Fostering the artist-fan relationship in the digital world 


Once upon a time, rock stars and celebrity artists were positioned as unreachable idols who came down from their lofty positions to play concerts and grant interviews for regular mortals to experience.

And while that’s still mostly true today, we see global superstars like Cardi B and Davido now comment on fans’ Instagram pictures; and Adekunle Gold, for example, writes and sends personalised newsletters to fans. While an artist’s personality is a great factor in the level of connection with fans, you may be wondering why they have made themselves so accessible to the level of common social media users. Well, it is most likely because they have to.

In today’s wired marketplace, artists have to forge a personal relationship with their audience to keep their fans’ interest. And for many, that means creating opportunities for fans to have an inside look into all aspects of an artist’s life. Save for major mainstream stars, the days of artists being put on an isolated pedestal are long gone; fans are far too savvy and options are far too many for an artist to appear to be operating in a different universe. Fans demand access at unprecedented levels, so artists must either provide this access or be skilled at creating the illusion of it.

With a huge push from digital technology, music is zipping around the world at the speed of light, bringing artists, fans and cultures together. Due to the ease of accessing music on streaming platforms like Audiomack and YouTube, fans have become less-invested in the artists who create the songs they enjoy. Hundreds of songs by hundreds of artists are added to a playlist by the average user. As a result, artists must do more to grab a fan’s attention and get them to listen to more of their work.

The importance of fan engagement

What has caused this shift toward fan engagement? The simple answer is the Internet. The more complex answer is that the Internet has become so woven into the fabric of our culture as to create a sense of immediate fulfillment, and enable complete access to almost anyone and anything.

Never before have consumers had more choices on how to entertain themselves. The avenues for information are exponentially greater than even 10 years ago. With this has come a massive sense of empowerment in music fans. No longer are they limited to what access or content an artist deems worthy to mete out.

The physical technology and the conceptual structure of the Internet have given fans the ability to craft their own online experiences. If one artist is not providing the type of engagement a consumer seeks, the odds are very high that some other comparable artist is. This puts the fan in a position of greater power and influence than ever seen before in the music industry. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic ushered the world into a technological evolution, fundamentally changing the way fans engage with artists and their content.

But this isn’t necessarily bad news for artists, labels, managers, or anyone else in the chain. Savvy artists that tap into existing and developing technologies can deliver something to their fans that satiates their demand for an insider glimpse — while also keeping control over the band’s image.

Harnessing digital platforms

Today’s artists have something that they’ve never had before, and that’s a direct line of communication with their audience. Direct Streaming Platforms – like Audiomack – provide listeners with the ability to support their artists from their homes, cars, beds, and virtually anywhere. In addition to democratising music and making it accessible to all, Audiomack has also stepped forward to foster artist/creator and fan relationships amid the technological boom.

In December 2021, Audiomack launched Supporters, an exclusive feature that gives users the power to support artists by directly contributing to their favourite songs and album releases. This not only provides artists with a new revenue stream, but also allows creators and their fans to form a direct connection in this digital world.

Providing further insights on the feature, Dave Macli, Audiomack Co-Founder & CEO, said: “Through Supporters, fans purchase support badges for an individual song and album releases that are then memorialised on their Audiomack profile and the artist’s individual song or album page. The purchase also opens fans up to ‘exclusive’ direct messaging options with artists, which artists could, for example, use to grant early access to merchandise, music, or behind-the-scenes footage”.

Since the launch of the feature, over half of all independent artists using the Supporters feature have since increased their earnings by at least 30 percent via direct fan contributions, and over 25,000 artists on the platform have received direct assistance since the feature’s inception eight months ago.

Leveraging exclusivity to bridge the gap

Recently, Laycon, a Nigerian rapper and songwriter, generated five times the revenue vs. streaming alone for his song ‘God Body V2’. This ground-breaking result was recorded less than a month after Audiomack announced the debut of Premiere Access, an industry-leading feature that allows artists to reward their biggest fans by making unreleased projects available on Audiomack before the general release. This first-of-its-kind feature not only provides a new way for artists on Audiomack to generate revenue beyond the traditional form of streaming, but also deepens the connection between artists and fans.

The importance of fan engagement has been established, and if it’s important for household-name artists to connect with their fans on digital platforms, how important is it for lesser-known artists to connect with their fans on this platform? Very! The problem with all of this is that many artists are introverted, creative types who have pursued music instead of social relationships.

Tapping into Africa’s burgeoning talent

To support the growth of upcoming artists across Africa and further deepen the relationship between artists and fans, Audiomack launched the Open Verse Challenge, which sees upcoming artists deliver renditions of a more established artist’s song. It ran a successful course, considering Adekunle Gold’s recent 5 Star challenge which received over 800 entries from across the continent for a chance to be discovered by millions of people on Audiomack, home studio gear, a top 20 trending placement on Audiomack, an editorial playlist feature on Audiomack as well as a push notification to their winning entry to all of their Audiomack followers.

Digital technology has played a major role in making different types of music accessible to fans, listeners, music aficionados, and downloaders all over the world. The world of music production, consumption and distribution are no longer the same, and the shift is placing the power back into the hands of the artists and fans.

There are now solutions available for artists to distribute their music directly to the public while staying in total control of all the ownership, rights, creative process, pricing, release dates, and more. As technological innovation continues to sweep the music industry, direct streaming platforms have become an increasingly important component of artists’ promotional arsenal, and Audiomack provides a platform for artists to grow their careers while fostering artist-fan relationships.

>>>the writer is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy at Audiomack

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