So here’s one of the best ways to cultivate true fans. This is going to sound crazy but I swear to god it works. It’s also one of the best ways to push your personal relationships in general. That is simply – sharing some of your non-musical or even non-genre interests. This is key for differentiating.
How does it work? Simple. Differentiating allows fans to tie you in with something else. Going outside the genre means you have a stronger tie to people who are into that particular thing. Furthermore, it doesn’t really alienate anyone else. With this in mind, we’ll talk about how it starts to make YOU more fans.
3. How To Differentiate
In terms of the ‘how’ you differentiate this step is simple. It can be anything from an external interest, like Heavy Temple putting out a funk cover to something more tied into your band’s branding, the way War Cloud has a military aviation theme going. They even call their fans the ‘Flight Crew’ to fuel the fighter pilot imagery.
This isn’t something that you should overthink, it should just be something that makes you special. What do you care about that isn’t immediately tied into your genre? Hell even if something IS tied into your genre, how is your take on it unique? A great example of this is Napalm Death and their very clear-sighted political opinions going ahead and shoulders over their peers.
2. Why You Should Go Outside your Genre
Going outside normal genre tropes though is awesome because it really helps people to see you as a more fleshed-out person. Sometimes I like to present the same old ideas in new contexts because I get a better reaction for whatever reason. For instance, I once filmed a Bacon’s Bit at my families farm in France, a bunch of people suddenly reached out and connected with me in a whole new way because of that!
The point being – people want connection points. If you’re a death metal band they probably already know a lot of death metal tropes. However, if you’re a death metal band who are also super open about their passion for I don’t know… Magic the Gathering and KISS you are going to get people feeling more connected because they share those interests.
1. How This Makes You More Fans
Ultimately humans like people who are into the same shit as them, even within a micro-community like the underground metal scene. It’s all about getting that extra little bit of attention focused on you. That extra shot of ‘look we’re real and relatable and there’s an additional reason why you, in particular, would enjoy listening to us!’
The best part is unless the thing you are trying to differentiate is incredibly inappropriate or not okay you’re not really going to have any drawback. So what you’re a nu-metal band also into Dungeons and Dragons? The D&D people will think that’s rad, other fans won’t NOT like you because you’re into D&D. They’ll just focus on the music.
In other words, a huge part of the branding your band is being able to show the different ways that you are engaged with your community and the different things you are interested in. You need to be more than just a single faceted thing, give people a reason to connect and they will!
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Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.
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