We’re living in a bizarre time in music where it’s completely possible for an artist to be streamed thousands of times a day without having any true fans. Meaningful engagement between musicians and audiences has never been more important in the age of playlists and streaming, but it’s not always easy to tell when or how audiences are showing genuine enthusiasm about your music. Here are five signs that show that someone is becoming more than just a casual listener of your music.
When someone listens to more than your most popular songs
Streaming platforms make it easy for audiences to listen to your most popular songs and nothing else. This is why when audiences take the deep dive with your music and listen to all the songs on your albums and your lesser-known releases, it’s a clear sign that there’s meaningful engagement happening. We have to remember that there’s literally more music out there right now than a music fan could listen to in an entire lifetime, so it’s a big plus when a fan listens to all of your music and not just your most popular tracks.
Similar to the jaw-dropping amount of new music being added to streaming platforms each day, audiences are overwhelmed with musicians trying to sell them merch. So when fans take the time and money to support you by buying one of your shirts, vinyl records, or posters, it’s a sign they’re really into what you’re doing. With streaming platforms charging so little for fans to listen to as much music as they like, it’s meaningful when they use their money to buy merch. But it’s also important to remember that when fans buy merch, they’re connecting with physical representations of you and your music that they wouldn’t be able to find from simply streaming your songs. In today’s disconnected, screen-centric music culture, making physical connections with audiences are a big deal.
Song searches on apps
It might not seem like meaningful fan-to-artist engagement when listeners try to identify the songs they hear in public with apps, but I’d argue it is. The average person hears an incredible amount of music during their daily lives, and they’re not going out of their way to learn about each and every song they hear. When you know people are trying to identify your songs, it’s a signifier that there’s some meaningful momentum happening with your music. And with some of the analytical tools offered by streaming platforms to show trends associated with time and location with listener searches, artists are able to identify engagement with listeners on a broader scale. It’s a big endorsement when you know listeners are trying to find out more about your songs so they can listen to them again and again.
Audiences tuning into live-streams and showing up to concerts
Streaming counts can be a bit deceptive when it comes to trying to measure true engagement from fans. But the crowds that show up to see you perform in person or catch your live-streams is a completely different story. Fans showing support by making the effort to see your concerts is one of the clearest and important signs of audience engagement. There’s a huge difference between casually listening to a band and seeing them live, and with an endless array of entertainment options out there for listeners, it’s significant when they choose to spend their time watching you.
When your music becomes a regular part of someone’s life
There’s no bigger sign of meaningful audience engagement than when it’s clear your music has become a regular part of someone’s life. Whether you’re the soundtrack to someone’s breakup or are the artist behind their favorite song to dance to, it’s incredibly special when you know your music really means someone to a fan, even if it’s just one person. The bonds fans form with their favorite music can literally last a lifetime. So when someone sends you an email or comment telling you how much your music means to them, take it seriously and recognize that your work is truly making an impact on someone. This can happen whether you’re a big pop star or are releasing your first songs as an artist.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.