On this episode of the Co.Lab Sessions podcast, Grace Kim James shares her expertise for artists interested in not just reaching new audiences but sustaining a fanbase throughout their career. Grace Kim James is a senior vice president of marketing at Atlantic Records where she’s been responsible for driving the creative marketing strategy for artists like Bruno Mars, Janelle Monáe, Coldplay, and Lizzo.
Here, Grace explains how artists can deliver true value to their fanbase by keeping them engaged. She also talks about the importance of nurturing day one fans and the consistency and sweat equity necessary to keep that connection alive. Listen to the episode, plus check out key takeaways from Grace below.
Highlights from Grace Kim James’ Co.Lab Sessions episode
What worked with your first fans will work with your new fans
I think sometimes we think the new fan and the old fan are two different people. At the end of the day, they're very similar. Why did your old fan become a fan of yours? Remember that. Most likely, if you're being consistent, the new fan is going to be a fan of that. As much as you're talented, you're nowhere without your fans. It goes back to the longevity you want in your career. If you don't have those fans, no one hears how talented you are. People are going to be gravitating towards you, not just for the music, but for you as an artist. When you think of all the commonalities that the new fan and the old fan have, you can fuel that fire.
It takes sweat equity to grow and sustain a fanbase
You got to engage with the few people who are following you now. Again, a few may be five, it may be 50, but that means conversations, [sending] DMs. It means actually meeting people face to face at shows. It means signing stuff. It actually means being like, "Yo, I'm an artist. I would love it if you would check my stuff out." Or, "Hey, thanks so much for being here." Whatever that may be. Maybe you just did a live stream show for 50 people. That's 50 people who tuned in, and you can connect with each and every one of them. There's a reason why even today's biggest stars still do meet and greets. There's a reason they still sign autographs. There's a reason they still take selfies with fans. And I think those sorts of things go a long way. And some of the best artists and the biggest and the most quote-unquote, famous artists out there have all done that. They've all put in the sweat equity and the time to connect and touch people physically.
Put yourself in the shoes of fans and make sure you offer value
Always ask yourself, is this worth someone's time? Is this worth someone's money? Because if it's not, if they don't feel like they're getting something out of it, you're not going to retain that fan base. You're not going to give them something that's worth having. I think you sometimes have to put yourself in the fan’s shoes. You have to be mindful of who your audience is. You have to know who you're speaking to. You have to know who you're trying to reach, and that's being accessible. That's having access to data. That's knowing who your fan is because the reality is you're not going to reach everybody immediately.
Listen to more Co.Lab Sessions podcast episodes about building your team, creating a scene around your music, protecting your career, and more.