How To Get Your Fans To Identify With You
File Under: Creating and Maintaining Your Persona
One of the key reasons you create a persona for yourself is because you'll never meet most of the people who will discover or interact with your music today. Your persona is the image and impression of you they'll meet online and through your music, merchandise, and marketing. But as you develop how you want to appear to the world, you should also create some space in your persona for your fans to find their own place in it so they can take part and create a community.
As we talked in the DIY Advisor column, Making T-Shirt Designs That Sell, fans don't wear your t-shirts just because it has your logo, they do it because it says something about them and speaks to their identity. As you grow your persona, see if you can turn it into something that they can make their own. For example, in the Digital Music News article we highlighted in our column, The Secret To Building A Following On The Internet, fans of Clare Means created an identity around her persona. Clare used Periscope to stream her live performances on the Santa Monica Pier. She often ate gummi bears during her breaks. This caused fans to start calling themselves "Clare Bears" as a result. From this identity sparked a community. They even set up a fan website based on the name to help her raise money for a new guitar.
Other examples include the fans of the band, Insane Clown Posse took on the band's costumes and made it their own. Fans who dressed in costume and wore clown makeup like the band became known as Juggalos. And once fans self-identified under that name, they were more likely to come out to shows. The Grateful Dead had their "Deadheads" which would follow the band all over the country. And Lady Gaga had her "Little Monsters" that her fans adopted form a lyric in one of her songs. And once you have a name and an identity, an incidental benefit to having a community develop is it can become merchandisable.
Many of these happened organically, and although you might be able to come up with a name for your fans identity on your own, there's a risk because many don't want to be told who they are. The key to building a fanbase and a community around you and your music is to start at its core: your persona. Focus first on that, deepen your relationship with your fans, and a community can follow.
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