Fan love equals sales surge: 3 proven tactics for fan-driven success

Written by Aidan Wilson

"And in the end," the Beatles once sang, "the love you take is equal to the love you make."

It's a beautiful sentiment - but if anything, we've found you only have to put in a little love to see a huge amount in return.

In a fragmented, saturated and algorithm-dominated market, genuine emotional connection with fans is like gold dust. The more an artist leans in to their community, the more loyalty and support their fans generate. And as we work with clients from Fall Out Boy to Starbucks, we’re talking about more than just good vibes: the loyalty of highly-engaged superfans in spaces like Discord directly drives ROI and KPIs, from engagement and marketing to conversion and sales. Just one example of the value of superfan loyalty: the top 2% of an artist's Spotify listeners buy 52% of merchandise.

An artist who occasionally drops a download, tour tickets or merch to a mass audience is failing to dial into the untapped potential of their superfans. Happily, artists don't have to dedicate inordinate amounts of time to their community. All that's needed is to follow a few crucial strategies which work for any musician, sports team, podcast and media - any brand looking to identify and leverage their superfans.

Levellr works with pop superstars like Fred again.. and Fall Out Boy as well as brands from The Anfield Wrap to Starbucks. Building, supporting and nurturing these communities, we've seen these three key tips work time and again.

Tip #1: Build a direct line of communication

Fans love feeling like they're hanging out with an artist, which keeps them coming back to a dedicated and safe space. Broadcasting to a mass audience on social media gets the message out, but when fans can only add to an endless scroll of comments beneath an Instagram post they don't feel like anyone hears them. By contrast, messaging apps such as Discord place fans and artists into a genuine two-way conversation.

Artists see this bond grow and drive results when they actively engage with fans by answering questions and initiating conversations. When fans see a server as a genuine channel for interacting with their favourite artist, overall fan engagement increases. This dialogue does more than give fans a warm glow: a loyal community promotes the artist with free organic word-of-mouth marketing on other channels, as well as spending more on streams, tickets and merch.

That feedback loop between artist and fans allows an artist to scope out opportunities, for example with polls on possible future merch so fans feel invested in the choice and more likely to buy.

Examples of direct artist to fan communication

  • Interacting with messages and group chats.
  • Asking questions and prompting conversations in the announcements channel.
  • Answering fan questions in the AMA (Ask me anything) channel and throughout the server.
  • Encouraging participation in the Discord-ideas channel where fans can suggest server improvements.

Tip #2: Be consistent

To keep fans coming back, it's crucial to cement the server as a place where they can expect to interact with the artist. If fans feel neglected, they drift away. But if the server feels like a unique opportunity to engage with the favourite brand, they’ll keep coming back as long as there’s always something to come back for.

This starts with input from the artist. But it doesn't mean an artist has to devote a disproportionate amount of time in the channel, especially in hectic times like an album launch or tour. It means creating a sense that the artist has a presence and a genuine interest in the channel, via personal contributions by the artist and exclusive content from their team.

Contributions from the artist themself includes regular updates about their life and music in the announcements channel, spotlight the exciting things the artist is already doing with behind-the-scenes photos, casual tour bus diary videos, and thoughts on upcoming tours and song releases. Maisie Peters is queen of this kind of intimate relationship, giving fans a glimpse into her life while creating and promoting no. 1 album The Good Witch.

Blonde-haired singer Maisie Peters poses with smiling young fans.
Maisie Peters meets fans both in real life and in the Discord community, with personal updates and more.

To keep things going, Levellr tools make it easy for brands to continue the conversation in an organic but efficient way. Via Levellr, the artist or brand’s team can share content which is exclusive to Discord, which  increases the bond between fans and artist. Members know they’re being rewarded for being the artist or brand’s most passionate and engaged superfans, a crucial demographic that drives outsized results.

When new content arrives consistently over time, it keeps the community activated - and new members signing up - even in quieter periods between albums, events or launches. With just a little priming, a community forms decentralised friendships that add up to self-sustaining and ongoing loyalty for a brand.

Examples of consistent communication

  • Voice notes on daily experiences, tour anticipation, and song releases.
  • Behind-the-scenes videos offering glimpses of the artist's world.
  • Updates on the progress of the next album or project.

Tip #3: Encourage Collaboration

A huge way to boost overall fan engagement is encourage fan collaboration. Artists and brands have always inspired fans, and fans feel a deep emotional connection when given a safe space to share their creativity.

Artists who promote collaboration signal their respect and appreciation for fan, fostering a sense of value and motivating fans to actively participate. This adds up to more engagement, but again, there's more. Community-generated-content is a treasure trove of potential marketing material, all of which is organic, authentic and free.

A bearded man in a white t-shirt stands onstage at a concert and looks pleased.
Ólafur Arnalds has even invited members of his OPIA community to join him onstage.

For each fan, the reward can feel like a once-in-a-lifetime claim to fame: having their artwork appear on an album cover, for example. When artists Fred again.. and Leigh Anne Pinnock invite fans to submit voice notes, fans get involved for a chance to become part of the music. And after composer Ólafur Arnalds founded the OPIA community for fans to create music and art together, he recruited community member Sofi Paez to join him onstage at a community-focused live show in Berlin.

These tips for involving fans are transferable to wherever makes most sense for the artists’ community or objectives. If an artist has a song release coming up and wants to hold fan-led listening parties to market it around the world, the starting point is to provide select fans with clear instructions and support to set up events around the world. Fans then host listening parties around the world.

What involving fans can look like

  • Identify the artist's collaboration goal, whether it's a new album cover or a song release.
  • Provide fans with a clear example and explain the purpose of their contributions.
  • Create a dedicated space on the server for fans to submit their work.
  • Await the influx of collaborative content!

Vanilla Ice wasn’t far wrong when he said, "Stop, collaborate and listen." When an artist or brand gives something to a community, the community gives back. Communication, consistency and collaboration are the key ingredients to build a community that gives more love in return.

And that's what matters in the end. Just ask the Beatles.

Your superfans are waiting. Contact Levellr today to find out how you can build a community which works for your brand.

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