Matt Sullivan - Building Your Fan Base Online

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Truth is Matt Sullivan is my son-in-law and my “go to guy” for all things web. I know, I know, nepotism. Helped design my site and works at Moontoast, a cutting edge company based in Nashville & Boston. But…. how to put yourself out there  on the internet comes up with most every artist I work with and I can’t think of anyone better positioned  to explain the value than Matt. As for the quote…too good to pass up:-)!!


Moontoasts Matt Sullivan

Moontoasts Matt Sullivan

To borrow a quote from Mark Twain,

The reports of the music industry’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Ok, not verbatim, but I believe this to be an accurate quote for the music industry today. While the last 10+ years have been tough for music as a whole, the opportunities for a relatively unknown artist to build a growing, loyal fan base are essentially limitless today. What makes this possible? The same thing that has supposedly “killed” the industry: the Internet.

I will absolutely agree that the Internet has changed the game. Everyone has had to rethink the way they work; from songwriters, musicians, and publishers, to producers and labels. The good news, though, is that if you’re willing to put in the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears, you can use the web to build your fan base from the ground up.

No more “gatekeepers”.

Of course, this means the the onus is on you to make it happen. How do you go about it? What are some things you can do to help make that possible? Here’s a quick list of some tools you can employ to help build your fan base online.

Get a Website

First and foremost, you need to have your own website. The importance of this can not be understated. Your identity online begins and ends here. It’s the one place you have complete control over the look, feel, and content. While its imperative to have a social networking footprint as well, Facebook and Twitter may not even exist in 10 years, and you should have a concrete place where your content resides. Remember when brands marketed themselves solely through AOL Keywords?

Your website is where you should spend the most energy. Everything you distribute across the Internet should tie back to it. Find a good web designer that can work within your budget, give you control over updating the site, and is accessible after the initial work is through. Ask around locally, get referrals, and do your research before choosing.

Get Social

The buzzwords the last few years have been “social networking” and “social media marketing.” To simplify it, think of social media in two ways: a way to communicate with fans (building loyalty) and a way to take your art where your fans gather (commerce). Create a Facebook Fan Page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, aYouTube account, and any other social networking accounts that you feel will help you better engage with your fans.

Our startup, Moontoast, helps monetize these social interactions with tools like Moontoast Impulse, a storefront for your Facebook Fan Page. With Impulse, you can sell your music and merchandise directly on Facebook. Your fans can share individual tracks to their own wall where their friends can play songs and make purchases without ever leaving Facebook.

Distribute Your Music

To bypass the “gatekeepers” you need to get your music in front of as many people as possible. You need to convert as many of those to fans as you possibly can. Be creative! A personal example of this:

I love listening to The vast majority of the songs are independent, uploaded by the musicians themselves. One day I was listening to a song by Luke Leighfield and shared it to my Twitter account saying,”Like a mix between Ben Folds and something I can’t place my finger on. By My Side – Luke Leighfield.”

A short time later I get a reply from Luke himself on Twitter: “Is the other bit Toto? Thanks Matt!”

I became an instant fan. Nothing crazy or fancy or expensive, just a simple reply to my random question.


Don’t be afraid about doing it the “right” way. There really is no right way, and the Internet moves so quickly that what you’re doing today will be completely different a year from now. Just have fun with it and keep it interesting.

Good luck!