Building A “World” For Fans
As a marketer for your own work of art, you face specific challenges that are made harder by the fact that your end product is a purely subjective one. With this being the case, your approach to marketing your own music will take a much more sentimental approach than a conventional market would necessitate. As musicians and marketers, we need to be able to understand what our music does for our fans…
Something so ethereal can seem like an impossible task - and in many respects, it’s a pursuit you’ll never fully conquer. Knowing the effect that your music has on your fans and their many personalities is more or less impossible, but trying to know is a practice we can perform every day to help us make a bigger impact.
What we call “worldbuilding” can help set up habits, assets, systems, and content to continually try to understand our fans more. Additionally, it sets up opportunities for fans to understand us more in the process.
It may sound like an over-the-top title for a music marketing concept, but is a fairly simple concept that sets up a great marketing mindset for musicians - an online “world” is what takes your social media profiles from content store-houses to an interactive, extended conversation between artist and fan.
Switch from a “Promotion” to a “Connection” Mindset
When many artists first confront marketing, they often feel tripped up and constricted to doing the “conventional” approach. However, all this does is serve to limit the sentiments and creativity of the artist in question which are some of your main selling points! The worldbuilding concept helps artists such as yourself get out of your head when it comes to marketing. Instead, it will allow you to focus on expressing yourself, creating community, and creating engagement opportunities all while selling yourself natively.
In the world of music marketing, connection is promotion. The best thing you can do to secure a listener or fan is not to repeatedly ask them to listen, but to instead build an environment where, if and when they listen, they will be in a position to extend on that experience indefinitely.
For many musicians that have failed to build a world around their music, they end up setting up shop entirely on a platform like TikTok where their 15 seconds of fame can come and go before they can capitalize on the attention. Setting up a “world” to create “connection” opportunities perfectly poises you to be ready for incoming attention.
What is a “World”?
In the simplest terms, your online “world” is a content and engagement strategy that reads fan response, and responds in kind. Keeping up this practice creates a fanbase that understands that engagement is rewarded and that their fandom is implicitly a “vote” in the art you pursue, even if not monetary.
Consider your conventional music artist Instagram account, featuring press photos and live shots with a standard short caption. An Instagram like this does not invite a fan in. It doesn’t give them much to comment on, message about, or interact with - even if it’s the coolest artist in the world. What’s more is that, while you are likely very cool, you are still building your fanbase. Leaving interaction on the table is a criminally missed opportunity at this stage - you need every fan you can get!
Treating your social media profiles instead like a world to be lived in supercedes this conventional approach 100 times over. Putting out content that is relevant to fans, creating conversations in DMs and comments sections, and actively creating moments of interactions via stories, posts, contents and games turns your profile into a world for fans to roam, and one that evolves as they do so.
Using a Topic Wheel to “Build” Your “World”
In a previous advanced lesson, the Topic Wheel exercise was introduced. Your Topic Wheel answers can act as tentpole concepts for the “world” you build online for your fans. You can consider yourself the main “actor” of your world, where your fans have the ability to interact and participate. The way you present this character and start constructing a world is through the creation and delivery of creative content that speaks to and contributes to a culture.
Your Topic Wheel will help you understand the culture and “environment” you want to build online. Those topics can offer clear kickoff points for more topics of conversation, content pieces, and interaction. Another way to discover further interaction points is by observing other artists in your genre. Check out their content, their social profiles, the profiles of their fans, and what kind of conversations they are having. What kinds of interests are present? Think about how you can contribute to this culture and what kinds of things you can speak to in your own unique way.
Before actually creating any assets or initiatives that will set up your online world, isolating on these starter interests is necessary. This way, you have a clear directive for what will comprise these things.
Building Your World
Once you are more practiced in being an engaging presence online, you will understand how to grow and maintain a few social platforms at once. However, for starters, focusing on the platform for which you are a more avid user is a good starting place so that you can avoid burnout. Additionally, you will have the best sense of this platform automatically and are more likely to enjoy the content creation and engagement process here.
With that platform selected, make an assessment of everything the platform has to offer. The functions of this platform are what inform the kind of worldbuilding that can be done. For example, the major features of Instagram are Stories, the Feed, Reels and Direct Messages. Itemizing these features and understanding how they can be meaningfully used to create points of interactions and demonstrate a fan/artist connection can get you started with brainstorming how you can leverage them in your world.
As an example, let’s imagine a song release as a moment to activate your Instagram as a “world”. What kinds of questions, quizzes, and polls can you create in Stories around that song? Can you think of a number of reels that you can create - perhaps ones that interrelate or tell a story? Always give intention to using your music as a backdrop to your content. If you have lyrics that speak to a universal human experience, consider recreating that scene and using your music as the backdrop in a reels post or feed post. Use your song to create a visually interactive moment that relates to people.
Remember that you can also consult your topic wheel to create other kickoff moments that are always relevant even when there’s not a new “thing” to be unveiled. The above approach can be applied at any point to relevant interests and conversations that you and your fans empathize with.
The Education Phase of the Buddy System Is Your “World”
As explained in the main lessons of this training, the Education Phase of the Buddy System actually serves a synergistic purpose. First, it creates moments for fans to educate themselves on you to reach a moment of appreciation that extends past simply liking one or a few songs of yours. Secondly, it allows you as the artist to understand what kinds of fans you’re attracting so that you can better cater to them in the future - AND become clairvoyant on how to attract new fans with a bigger impact and more cheaply.
Your “world” is essentially this system. It’s a content and interaction ecosystem that ushers fans in and naturally creates and exchange of sentiments and ideas between artist and fan. This is an invaluable thing to have occur around your art. In decades past, marketers couldn’t have dreamed of a place where artists could have a constant and overwhelming stream of information to help better serve their current and future fans.
Leverage your content to get your fans talking to you about who they are. Your content should create opportunities for your fans to talk about themselves so you can learn from them. Start with yourself, but do it in a way that opens the door for fans to show you who they are along the way. Share a story and then ask a question to open that door. The conversations you develop with your fans is what builds the world.
As artists, choosing a “connection” mindset rather than a “promotion” mindset will allow you to sell the best parts of yourself in a native way. So remember, for you, connection is promotion.
To create this connection, viewing your social media profiles as a “world” rather than a place to window-shop content is key.
Your Topic Wheel results create obvious kickoff points and validated conversation topics that your fans likely share with you. The content you design and conversations you start can be based around these topics at first, and may endure well into the future if they routinely are empathized with.
Taking your topics to your social media platforms of choice are what it truly means to “build your world”. Understanding every feature of the platform and getting creative without how to use them to coax fan interactions, broaden the horizon on yourself as an artist, and tell a continually compelling story is what it’s all about.
All in all, you can consider this living, breathing “world” to be the place where the Education Phase of the Buddy System takes place.
If you have a good sense of what it means to take your social media channels and turn them into a “world”, you can mark this lesson complete!