The A&R pro dissects identifying and growing your audience.
As an artist, you know it's all about the fans. But what exactly is a fan? What can you do to understand and connect with them? In a recent conversation for our Co.Lab Sessions podcast, Warner Records' SVP of A&R Ericka J. Coulter chatted about successful strategies you can adopt to gain your first fans and grow a true fan base.
In addition to being an industry pro, Coulter's love of supporting artists led her to create the industry movement and L.A. artists showcase, The Basement. "You can be signed to a major label and still be trying to figure it out, or you could be independent and be doing your thing but still need that extra push," she says. "This is now a room for you to be in with some people that can help."
Read on below for three of the top things Coulter advises you keep in mind to cultivate your audience.
"What's the message?"
Fans, she says, "wanna feel what's real. We wanna know about you, wanna know where you came from, how you got into this music, and how consistent you're gonna be. If you keep giving me something and I like it, I'm gonna keep coming back to it. I'm gonna be reeled in. And then when you try to experiment and do other things, I'm invested in you. So therefore, whatever you try I'm game."
Always start with defining what you're trying to say as an artist, she says. "What do you want people to be able to relate to you about? From there, it just trickles down into your music, into your brand and just the overall package of building that fan base."
"You need to get outside of the house."
"We're in a world right now where people can record, mix, master, and do everything in their bedroom," she explains. "That is amazing. But guess what? I can't see you."
"So you have to get on the road. If you want people to hear you, if you wanna be discovered, if you wanna bump shoulders with the possible right people, if you wanna pull up to The Basement, you have to come outside." And that's, "on top of working your socials and being consistent with your music. You gotta do all of it."
"I'm not telling you to go perform at the Staples Center tomorrow, so let's start off small," she adds. "Research. Tap in. If you're in college, if you're not popping at your college, I'm sorry, you're not hot [to] me."
"Put it out."
"I've had artists come to me and managers and [say], 'My records are so incredible,'" she says. But when she asks those artists if they have any music out, they say, "'No, because I'm waiting until I sign a deal, and then we're gonna put it out, and then we're gonna do X, Y, and Z. That's the worst thing you could ever do. You have to put it out. You have to see for yourself... Maybe they don't like it, or maybe they love it, but how will you know if you're sitting on it in your laptop?"
Listen to Ericka J. Coulter's full Co.Lab Sessions episode and then check out other Co.Lab Sessions podcast episodes about building your team, creating a scene around your music, protecting your career, and more.