


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  • Jai Hutcherson

    Great post… the only thing I would like to add would be follow through. You can get all the names and email addresses in the world, but building an email list at every show, online, or anywhere and then not communicating through your list will disappoint your fans as well as give them the feeling they signed up for nothing…. therefore teaching them inactivity rather than being active within your community.
    “Love the MUSIC in Yourself, Not Yourself in the MUSIC!”

  • Unbelievablejones

    I think this is a great article. I am looking for longevity in the music business and these articles and quotes from various people in the industry were helpful. Thank you very much.

    Yanelle Dugar aka Unbelievable Jones

  • Neiman Samuel

    Amazing Article! Here Is A Side Note!

    In my experience using social media, musicians hardly ever use call-to-actions. This is a key step in utilizing social media platforms. Simply because most people do not know what to do with your post until you tell them.

    Neiman Samuel – Co-Founder of
    Instagram : NeimanSamuel1
    Twitter NeimanSamuel1