From Streaming to Stanning: Artist Community Building in a Peak-Streaming Era

Stans don’t manifest out of nowhere, so how can artists take fans on that journey from discovery through to standom?
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From Streaming to Stanning: Artist Community Building in a Peak-Streaming Era

When that £10.99 subscription email from Spotify hit my inbox, I was a little bit fuming. Until I realised that I’m paying 11 quid a month for almost all the music that has ever and will ever exist… and I piped down immediately.

It’s important to remember how spoiled listeners are when it comes to streaming platforms. For the last 14 years, since 2009, we’ve paid a fee of £9.99 and have had unlimited access to the artists we love. Plus we’ve seen Spotify bring us plenty of additional features to enrich and enhance our listening experience. Accounting for inflation, 2009’s £9.99 is worth more than £15 today, so the increase to £10.99 a month is still an incredible deal for the everyday listener. But what does it mean for those artists we claim to love so much?

Spotify told subscribers that the rise in the subscription fee was to further “keep innovating in changing market conditions… and continue delivering value to fans”, but failed to mention any benefit or additional value for recording artists and songwriters. Though some execs say it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to increasing royalties for artists, it’s still a marginal change when you account for how many pieces that additional £1 has to be cut into. When it comes to any streaming service, whether it’s Spotify, Twitch, OnlyFans or Netflix, it’s the creators that provide content. Platforms need creators to survive. Without their content, these streaming services would not exist - yet most content creators are getting short-changed. After Spotify for example takes its cut, the average artist gets £0.004 per stream. That’s £4 for every 1,000 streams. £4,000 for each million streams.

So when I think I’m being a ride or die Mahalia fan by streaming her new album ‘IRL’ everyday on my commute, she might not be benefiting as much as I like to think. What she needs is superfans that are going to go above and beyond streaming, to invest time and money in her brand and her craft.

A Mahalia stan is a Mahalia evangelist. Stans help Mahalia scale her fan base so her revenue pie gets bigger. They engage with her content across platforms and create their own content inciting everyone to STREAM IRL NOW!!! They’re also the fans that buy physical and digital copies of her album, buy tickets to her shows and tap their cards for all her merch - and then create content about all of this on their socials, reaching more Mahalia fans that might just hop into that fan to stan pipeline.

But stans don’t manifest out of nowhere, so how can artists take fans on that journey from discovery through to standom? It’s all about creating thoughtful touchpoints on that journey for fans to interact with their craft and their brand.


When it comes to finding new fans, TikTok carries huge potential, making owned and creator strategies a vital part of any artist's fan ecosystem.

But there’s a big challenge in getting a TikTok user to actually engage with the artist beyond that 15 second TikTok trend. We’re now seeing artists starting to TikTokify their release strategies to supercharge that discoverability and get users from a short-form video to streaming the full track on Digital Streaming Platforms (DSPs) in very clever ways.

Two artists who have seen huge success with TikTok, Ice Spice and Raye, both dropped viral singles (Ice Spice’s ‘Princess Diana ft. Nicki Minaj’, and Raye’s ‘Escapism’) with sped up versions on DSPs. They recognised that sped up songs on TikTok are immensely popular, and this often means artists miss out on crucial streaming potential, as the audience’s love for the viral sped up version doesn’t translate to the slower original that lives on DSPs. By dropping TikTokified versions of their songs alongside the original, they’re able to create a more seamless journey from discovery on TikTok to an artist page on a streaming platform, where that relationship can then be deepened.


Having many singular fans as an artist is great. But having fan communities is greater. The most enduring, united communities are built around values and vibes. In an extremely saturated artist landscape, the smartest artists will cultivate a presence on and offline that fosters artist-fan relationships and invites earned media to create a movement, not just a moment.

There’s a million different ways to build and strengthen relationships with fans through giving your audience a higher level of content and access, whether it’s letting fans come behind the scenes like @thatsdax, or creating cultural platforms around your brand like Dua Lipa has done with Service 95. And although the days of desperately trying to start trends are way past us, when done right, trends are an incredible tool, as shown by @flyanaboss’s fish eyed sprint through different locations - a distinctive but easily replicable creative device that disrupts and incites fans to participate, adding their own takes and amplifying their work through iteration. 

Creators are another important tool in the community building toolkit, and as lines blur across demographics, cultures and interests, there’s more scope than ever for artists to leverage creators to scale within existing subcommunities, like how @d4vdd gained popularity by using his own tracks on his Fortnite montages back when he was a popular gaming creator on YouTube.

These subcultural extensions also work in the real world, with collaborations, partnerships and artist-brand relationships all serving to cross-pollinate communities and drive growth through association. 


You can’t talk about fanatical standoms without talking about the likes of the Swifties, Stylers, Beyhive or Army, to name a few. These widespread, borderless fandoms are connected to their artists on multiple levels that layer up to create a powerful ecosystem.

First, these artists build worlds that are highly distinctive. From the music they make to the content they create and the partnerships they forge, everything is considered around creating a deep lore around that artist. But these superbrand-esque artists have to make sure to leave enough space for fans to see themselves in their worlds and transport themselves there, so much so that being a fan actually becomes an integral part of their identity and story. 

That’s when superfan culture starts to kick in, where fans begin to express themselves and connect with others through the lens of their fandom. The creation of fan fiction and fan art should be encouraged, not squashed, and closed community spaces like Discord Servers and Facebook Groups should be moderated with a level of acceptance of the many different ways people choose to express their superfan spirit. As long as everyone is safe and respectful, artists and their teams need to give the fans space to dream, connect and create.


We know strong and loyal fan communities drive bottom-line impact for artists, venues and even entire cities. In fact, spending by Beyoncé fans actually impacted inflation in Sweden and the UK during her Renaissance tour, and Swift’s Era’s Tour had a global impact of $5 billion, with estimated net new spending of $92 million in Cincinnati during her two day stop. The beauty of building genuine fan communities is that artists really can reap what they sow, as can the venues and partners they work with. Keep fans fed and watered with content and spaces for them to express themselves, and they’ll return the favour tenfold.

On the flip side, taking your community for granted or distancing yourself from your fans (though tempting to do for many artists that may be on the receiving end of toxic fan culture) is a sure fire way to see your brand plummet. Doja Cat’s latest outbursts calling her fans “creepy” and telling them to “get a job”, has seen her lose over half a million followers on Instagram, and we’ve yet to discover the impact that this could have on her as an artist. 

But aside from the value that big fan bases and follower counts can bring, a community-first approach can deliver value even for smaller, emerging artists. That casual TikTok you made might spark a comment section that’s brimming with insight, or that Discord Server you created might have some mind blowing ideas in it that can then be incorporated into the marketing approach for your album release or for selling those tickets to your first European tour. 

In a world where transactional relationships can be spotted a mile off, keeping your fans close with an always-on community and content strategy should be a top priority, because when you need them most, you know they’ll hold it down.