Unveiling the Fan Journey From Discovery to Advocacy

Discover the key stages, real-life examples, and essential tips for artists to navigate the fan journey from discovery to advocacy.

Unveiling the Fan Journey From Discovery to Advocacy
Jubran Haddad
Jubran Haddad
June 13, 20238 min read
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If you stumble upon a captivating track on a playlist, you might want to dive deeper into the artist's work. You might listen to their catalog, read their media coverage, and snoop through their Instagram to catch a glimpse of their character. If you find something you like, you might pre-save their upcoming releases and even tell your friends about the artist. At that point, you are a fan in the making, but you are probably still a long way from buying top-priced tickets to the artist's live show.

Fans go through a long journey from discovering an artist to becoming passionate supporters–and might fall out at any point along the way. This article will delve into the stages of the fan journey, providing real-life examples and valuable tips to help artists strengthen their connection with their fans.

The Fan Journey Model

Extracted from the classic marketing framework of the consumer journey, "The Fan Journey Model" outlines how people become more engaged with your artistry over time. Becoming a fan involves a five-stage journey that starts with Discovery and progresses through Exploration, Retention, Purchase, and Advocacy. Each stage is measurable using metrics that help you achieve your goals and gain insight into how your fans feel about your work.

When fans download music and purchase merchandise, they move from followers to active buyers. The interconnection between the stages reflects the real-life dynamic nature of the fan, where they seamlessly navigate back and forth between different stages and actions.

The traditional fan journey model in the music industry typically places Purchase ahead of Retention. However, as the industry adjusts to the digital age and streaming services reshape how we discover and generate revenue from music, it becomes necessary to reevaluate "The Fan Journey Model." Retention must precede the purchase because the more engaged a fan is, the more willing they will be to purchase.


This stage refers to when individuals become aware of an artist for the first time. People can stumble upon your music through playlists, social media, word of mouth, or other means. Given that listeners lack direct control over editorial playlists like New Music Friday or elevator music, this process occurs passively, without the intentional effort of fans. At the end of this stage, individuals will have progressed from discoverers to listeners that know at least one of your tracks.

Getting accurate measurements for awareness can be challenging due to its organic nature and the lack of attribution in music promotion. Here's an example of how to estimate discoveries using Spotify monthly listeners. This artist released a track on March 11 with only 27 monthly listeners. On March 15 and on March 21, the track was added to two editorial playlists. Twenty-eight days later, it had 6.6K streams, and the artist's monthly listeners skyrocketed to 3.7K, suggesting that the track gained attention and reached a larger audience.

We can estimate that there were 3718 discoveries following the track's addition to the editorial playlists. While it is possible that the majority of the increase in monthly listeners can be attributed to editorial placements, other factors may be at play, such as word-of-mouth recommendations. Additionally, some monthly listeners may have existed before the track's release but were not actively engaging with the artist until the new release or the playlist placements.

Tip for Discovery - Build online traction first: Establishing online traction and generating anticipation before releasing your music can significantly contribute to the process of Discovery, particularly when it comes to your first release. When pitching to playlist curators, mentioning your online traction can help you get placed, as the editorial process is becoming more based on the artist’s streaming history and online presence.

Creating online buzz might appear to happen overnight, but it takes considerable time, planning, and consistency. Here’s an example of how Saint Levant built a social presence as a content creator before transitioning to music.


After you catch listeners' attention, they will be interested to learn more about you and explore your artistry. This can involve delving into your catalog or checking out your social media. At this stage, people have transitioned from being listeners to explorers; they know more or less your story, sound, persona, and aesthetics.

There's no way to know what each fan thinks of you. Still, engagement metrics such as Chartmetric Engagement Rank, Spotify monthly listeners, Spotify Fan Conversion Rate, YouTube Channel Views, and TikTok Likes can indicate an interest in your artistry.

Following her second performance at this year's Coachella, Palestinian-Chilean artist Elyanna experienced a boost in her social media and streaming numbers. Her groundbreaking Arabic-language set sparked people’s curiosity and increased cross-platform engagement, including a surge in Wikipedia views. For many, this discovery served as an invitation to explore further into her music.