If I were to ask you how many fans you currently had, what would you say?
Would your answer be accurate and measurable or just a guess?
That’s the issue. As music artists, we have no real way of knowing the strength of our audience.
All we can do is guess.
We once considered our follower count a representation of our popularity, but algorithm changes have removed that option (Everybody knows that high follower counts don’t mean high engagement now!).
So, we have to formulate guesses based on our engagement. By noticing how many likes we are receiving on our social media posts.
Or, maybe we can look at sales conversions? We can see how many people are buying things at our live performances.
And, speaking of live shows: we could try to take note of how many people are coming to watch us perform.
Not too accurate or measurable, hey? Just guesses.
So, let’s rewind.
If I were to ask you how many fans you had, there would be no possible way for you to give me an accurate answer.
Yet, knowing and understanding the commitment level of your audience is absolutely essential if you want to be able to grow and move forward. This knowledge will allow you to tailor the correct content and offers to your audience, providing you with the opportunity to nurture those that support you and increase their commitment level to your music — after all, there’s no point asking people to listen to your music if you don’t have an audience that wants to listen to your music yet!.
Understanding the commitment level of your audience allows you to grow more, connect more and sell more than you ever have before.
For that, you need a Listen Path.
Your Listen Path is your new best friend.
A Listen Path is the metaphorical pathway that will move someone who has never heard about you or your music before toward becoming a lifelong true fan of everything you do. In absolute simplicity, your Listen Path will transition someone that says ‘I have no idea what you do’ into someone that says ‘I love what you do!’
A new listener will always begin at the start of your Listen Path. It’s not possible for any listener to start anywhere other than the beginning. As you provide more and more content, it will act as the ‘bricks’ that move them toward your endgame – becoming a true fan of your music.
The more compatible the listener is with your music, the smoother they’ll transition down your Listen Path. The more relevant and resonating your content is, the faster they’ll move.
A Listen Path is broken up into four stages of fandom, from the brand new listeners to the lifelong fans – and everything in between.
Let’s see it in the real world.
The best way to introduce the concept of a Listen Path is to talk about one of the only places it can be observed in real life–a live performance.
I want you to imagine that you are performing on stage at a small club. When you look out over the audience, you’ll clearly see the four stages of fandom right in front of your eyes (if you look hard enough). It’s pretty simple, actually: each group’s commitment level is hard to ignore.
Right up the back of the room, standing the furthest away from the stage are those that are just hearing your music for the first time. They might have just been walking by, heard your music and decided to take a quick look at what was going on. These are known as your Cold audience, the first stage of your Listen Path.
Standing in front of them – closer to the stage, yet still on the edge of the crowd – is the next stage of listener. They are usually standing there with their arms folded, watching you perform with a curious interest. They might have been brought to your performance by a friend. They might have heard about you online and decided to check you out. They might have seen your name on the poster. Regardless of how they found out about you, these listeners make up your Curious audience. They are not to be considered a fan just yet, but they are on their way. They have seen something they liked and are looking for that little bit of extra convincing to help them transition into becoming a real supporter.
Now, the next group of listeners is very easy to see. They are the ones in the crowd that sing along to your most popular songs and applaud enthusiastically after each song. They might even yell out a request every now and then. These are your Converted listeners, the third stage of your Listen Path. You could consider these listeners as fans. They have been exposed to enough of your content to become a fan and are loving every minute of it. Most music artists think that these fans are their endgame. Nope. There is one more stage to the Listen Path that will be significantly responsible for your biggest music dreams coming true. And they’re about five thousand times better than a mere fan.
They are the ones hanging off the front barrier, singing every word to every one of your songs at the top of their breath. They’ve looked forward to your performance from the moment it was announced. Your music has changed their life and they have built an unbreakable connection with you as an artist. They are your true fans. They make up the final stage of the Listen Path, your Cult listeners.
It’s that simple.