How do you measure who your real fans are? Is it the number of people who "like" you on Facebook? Do you collect "followers" on Twitter or Instagram? What does it actually mean to have a fan?
True fans are those who love your music so much that they want to share it with the world. They are the ones who have heard your music and chose to continue listening. They did not mindlessly press a "like" or "follow" button and move on with their lives.
The problems around collecting "fake" fans
Artists focus too much on the number of "likes" they have on Facebook, "follows" on Twitter, or "Play Counts" on SoundCloud and YouTube because of the perception that that these metrics are important to the industry. Although the industry does take a look at these numbers, what does it actaully mean to have the numbers over "real" fans? For starters, you can essentially buy these numbers. Traditional digital advertising allows you to introduce display ads to people. It can cost from $1 to $2 just to get a like, follow, or engagement from someone who may have mindlessly pressed a "like" button without even hearing your music. This is not a real fan.
Additionally, we've all seen those ridiculous promotions from people who promise to get you a certain amount of likes, follows, and plays for a hefty fee. Most of these services are are scams who most likely don't even get real people to hear your music, but programatically get plays for you. Their target market are those artists who care more about the numbers than building real fans. There are no shortcuts to getting real fans. They can not be bought.
How to build real fans and achieve fan loyalty
It may seem obvious, but the best way to attract real fans is to get them to hear your music. Using your music as its own advertisement will attract fans to you based on them actually liking your music. By using your music to attract fans, you can be assured that the people who "like" and "follow" you resulted from them actaully hearing your music. These are the people who will share your music with their friends and family. The top ways that people hear music are from the radio, where streaming radio is now more popular than terrestrial radio, and from family and friends.
To really retain fan loyalty to have fans knocking down the doors to hear you, you can take it even one step further. Once you have a solid fan base, focus on rewarding your biggest fans rather than promoting to new ones. If you show your biggest fans the most loyalty, then they will do the promotion for you and attract others to join in. Gaining fans is about attracting rather than promotion.
There are no shortcuts to building your fan base and real fans can not be bought.
Rewritten from lost post