How to Build a Following and Finally Fill Your Venues

Having passionate fans is the bread and butter of every successful artist. Every artist wants people to follow them gig after gig.

Record labels don’t sign artists, they sign the fans!

Face the facts

Today we’ll spend some time investigating and discussing what ‘out-of-the-box’ steps you could follow to build your fan base and your following from being a beginner band to a more experienced one.

1) The Importance of Goal Setting

Since you are a new name on the block, it’s time that we put your name out there.

Even if you’ve only been together for a couple of weeks, it’s essential to put a few goals in place, to begin with. Without setting these goals, you will feel goalless, demotivated and bored after not reaching quick success.

Setting short-reachable goals keeps you grounded and continuously working to reach those goals.

What you need to achieve this:

  • Band members
  • At least 3-4 songs on the performance level
  • Band practice room

2) Create Social Media Accounts

This is probably to most obvious point, but it is still the most used space for free advertisements.

It also depends on which part of the world you are in and which social media platforms will work the best for you.

Where I come from in South Africa, Facebook is the main place to advertise and introduce yourself. This is because you can share the page and invite your friends to immediately follow you.

In other parts of the world, there will be Instagram or TikTok that will have a significant influence on how quickly you can get a message over to your fanbase.

Remember that TikTok is here to stay. There might be variations of it where it gets banned, but it’s truly worth it to invest in your marketing to build a following on TikTok and spread your latest music.

Divide the band workload so that a band member is appointed as the social media expert. That person should open social media accounts for the band and start to build the content. Members should agree to trust each other to make decisions with the heart of the band at the centre of the decision-making.

Which Social Media Accounts Should I Start With?

I honestly don’t believe that one should overwhelm yourself with a job overload when your main concern should be to build an audience on one or two platforms.

I would probably have 3 maximum:

  1. Facebook
    • To advertise gigs
    • To build an audience
    • To sell merchandise
  2. Instagram
    • Showcase your performance pictures
    • Build stories for an insight into the real lives of the band members
    • Advertise gigs, build an audience
  3. TikTok
    • Introduce new music
    • An insight into the band room and visits to practices
    • Footage of live performances

I would recommend that you start with the easiest one for you and then add another once you are comfortable.

What Do I Need To Achieve This?

  • A chosen band member with social media skills
  • Content to publish on a regular basis
  • Shows to advertise
  • A band logo

3) Feature In Your Local Newspaper

Local newspapers always have a challenge to find new stories about what is happening in their cities.

This is an extremely helpful tip to get featured and recognised in your city as an up-and-coming musical prodigy since they are always looking for something to publish in the culture section of the newspapers.

What to do:

  1. Write an email to your local newspaper asking for a future article about your band and the music you are making.
  2. Tell them why you are relevant and what your future prospects are.
  3. Refer them to your social media accounts, a potential hit, and upcoming shows. They will need something newsworthy to write about from you and offer you some publicity.
  4. Add your biographies and EPK for extra publicity.
  5. Wait for a reply.

The type of publicity is just amazing that you get from this. People will take notice of you and, if they are not curious yet, they will certainly keep an eye and ear out to hear about you in the future as well.

For every little milestone you reach, email your contact person at the newspaper again to inform them about your new achievement.

After a couple of features, you will start to see a change in numbers at your gigs.

This has worked so well for me in the past. I still have the cutouts from various newspapers in a file at home. This also leads to us becoming well-known in our local city. Even random people out of our music genre started to recognise us regularly.

Randomly at grocery stores, delivery guys, bus drivers, and shopping malls people started to recognise and greeted us with the look of ‘I know you from somewhere’.

Young and modern people still read the newspaper. (Photo credit: Canva)

Nothing builds your confidence more than seeing your photo and featured article published in a newspaper.

De Wet Kruger

4) Get Your Booking System in Place

This only becomes problematic when you have too many bookings to deal with.

