In Africa, artistes struggle everyday to establish presence for themselves in a very crowded entertainment space. This unending hustle is needless when you get some things right from the beginning. You want to build fan base.
Having a fan base is like having your own apartment with your own furniture. You can always play around in the market place and in your neighbor’s house but you know you’ve got a place to rest your head and call home when play is all over.
In Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, underground artistes are distracted by the illusion that someone’s coming to sign them up pretty soon. This elusive dream has not only prevented artistes from working out their own strategy, but it has also limited their growth in other artistic areas.
Labels do not want to start your career from scratch, they want to come and snap you up when you’ve made some progress on your own, they want you to have developed skills. They are not trying to cook you, they are trying to sell what you’ve already cooked.
French Montana for example got signed to Diddy’s bad boy records after he had successfully build his own underground reputation using his own coke boy records.
Starting up from scratch is requires commitment and consistency, and that’s what this article is about. This could help you reach your first 1000 fans.
Building your own fan base is the way to go. The truth is that there are too many good rappers and singers in Nigeria, and the labels are not coming for everyone no matter how good you are.
But if we look at it carefully, you can create your own market within your state. Most young artistes are intimidated by the seemingly daunting tasks associated with fan base building because they don’t understand how easy and natural it is.
Here are some bullet points you should memorize before you read on
1. Fans are fickle and wavering. There is hardly any loyalty, they are not used to buying music.
2. Majority of them don’t know or care about you until other people start talking about you.
3. Social following can be misleading so do not trust it.
4. The best place to start is from your home zone.
In the beginning You do not need everyone to be your fan, you need a few people who fatally dig you. The first people in your fan base are your close friends and family. You will start building from here on.
BUILDING YOUR CORE BASE
The idea is to expand your already existing family and friends dominated fan base. These people have better options so you have to earn them.
1. Be seen and start keeping records
When you’re starting out, you need people more than they need you. You have to get on stage as often as you can so that they can see you. You could offer to do special numbers during your local church programs, churches are very forgiving and that makes them a good place to learn the ropes.
You can offer to rap battle to entertain guests at your friends birthdays party or even kick freestyles after class or at a an evening hangout. Take note of the people who cheer and try to get in touch with you after, those are your fans. Collect their numbers and keep it in a separate phone book. Keep records of these places where you get a good reception.
You’re doing all this so that people can see you, you may not even have your own record at this point. Once you’ve gained visibility in your locality you can proceed to stage two.
2. Reach out and collect contact numbers
At this point, people around you are beginning to recognize you as an artiste, It helps if you’re talented too. The next thing to do is to reach out to the local stake holders within your reach. You might be wondering who these stakeholders are; Producers and studios, Fellow artistes like you and the friends you’ve made up till now
Its not hard, occasionally send a happy new Month text, call your new rapper friends with bonus credit. The aim is to raise your first 1000 fans, so do not forget to collect the numbers of any new person who shows the slightest interest in you.
You should already have Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages by now, update them regularly with photos too.
Visit a studio and do a song with the producers around you, feature a guy that’s already well known and murder him. Put your handles as the album title and follow back every time.
Reaching out is just a way of announcing your presence, soon other people will be reaching out on your behalf. By now you wouldn’t have to request for appearances at your church or at parties because they will call you to put you on. Its necessary that you grow quickly from here by doing more of whatever you’ve been doing.
3. Gather and track your fans
The first two steps above are for hunting fans, now it’s time to gather them. This will give you a good insight on how well you’re doing in your area.
No one will take you serious if you aren’t making serious moves. Here, you should make progressive moves like announcing the release of a new song or organizing a small 2 hour listening party for your new 5 track EP.
To send the message across, you can send an invitation in an SMS blast to the hundreds of numbers you’ve been taking in step 1 and 2. You do not have a manager or a promoter so you’ve gotta be your own PR agent. Nigerian People love to feel involved in your project and this will give them an opportunity to give you feedback.
The people who show up are your core fans, take note of them. You need to create a personal/professional relationship with them because you’ll be asking them to buy your mix tape or share your post with their friends pretty soon.
Its good to put your music on any major music site but its way better for you work with a well renowned blogger in your area. They are cheaper to hire and much more enthusiastic about sharing your song within their networks.
So Keep Collecting contacts…
As more people get to see your work, a number of them will track you back. Try hard to collect their contact information when they get curious. You are collecting their contacts because you will mail or call them whenever you drop a new material. Have a phone list of people categorized as “music related”
You can also harvest mails by starting a website where you have your music and amateur videos on. There are plugins that enable you to collect visitors name and mails before they can continue viewing the freestyles you’ve uploaded on your site.
When anyone fills the subscription form, the site automatically updates the recipient about your newest post. You can get a free blogsite on blogger.com
If working on a website is difficult for you, you can rather focus on engaging your followers on Twitter and Facebook. Instead of spending time and energy on updating a site, you can the turn on your twitter to exchange messages.
Facebook allows you to promote your posts to reach more people with common interests. Ask them to drop their phone numbers or inbox you to get your freestyle.
Now you must constantly update your skill set, do better songs and give more shout outs to your supporters while repeating the steps above without becoming complacent.
When you’re satisfied with the number of people you’ve been able to connect into your work, you can now proceed to monetizing your projects.
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