Build Your Tribe: Market vs Audience vs TRIBE

Are you spending more money making music than you make FROM music? Do you invest your heart, soul and hard-earned dollars just to watch it all slide down the drain?

You’re not alone. It’s the classic musician’s challenge.  We know how to make great music, but how do we make money from it once it’s made? There are lots of answers to this question, but today we’re going to focus on one: Build Your Tribe.  People talk all day about creating an audience.  About getting your stuff out there and pulling in new listeners. But if that audience doesn’t attend your shows, buy your merchandise & CD’s, or in other words, GIVE YOU MONEY for what you’ve created, you are no closer to a successful career.  What we are talking about is one step deeper. We talking about your TRIBE.  

Read more to find out what a tribe IS, why it’s important to build, and HOW to build one.

So what the heck is the difference between an audience and a tribe?  And how does that fit in with “the market” people are always yacking about?

In a nutshell:


The total number of people in your general area and within your genre that COULD be fans.


the total number of people that actually come into contact with your music. Whether it be at a concert, on Youtube or through a FB post, these folks have had a chance to interact with your music.


the total number of your invested fans. These are the people that sing your praises, forward your email, go to your gigs, and BUY your music. Did you see the key word there? These fans are INVESTED. They have made the effort to buy tickets. To buy your music. To subscribe to your email list. These are the people who make your career possible.

So let’s back up.  The goal is to start building your tribe, but the first step is to find them. That’s where your market and your audience come in.  Your market is pretty easy to identify.  Listen to the radio. Is that station playing your kind of music?  Then their listeners are your market.  Unfortunately, audience gets a little more difficult.  There are two things you need to do to find your audience:  Look at the fans you already have and look at the fans of groups or musicians like you.

  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What’s the Female : Male ratio?
  • What other types of music do they listen to?  
    • Genre
    • Specific Artists
  • What kind of clothes do they wear?
  • What non-music activities do they participate in?
  • What’s their ethnic breakdown?
  • What social media platform(s) do they use?
  • Where do they go to hear music?
  • What motivates them to buy music?
  • What motivates them to recommend music to a friend?

So Why is this information valuable?  Well – it’s important to clearly understand how you and your music inspire your audience – to understand how you ‘speak’ to them.  That’s going to determine the tone of your emails, newsletters, social media posts, etc.  Understanding these things helps you to motivate the portion of your audience who will be your tribe!

So – how the hell do you answer these questions about your audience without doing something as lame as a survey?  Well – it’s basically called a marketing funnel.    You’ll use consistent communication (and this funnel) to find and mobilize your tribe…

First up, let’s get the tools in place that you need to mobilize this army.

I mentioned consistent communication above.  In this day and age, consistent communication happens online. Yes, that means FB, Twitter, snapchat, but amazingly, the most powerful of these is still your website.  Social media is merely a tool to drive people to a clear call to action ON YOUR WEBSITE.  And what is that first, crucial call to action? “Give me your e-mail!”

Once you have that email you can begin the real conversation. In marketing terms, this is called transactional email.

I’ve done A LOT of research about how to  guarantee email delivery to large mailing lists and how to manage those lists.  You may not have a large list yet, but since that is the goal, start this right. I recommend that you create a free account at to manage your email list once you get it going, then use Amazon SES to do the actual ‘sending’ of your email.

Either way, do the following in this order:

  • Sign-up for’s free tier
  • Sign-up for Amazon SES
  • Update your website DNS to make Amazon an authoritative sender
  • Verify the email you want to send from with Amazon SES
  • Upload your existing opt-in email list into Mautic

That’s it!  We’re telling you how to run your e-mail list, but it’s going to be MORE than your e-mail list. For now, just do this!*Why Mautic? Until February 2016, MailChimp and Mandrill (same company) were considered decent transactional email services.  Mandrill basically shut down, drastically changed their pricing, and is honestly not the best option on the market these days.  I’ll let you do your own research – but I’d suggest starting with reading this article