Why Fan Relationships Make or Break Artists
We recently spoke with Jason Lekberg, founder of Lekberg Enterprises - a label services company providing the infrastructure for artists to market themselves globally without sacrificing rights or royalties. Our chat centerd on the growing importance of building direct relationships between artists and fans in today's landscape dominated by streaming and endless musical choices.
You watch the full conversation here, or read on to discover insights on how to create meaningful, lasting connections with your fans.
The Shift Towards Artist-Fan Intimacy
With endless musical options a click away, grabbing listeners' sustained attention is difficult. Building an invested audience requires consistently showing up and giving fans a reason to care.
According to Jason, owning your fan data and communications is critical. While third-party platforms aid discovery, your most devoted supporters come through owned channels like your email list and website.
Fellow industry expert Ari Herstand echoes this: "Your email list is your lifeline." Superfans crave insider access and connection - they'll engage via an artist's owned channels.
Own Your Ecosystem as an Artist
Jason houses all his artists' websites on Shopify stores disguised as traditional websites. This provides all the key backend functions like customer relationship management, sales reporting, and digital downloads while retaining full ownership of first-party customer data.
Integrated tools like Single then enable offerings like live streaming, memberships, subscriptions, virtual events and more all directly on those owned Shopify storefronts rather than third-party platforms.
"Your most devoted supporters will come through your owned channels." - Jason Lekberg
Balancing Exposure and Ownership
It can be tempting to maximize exposure on major platforms. However, Jason argues balancing widespread reach with exclusive experiences on owned channels is crucial. By premiering early content or re-airing an old show in your store, you can better drive fans to your owned ecosystems - be it on your webstore or elsewhere.
Want some practical tips?
- Give superfans early previews instead of total exclusives
- Some exclusivity is good, but avoid limiting access too much
- Special perks and VIP treatment doesn't always require a walled garden
Share Your Story and Rituals
At the core, Leberg says it's about building narrative and ritual over time for fans to cling onto. Whether that's a consistent merch item, a scheduled content calendar, or timed celebrations, repetition helps power algorithms and builds the emotional connection. Artists must think about why they create and the story they tell, just as much as the art itself, to develop diehard fans that will support for the long run.
It also means listening to your supporters and interests beyond just the music to determine what your biggest fans really want from you. Catering special rewards and perks to different fan tiers and preferences is key to cementing their dedication and loyalty to you as an artist. Or even personal interaction with the artist, even in small doses, can be hugely rewarding.