Little Steps

  1. As a beginner band, you will handle your own bookings to start off with.
  2. The more your gigs and admin starts to become, it might be really useful to get a band manager.
    • This is a person that brings in solutions to all the other areas outside of the band room and stage.
    • If you are wondering if this is the right thing for your band, I wrote a very helpful article about When is it Time to Find a Manager for Your Band?
  3. If you are making some decent money and you would like to make use of a promotion company for extra interviews, features and award entries, you can also make use of a promotional company.
    • They are pretty expensive, but worth it for your first couple of single releases.

Set-Up Your Band Website

Having a website means that you are a serious performer.

This gives venue owners and festivals an idea about your bands:

  • Professionality
  • Sound and Image
  • Mission and Vision
  • Background

I remember when my band was just entering the professional arena, our website was terrible. It had photos that totally mispresented who we were and made us look more like a boy band than a rock band.

We had a challenging time fixing this because we were not tech-savvy and our distribution company did it for us for free.

We only updated this a year after. Many festivals came to me saying that they were already looking into bringing us there during the previous year, but our website was amateur and brought us in a bad light.

My Tip: Make sure that your website presents exactly what and who you are. Failing to present this accurately could cost you future gigs, but having your website on point will win you many more!

5) Instagram Story Ads

The most bored people in the world have time to observe and check what others are doing.

The best way to promote your music is to actually take it to the people that want to discover something new and fresh.

Running an Instagram story ad takes your music organically to the people that will most likely also like your music. It’s absolutely worth it if you already recorded a single and can be made a promotion of.

I wrote a helpful article about Self-Marketing Your Music that goes more into depth about promoting your own music that I can recommend you to scan over.

6) Participate In Music Competitions

The classic model of Battle of the Bands has always delivered success to me as a successful musician.

The advantages are limitless:

  • You perform for a new and fresh audience
  • You network with other bands
  • You get to make a name for yourself

This is like an easy way to get long-term fans from other bands for your own sake.

If music competitions are something you are considering, I wrote an article you shouldn’t miss called Music Competition Participation: The Pros and Cons which has some valuable tips and my own experiences included.

7) Have a Unique Image

Walking off from the stage and leaving an impression behind takes skill and experience. But nothing is stopping you from shaping your image to stand out and be unique.

It doesn’t matter if it’s visual, symbolic, principled or if you motivate solidarity for a certain cause. You will create more fans and a bigger following when you stand for something prominent and confident!

I would like to point you out to two blog posts I published about this.

  1. You can read more about Your Image As an Artist here.
    • I am leading you in a direction to discover your image of who you were when you were young and when you looked up to other artists.
    • Perhaps it might unlock some of your sweet memories as a youngster too. 😉
  2. Go ahead and read How to Build Confidence as a Musician here.

8) Open For a Successful Artist

Perhaps one of the best ways to build a following is to open for a successful artist.

This doesn’t only prove that the artist himself approves of your status as a next-level musician, but you’re also exposed to hundreds or thousands of new fans and potential followers.

If this is something that you are keen to do, but unsure about how to accomplish, you shouldn’t miss the article I posted about Landing an Opening Gig for a Succesful Band which takes you through the easy steps I recommend to share the stage with a successful artist.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 29.05.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

Band night (Photo credit: Canva)

9) Arrange Local Band Nights

To create a bigger following we will need to expose our music to an audience that also enjoys your genre of music.

The best way to achieve this is to find a couple of similar artists in your area and arrange performances together in order to share each other’s fanbases.

There’s no such thing as competition in this industry. People don’t only listen to one album or one artist all their lives. It is absolutely safe to share each other’s fans and hold hands with each other as artists.

Arranging these performances can be a bit demanding, but not impossible. I’ve arranged many of them and I wrote a step-by-step guide to help you through the process of getting this done.

Go and check out my guide on The Guide to Organise an Amateur Band Night for Charity

Organising a charity event has a few advantages:

  • You get to do something for people in need (or animals or a cause).
  • People are more open to spending money when it’s for a good cause.
  • Artists don’t expect a fee and show solidarity to stand together.

I hope you found this article helpful!

Please leave a comment below if you have any suggestions.

Rock ‘n Roll

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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