The Funnel Approach:

The Best Route to Building a Fanbase as a Music Creator Today

Being an artist/music creator in today's world means navigating a highly competitive industry with ever-changing trends and an overwhelming amount of marketing strategies. With so many options available, it's easy to get lost in the sea of advice and end up feeling like you're spinning your wheels without getting anywhere. This is what we spend our time helping artists with: frameworks you can use to market your releases in an organized & effective way. 

This leads us to SXSW 2023 - where we were lucky to be on a panel with some of the music industry's brightest minds discussing "How To Ethically Game a Music Release." Among the panelists was Beatdapp's Andrew Batey, a man who knows a thing or two about auditing streaming services and labels to detect streaming fraud. One of his main points was to warn artists to stay away from schemes that jeopardize their music getting taken down from streaming DSPs. From there, Danny (CEO of chimed in to answer the burning question on every artist's mind: 

What can you do to ethically game a release? 

The answer is the funnel approach. 

It’s a powerful framework designed to bring structure and organization to your marketing efforts and help you build a loyal fanbase.

What is the Funnel Approach?

This line of thinking comes from traditional and digital marketing, where the funnel approach is used regularly to build awareness from cold audiences, and eventually lead them into taking your desired action: 

We can then translate this into the world of Music Marketing, where this funnel can consist of three stages:

  1. Top of Funnel: streams and passive listening, such as playlists.
    (Metric to focus on = streams).
  2. Middle of Funnel: social media, livestreams and advertising, focusing on high intent listeners, and fan building.
    (Metric to focus on = saves & followers).
  3. Bottom of Funnel: extracting value from new fans through ticket sales, merch, and NFTs.
    (Metric to focus on = sales & revenue).

The best marketing plans have all three of these (particularly the Top of Funnel and Middle of Funnel) working in tandem to create a fanbase-building machine.  

Many music creators today have the Top of the Funnel figured out, and focus solely on building up streams. While this works to make the surface layer of your metrics look good, many times it leads artists down an unsustainable path when it comes to investing into marketing. We dove into the economics of acquiring fans in one of our previous blogs about Music Fanconomics. 

Case Study: How Renn Olympus used the funnel approach for “Bye Bye” 

Renn Olympus, an R&B/Pop artist from Portland, used SongTools to automate both the Top of Funnel and Middle of Funnel for her release "Bye Bye," with great success.

Now, let’s breakdown each stage of the funnel that Renn executed with this campaign: 

Top of Funnel: 

Renn is an avid Playlister.Club user, running many of her releases through the platform. Having a lot of releases previously run through the platform, many curators recognize her brand. “Bye Bye” is a downtempo R&B-Pop track that made it on +44 playlists with a total of +840K Followers reached. This led her monthly listeners grow +200% since the release on the platform. Playlists remain the best way to garner a lot of traffic to your release and profile, which Renn was able to do with the help of Playlister.Club. 

Middle of Funnel: 

Renn used a combination of SongFly ads and her engaged TikTok following (doing TikTok lives every night) to build out the Middle of the Funnel, with a real emphasis on engaging fans. As you can see from the screenshot above, she ran an ad of her performing the hook of the song, and targeted potential fans on Instagram. The beauty of SongFly is that it took her less than 8 minutes to create and launch this ad campaign, so she could spend her time focusing on going like on TikTok every night and engaging fans through different channels. The results of the SongFly campaign speak for themselves, doubling her save rate from 5% to +11%.

(Save Rate = number of times a song is saved by users to their Spotify library or playlists / the total number of listeners who have accessed the song. It’s an essential metric to gauge how well a song is being received by the people listening.)

Bottom of Funnel:

Renn set up her merch store and plugged it directly to her Spotify profile, to extract value from the marketing investments she was making. This is a critical piece to the entire campaign that many artists ask about. With streaming paying out so little, where is the opportunity to make money back? It lies in building out your Top of Funnel and Middle of Funnel effectively, so you can sell products once potential fans go through this acquisition cycle. Here, it’s beneficial to get creative, some ideas of what you can sell to fans:

  • Concert Tickets 
  • Merch (t-shirts, hats, posters) 
  • NFTs 
  • Meet and greet packages
  • Personalized recordings and dedications
  • Virtual concerts and livestream events
  • Songwriting workshops and lessons
  • Collaborative merchandise with other brands and artists
  • Limited edition vinyl and cassette releases

Renn is only at the beginning of her career, like many artists we work with, but is making strides in growing her presence and acquiring fans by implementing the funnel framework and using SongTools to automate her marketing. 

At SongTools, we've seen firsthand how effective this approach can be. Our platform makes it easy to automate the top and middle of the funnel, so you can focus on creating great music and engaging with your fans. And because our platform uses data to personalize your campaign, you can be sure that you're getting the best possible marketing campaign in the quickest time frame possible.

We hope the above case study helps show that by focusing on creating a top-of-funnel strategy that builds awareness and a middle-of-funnel strategy that engages fans and builds loyalty, you can create a powerful marketing machine that will help you turn listeners into fans and fans into lifelong supporters.


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