Recently I've been doing a bit of work with a couple of bands focused around their release plan and marketing strategy. As part of this we discussed really getting to know who the bands audience really are. It's something that often isn't discussed and different band members can have different thoughts on this so it's useful to have everyone on the same page.
If you're an artist on a record label they're going to have done some research on your fanbase (albeit in a probably more sophisticated way!) to help decide on merch designs, advertising spend, places to play on tour etc. They aren't going to do stuff and just hope it works, they want to get the maximum return for their investment. This is is exactly how you should be thinking - be your own record label!
An easy way to do this is to get each band member (or some close friends if you're a solo artist) so sit down separately and complete a "Fan Avatar". This is basically going to paint a picture of your average fan. Their age, likes, dislikes, habits etc. There is no one-size fits all for this. Every band/artists fanbase will be different and these things aren't hard and fast rules - there are always going to be outliers. However, a simple exercise such as creating your fan avatar can help focus your efforts as well as possibly spark some ideas you might not have otherwise thought of.
The key here is to try and narrow things down as much as possible. It's not good having 20 different answers for 1 topic, you want the most common, probable answer (for those of you who may be familiar with statistics, think of a bell curve distribution). You want to narrow things down to the 1 - 3 most likely responses. Once you've all done this, come together, go through each persons responses and summarise the most popular answers to create your average fan.
Some of the topics may seem unimportant but they all really help paint a good overall picture of your fanbase. Based on the outcome of your fan avatar, you can then decide on areas of focus for your upcoming release campaigns. Below is a list of questions you could ask yourself to create your avatar. I've also summarised this in this google sheet if you want to create your own. Remember to click "File" and "Make a Copy" in your own google drive account in order to edit this.
Work Status (uneployed, part time, full time)
Fears / Life Challenges
Favourite Music Artists (3 max)
How do they find new music?
How do they search for music online?
Where do they listen to music? (What medium)
How do they spend their free time?
Where do they hang out?
What websites do they visit?
Favourite social media platform?
Where do they spend their money?
Where do they shop for clothes?
You could then go further and compare this with any analytics you might have on your social media pages to see how your answers compare. Moving things forward here are some examples of where this information can be helpful for you:
Social Media - Understanding where your fans spend their time on social media can stop you wasting precious time where no-one is going to interact with you. Millenials are more likely to spend time on Facebook than Tik Tok and vice versa if they're from Gen Z. Spending time creating content for a platform no-one is looking at isn't going to help you much.
Merch - Remember, you're designing merch that your fans will buy and so this might not necessarily be the same as your tastes. If you know that most of your fans shop at a particular place for clothes then you can take a look at their best selling items and see if you can adapt it for your merch designs. If you have limited money to spend on merch designs, looking at the gender and age demographics and style of clothing that they wear can help narrow down what might sell better.
Sales Promotions - Maybe most of your fans are university students, well as those of us who were/are students know, the best time for a student to spend money is when your student loan comes in! So run a merch campaign around these times. Maybe they have jobs but are more likely to spend money around pay day - run a merch campaign each month when most people are getting paid.
Favourite Artists - As well as your band, look at other artists your fans like. What kind of content are the posting on social media, what kind of merch are they selling etc. What works for them is probably going to work for you as well so use this to get some inspiration for your own ideas.
Education Level - Most of your fans are currently uni students? Why not plan your next tour around some popular university towns/cities or try and play at their student units.
There are lots of ways in which you can use this information. This exercise is designed to get you thinking and definitely a useful one to undertake as a band which could really help you with a marketing plan going forwards.