How to increase the size of your fan base

As a new band or solo artist, increasing the size of you fan base is often one of the hardest hurdles to overcome. Before you start to look at increasing your fan base, make sure you have enough material to support the high demand that you will undoubtedly be in once you have upped your profile. You don't want to be on a roll only to realise the 2 songs you have rehearsed and can play backwards on request have become overplayed and boring to fans. Always keep your material fresh and exciting.

Start by building a local fan base. Rehearse and rehearse until you know your material inside out. This is the point when you will want to look for and book local gigs. Confidence is vital when performing and knowledge of your music will come across in your gigs.
Once you are comfortable with and confident in your abilities to wow a crowd, create a 'mailing list' you can take along with you, announce to your audience that if they enjoy your music they can sign up to your list to hear your lastest news – maybe even receive freebies like a track download or music video preview. You might ask one of your more 'approachable' friends to take this around the venue during your performance or even just after you leave the stage so the audiences memory of your music is still fresh in their minds.
Get your stuff online. Ultimately online marketing is one of the strongest, easiest and free forms of advertising that you have at your fingertips. Create portals where people can view your music and hear about your next gig & latest news. If you are already on Facebook, this is a great place to start. Create a band page and upload some photos and music if you have any recorded, or even footage from your previous gigs, anything to engage future fans.
Once you have a page set up, share, share and share some more. A word of caution – be sensible with this, facebook will quickly close your account if they believe you are spamming and any future fans will simply find you annoying. Share but share wisely, invite all your friends to 'like' your page and once they have, perhaps write a thank you on their wall including a link to your page so their friends will also be able to see and check out your page themselves if they are interested in new music. Once you start to build up a basic fanbase, ask your more hardcore fans if you can tag them in future posts so these will not only show up on your band page but on their profiles aswell, pulling more traffic to your page, mix these up too, don't always tag the same people but get a wide variety and tag people in the posts you think will be most interesting to them and their friends. Someone has sent you an incredible performance photo, well post and tag your friends who are into art and photography, you have a new free download to give away, well post and tag your friends who are always looking for new running music or friends who may be able to get some airplay in the local coffee shop they work at on the weekends. Always think outside the box for coverage and to get your music heard whenever and wherever possible.
I would always suggest having both a Twitter account as well as a Facebook page. You will most likely find your mates prefer one or the other and so to keep everyone happy and engaged have both! There are many basic ways to build a fan base on Twitter. Initially follow your friends, they will in turn follow you back and you will have a core fanbase. Using twitters search methods, find people who like music similar to yours and follow them, be sure to state your similarities in your account bio (i.e sounds like Incubus / Katy Perry / Jack Johnson / Metallica - whoever you are often compared to) so this will be one of the first things they see when checking out your profile. Again, always provide links to your music where possible so fans can hear your music for themselves.

One of the strongest promotional tools you can have is YouTube. Everyone loves watching videos. If you don't have access to a professional camera, an iphone will be just as good initially. Film your best rehearsals and upload footage of your most popular tracks. If you are in a band and two or three of you have iPhones, film the same rehearsal from different angles and you even use iMovie to create your own basic music video. Again post and share. Create a band account and become an active member of YouTube, check out other musicians videos, subscribe to your favourite ones and give feed back, ask them to return the favour and do the same for you. Ask your fans to tell you their favourite songs and create covers for them, these will also show up when YouTubers search for their favourite songs and come across your cover, with a link to your artist page. They may like your cover so much they search for your other music and become fans that way.
Increase your profile as musicians by sharing your knowledge. Are you better at the bass than flea, well maybe create a bass video covering a popular song with step my step fingering techniques to teach beginners how to play their favourite songs as professionally as you, and remember always link back to your band!
Their are many sites who offer to sell you 'likes' or 'follows', while this may make you look good, it makes it tricky for you to target your real fans and understand how well you are doing and how far you have come organically so I would always advise against it.
Ultimately there are endless ways to increase your fan base but most importantly, think outside the box and have fun with it! If your audience can see your enjoying yourself they will in turn enjoy your music.