Editor's note: this article on Discord is an excerpt from our RootNote Blueprint No. 1. You can download the whole thing for free and dive in to more information on livestreaming, fan clubs, online merch, and more.
If you’re an online gamer, chances are you’ve at least heard of Discord. That’s because the platform first built traction in the gaming community. But it has since gone on to gain adoption from just about every application. Despite this, it doesn’t quite have the name brand recognition of competing apps like Slack. But when it comes to your music and band, creating your own Discord actually makes a ton of sense.
Founded in 2015, Discord might be one of the biggest apps you’ve never heard of. How big? Well nearly ONE BILLION messages are sent between users on Discord every day. The company has raised more than $200 million in investment funding and has more than 50 million monthly users.
Discord's core functions are free. That includes built-in video and audio chat options. You can also pay to “boost” your server or sign up for what they call Nitro for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, but paying for Discord is absolutely NOT necessary to see much of its benefits as a new way to communicate with fans.
How Do I Use Discord To Communicate With Fans
Discord calls your specific place for fan conversations a “server.” Within your server you have “channels,” which basically means you can create different channels for different conversations. If you only want to limit your fans sharing media in the general channel, you can create a separate channel where people are expected to upload things like show pictures and videos etc.
You can create channels that only you can post in for new music and other announcements.
You can also assign “roles” to users which allows you to give certain people access to certain channels. Patreon recently created a built-in feature that allows you to make a private channel for your fan club members. While these things are great for organization, they also add a certain “gamification” layer to your Discord.
Once your server grows, you can also make members of your team moderators in order to keep things in line. The best part about Discord is that it encourages your fans to talk amongst each other. While it’s always good practice to pop in and say hi and chat with people when you can, Discord is more about creating a community where your fans can become friends and share common interests. It’s good vibes, man.
You also have the ability to tag everybody so they get notifications (unless they have explicitly turned them off), meaning if you have 1,000 people in your Discord server with notifications on, you can post something and all 1,000 of them will see it.
To put that into perspective, you’ll never be able to GUARANTEE certain users see your social media posts, and you’d probably need anywhere from three to ten times the number of say, Instagram followers, to reach that same 1,000 people.
Discord is just a much better bet when it comes to reaching your fans where they are.
Will my fans even be on Discord?
Great question. This depends. The benefit of social media is that most people already know about it. Even with 50 million monthly users, Discord is peanuts compared to the user numbers of other apps.
BUT, it’s growing a lot. The process to joining Discord is super easy. And if you’re already spending time in virtual communities like Twitch or Patreon, the odds of these folks joining your server is way higher.
There’s no doubt about it — you will be in the super minority of artists using Discord for fans if you start right now. But that’s why it’s so cool. People are jazzed about Discord and users are generally really happy with the experience. Being an early adopter for fan communication as a musician will pay off when more and more artists and fans come to the platform.