As a developing artist, would you rather have 50,000 fans spread across the entire world or 25,000 fans in your home town?
Before the internet made it possible to connect with the world to spread your music around the globe, up and coming artists relied heavily on creating local scenes for their music. Hip Hop came out of New York, Grunge out of Seattle, and Punk Rock out of Southern California. All of these scenes led to mainstream explosion. Back then, the world was not connected. Local scenes were created and grew larger and larger until artists popped into the mainstream.
Why is it so important to build a local following in the physical world rather than just push your music out digitally to as many people as possible globally?
A local following creates a physical community of fans that will push your music and handle the promotion for you. There is something to be said about a group of people that can more easily come together physically rather than have individuals that are spread out. There is more of a personal connection. As an artist, your business exists both online and in the physical world. Look at any other business in the physical world. Sure they might have a website and sell online, but they need to focus on creating customers where they are located. Once they can master their local market, it's time to evaluate and branch out into the next market.
The idea of creating local scenes has been lost a lot since artists have the ability to focus so much of their promotion online to the masses. However, the fact that the internet provides such great connectivity and promotional tools doesn't conflict with an artist's ability to create local fan bases. Actually, it provides amazing tools to garner local exposure if artists use it right!
This is where location based music promotion is essential. If you are a local band, you should first focus your promotional efforts on your local area. When you utilize online tools to promote your music, focus your efforts to areas that have a large amount of people in your local geography. Most developing artists have very limited marketing budgets. If you are based in New York City and perform at local venues, why spend limited dollars trying to spread your music out to the UK before harnessing the power of your local fans? Let your fan base start spreading the music for you.
The internet and social communications have made it possible to literally bring your social life online. Having a community of fans that come together online can also be very beneficial to artists and can be utilized in conjunction with building your fan base in a physical location. If you can create a virtual location for your fans to come together, then you can more easily bring the power of your fans to the internet to let them spread your music to the masses.
Dispatch is a great example of this concept, although it wasn't entirely by design. Dispatch had a pretty strong following around the Boston area and much of the Northeastern United States. They had a regional fan base that they were able to produce a strong touring effort in the area. However, outside of this area, they were virtually unknown. Then Napster came along. Once music was easily transferrable via the internet, all of their regional fans started to share their music with the world and across the country. When they decided to put on a show out in California, they were shocked to perform at a sold out show in front of thousands of fans that knew all the words to their songs.
At Feature.fm, we provide a way to target your music locally. When you promote your songs inside streaming services, you have the ability to not only target to listeners based on music taste, but also to specific location in addition to age, gender, and more. We see many local artists the push their music to listeners in their region.
One of our artists had a pretty decent following in New York and were trying to determine which state they should branch out to next. They ran four tests, each within a neighboring state, to see which state had the best reaction to their music. The winner was Connecticut and they are starting to book shows there!