File Under: Making Money With Music, Creating and Making Your Music, Building Your Web, Social, and Mobile Presence

Last week we dove into the first five ways you could interact directly with your fans and give them that personal connection beyond your music, all while making money. While the first five focused on ideas centered around playing live, this week we'll share five additional ways you can build your relationship with your fans no matter where they are and whether you play live shows or not.

As we noted last week, fans today have greater expectations from the artists they love. Your interaction with your fans will make a difference in cultivating and growing your audience. Using social media to talk with them is only one way to give your audience a feel for who you are. There are many ways you can use your live show in creative ways to build connections, all while generating revenue since some of your superfans may pay you for this access.

But if you don't play live, we've got you covered -- consider using one or more of the following as fanclub perks, crowdfunding/patronage rewards, or other ways to connect with your fans:

6. Stream while you're writing, recording, or mixing the music.

Many fans wants to know how their favorite musicians create the music they love. If you don't mind letting fans behind-the-scenes on the creation process, you can give them access to a unique experience. To do this, all you need is a webcam, a microphone, and a video streaming and communication tool such as Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, Facebook, Twitch, or Skype. As we discussed in detail in our DIY Advisor article, The Secret to Building a Following on the Internet, streaming can be a powerful way to grow an audience. But if you want to charge for access, you can restrict your stream to a select number of participants, but letting them see you create, record, or mix your music is especially ideal as a high-level reward on your patronage or crowdfunding site.

7. Hold a listening party.

Whether you're releasing a single, EP, or full album (and you do want to plan your releases around today's streaming world), consider making an event out of it by throwing a listening party for your superfans. If you play live, this can be in addition to your album release show. These can be big events held at a live venue, a bar, a coffeehouse, restaurant, or some other space where you can control the audio. Or, they can be more intimate, such as at your studio, rehearsal space, or home. And don't simply let the music play, make it interactive and give them an experience they'll remember. Share stories on how you created the songs in between the tracks. Or, share the meaning behind the lyrics and what inspired you.

Keep in mind you can have multiple listening parties -- ones for different sets of your audience. For instance, you can restrict the first listening party to just your superfans or highest paying patronage or crowdfunding supporters. Then you can throw a second listening party that's open to everyone. These events can also be streamed like we suggest in #6 above, or you can keep them private and local.

8. Stream and play video games with your fans.

As we said, fans want to interact with you, and while it's your music that hooked them onto you, building a deeper relationship with your fans doesn't need to be limited to music. If you're a video gamer, another way you can interact with your fans is to stream your game playing online with your fans. Watching others play video games is big business. In fact, the streaming site Twitch generates 100 million page views per month, with millions of video gamers broadcasting their games. Visitors show up to watch, chat online, and even participate and play along. Twitch shares ad revenue your channel creates with you, but Twitch also allows you to charge your audience and channel subscribers for access (usually through Paypal). And, like building any following, if you become popular enough, brands can come calling.

9. Travel or set up a day trip with your super fans.

Another way to interact and reward your superfans is to set up a travel event with your top fans. These can be day trips around the city or multi-day travel events. If you plan the event right, you not only create a special experience for your fans, you can also work it so your trip is free. Ideally, your event would be connected to your music, but it doesn't have to be. For instance, back in 2007, the Brobdingnagian Bards, who are a Celtic/Irish music duo, planned out a week long trip to Ireland and invited their fanbase to join them. They worked out the flights, hotels, the itinerary, and transportation all in advance. And, they included time for concerts. In the end, they created a single fee for the entire package and ensured it was enough to cover their costs.

Of course, you don't have to set up a week-long Ireland trip, you can create half-day, full-day, or overnight events that are local or in your area. Perhaps it's something related to your music, but it doesn't have to be. In our talks with musicians, just mentioning this as a possibility to some had their minds reeling on the possibilities -- camping concerts, group outings to catch a mainstream musician who inspired you, a restaurant series in their town, and more.

10. Boat Cruise with your super fans.

Similar to #9 above, setting up a boat cruise with your fans has become a concept that blends music with a vacation. One of the advantages of a cruise is it's a multi-day getaway where the hotel, transportation, and often food costs are already bundled. Work this out with the right cruise line and you can get a bunch of cabins set aside for your fans, as well as stages to play on. Your fans (and you!) get to take a full vacation while giving your fans some quality hangout time with you. Check out what Jonathan Coulton has put together as a guide to how this can work for you.

As we noted, all ten of the ideas we've shared in the last two weeks are simply to get you thinking on what's possible given today's technology and communication tools. Your fans want to connect with you beyond your music, and some are willing to pay for the experience. These special experiences generate stories they can tell, and are more likely to talk about you with their friends and on their own social media. This can further grow your fanbase.

And while some of the ideas may not be right for you or your music, or meet your privacy or social media tolerance, they may spark some ideas of your own. Of course, if you hit on something we haven't mentioned, contact us via twitter @indieguide or write us directly at We'd love to hear about it.


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Photo credit: sgbirch