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Building a Fanbase for the Residencies of the Future

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Photo Credit: Aditya Chinchure

Dan Runcie

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This week’s Trapital essay is brought to you by DICE.

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the residencies of the future

by Denisha Kuhlor

Usher’s Las Vegas residency has continued to be top of mind these last few months. Whether he is serenading Issa Rae, being featured in the videos of content creators, or giving Chris Brown his flowers, fans far and wide have trekked to Vegas to see the Atlanta superstar.

Residencies in Vegas are nothing new. However, based on the demands for consumer attention, it has become significantly harder for an artist to embark on a residency. The dominant artists all have dedicated fanbases and strong catalogs that they’ve been building for years (e.g. Adele and Bruno Mars).

And although more artists have prioritized festivals, one-off performances, singles with short shelf lives, and inconsistent album rollouts, for those who eventually may want to do a residency it may be worth it to incorporate that desire into their strategy from the beginning.

the elasticity of music

Many fans on Twitter were shocked at a recent clip of Steve Lacy performing where fans stopped singing after he performed the viral TikTok part of his song “Bad Habit.” While spectators were shocked to see the real-world implications of consuming music in digestible snippets, it’s a serious reality that artists face today when building and growing a music catalog. While virality can be a robust tool for discovery, it also can have adverse ancillary effects: Consumers often end up only liking a small snippet of a song instead of the entire track or the artist who recorded it.

The continued loyalty between platforms and users (TikTok, Twitter, Instagram) make it difficult for artists to garner the attention share that they need with potential fans to expose them or encourage them to spend more time listening to their music. Unfortunately, many artists have found that great TikTok virality doesn’t always translate to album sales. For modern artists exposing their music to a new audience, it is imperative that they find creative ways for fans to discover their music beyond a snippet.

winning back the race for consumer experiences

After two years of staying home due to the pandemic, many fans are eager to see their favorite artists both emerging and established. Numerous festivals have surfaced that allow fans to see their favorite artist while also getting to travel and explore a new city. Popular rap festival Rolling Loud has even created Loud Club, for fans seeking a premium experience, which is largely associated with the brand of the festival or festival promoter versus the artist itself. As a result, many artists who are heavily focused on club appearances are also forfeiting critical knowledge about crafting a tour from inception to end and getting to think out of the box when it comes to the innovative fan experience.

Recently, a Beyonce fan tweeted that she hoped her friends were saving at least $1,000 for the Renaissance world tour. They described the concert as one part of a larger experience and this provides great insights for artists looking to customize the fan experience. If done correctly, all the great things associated with the experience (dinner, photography, drinks) will be associated as part of a favorable time seeing the artist.

For this reason, artists should prioritize a hybrid strategy so that they can begin to iterate on which types of experience make the most sense for their fans.

what do residencies of the future look like?

Reflecting on the past begs the question: How can residencies be most valuable in the future? As globalization helps make people feel more connected, the intrinsic pull of Vegas reduces. In the future, I believe that artist residencies will be more similar to DJ residencies where artists choose a few key cities (in different countries) and play multiple shows there each year (e.g. spending a different quarter in a different city).

The benefits of a residency for an artist cannot be understated — less travel costs and logistics, better quality assurance as a result of venue familiarity, and the ability to build out more intricate sets. Additionally, I can see an artist having a club or hospitality partner to help curate an end-to-end fan experience, especially for fans visiting from out of town. While an experience like this would be more intricate for an artist to plan, it would yield greater fan loyalty and potentially even greater revenue as they would be able to take a cut on the total experience.

Denisha Kuhlor is the founder of Stan, where artists learn how to find, grow, and engage a global fanbase.
Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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