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Making the Most of Your Fanbase - AmericanaFestUK Highlights

What do you know about your fans, and how can you use that data to develop that crucial artist/fan relationship? Highlights from AmericanaFestUK, supported by the Musicians’ Union (MU).

Frank Turner
What do you know about your fans, and how can you use that data to develop that crucial artist/fan relationship? AmericanaFestUK, run by the Americana Music Association UK and supported by the Musicians’ Union (MU), explored how to make the most of your fanbase in a panel featuring Frank Turner (artist), Auyon Mukharji (artist), Amy Pinnock (Reverbnation) and Sammy Andrews (Deviate Digital).

Starting out with data doesn’t have to be complicated

Take information from the online platforms you’re already using, such as streaming services and social media. “Geographic data alone can help you identify where to tour now,” says Sammy Andrews.

Data can affect everything

It’s not just about where you go. Andrews suggests using it to inform what kind of merchandise you create and what to take to different locations.

For Amy Pinnock, it’s useful to think about how that information can inform the language you use to market your work.

Data can even affect your lyrics. Is there something in a song turning people off? “You’re not going to get that feedback from your friends and family,” suggests Pinnock.

But be careful how you read it

Even Radio 1 tests songs, adds Andrews, although she warns against taking testing data as writ.

Streaming may have opened up new territories and the data that goes with them but being able to understand what that the information at your fingertips means is crucial.

You may have millions of plays in Russia but weighted by population, you may not be as popular as a quick glance at the data may suggest.

And you need the goods to back it up

“Going out and being creative for a living is the greatest privilege there is,” says Frank Turner.

For Turner, the challenge is cutting through. To do that, being good at marketing is not good enough. You need the substance.

“Make honest art. Make art worth listening to,” Turner advises.

Whatever you do, don’t buy followers

If you buy followers, you can’t make decisions based on the data because your dataset will be wrong from the start, warns Andrews.

“Don’t worry about numbers. Worry about quality of interactions with the ones who are there,” she suggests. 

Finding an artist at the start of their journey can also make fans feel special, says Pinnock, who suggests looking at it like a community building exercise. 

Be authentic

Finding your identity as an artist or band can take time, and it is constantly evolving, says Auyon Mukharji. “It’s not something you can decide ‘this is just going to be it’. Figure out what you feel like presenting and what feels natural to you,” he suggests.

Andrews agrees that authenticity is key. Fans are savvy, and if the tone is wrong and doesn’t match who you are then they can easily tune out of what your putting out there, she warns.

Artists can’t just pop up on social media when they’ve got something to promote anymore, but balance is also important. Quality, not quantity, is key to building a successful artist/fan relationship.

Learn more about the Americana Music Association UK via theamauk.org
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Photo: Frank Turner onstage at the UK Americana Awards, photographed by Joanna Dudderidge on behalf of the Musicians’ Union. 


Published: 14/02/2018

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