We started talking about Discord for artists a long time ago. Like, years ago. And if you've been following along, you might remember our suggestion to start one up for your band!
If not, it's cool. Here's a pretty short summary: you should start a Discord for your band. Or whatever it is you make, at this point.
But while when we first wrote about the platform two years ago it was still in the nascent stages for music communities, it looks like some of the biggest artists in the world (and their labels) have since embraced the platform. Harry Styles launched a server called "Harry's House" in conjunction with his new album that quickly amassed thousands of followers. Outlets like Pitchfork are doing long-form articles on Discord and dubbing it "the future of music fandom" (but when has Pitchfork ever been hyperbolic?).
Does that mean it's suddenly going to start to suck? Hardly. But there are some key things you should know about using Discord to cultivate your fan base moving forward.
The Most Important Thing About Discord
The most important thing about Discord is that it's not like everything else you might be doing for your content career. In fact, while most platforms are designed to help you amass a following via publicly available profiles, Discord is more like a bottom-of-the-funnel gathering place for your biggest fans.
You can't really easily find Discord servers without starting to search for them. It's not like hopping on TikTok or Instagram and working your way through different profiles the app suggests for you. You have to "join" servers and get acquainted, usually opting in to the various rules created by whoever runs the server.
In fact, a lot of artists and personalities are actually using Discord to weed out the casual peruser. Artists like Weird Al and industry veterans like Troy Carter are using private Discord servers as an engagement incentive. Nobody is really that focused on Discord server numbers right now because it's more about quality than quantity.
It is, above all, meant to foster community among people who already like you. Discord should be a gathering place of people who have at least one thing in common: they're fans of whatever Discord they're in.
Discord Is An Opportunity To Network
There's an angle to Discord a lot of people haven't started talking about, yet, too: it's actually a great place to network. There are elements of LinkedIn inherently tied in to Discord.
Now that's not to say you should immediately hop into other artists' servers and try to promote yourself. That strategy has literally never been cool, no matter the medium.
But creators are usually a lot more active in their servers because they're already gated. It's easier to talk to other creators, their moderators, and like-minded individuals because there's still an air of "we're more serious about this here" on Discord.
Some bigger artists have even used their own servers as a way to source talent. Like T-Pain, who ran an entire music competition to sign an artist to his label through his Discord server and Twitch streams.
Discord is also a place to find serious fans who may actually become interns or employees in the future. Anybody who streams on Twitch and has mods knows there are lots of talented people who are willing to spend time and effort assisting with managing their favorite creators' communities. It's a way to give back to and help promote somebody they love while also getting closer to those creators (in a safe way).
And most people who stream know collaboration and communication between creators is happening more and more on Discord DMs and less on social platforms.
So while the spirit of Discord is still very much celebrating community, there is also a great opportunity to expand your professional horizons. Plenty of servers solicit music submissions. Others encourage collaboration. Having a presence on Discord doesn't just mean you're trying to get people to care about content you create. It means you're there to care about what others are doing, too.
The Best Time To Start Was Yesterday. The Next Best Time Is Right Now
It's a common refrain, but it's true. The next best time to start doing something you should've been doing before is right now. Discord continues to grow in popularity and there's an ever-increasing chance your fans are on it.
But even they're not, your potential fans still could be. You don't have to create your own server to get started. Just create an account that represents you as an artist or creator and explore a couple servers of artists or topics you may enjoy.
Once you've spent enough time understanding how Discord works, you may be ready to create your own. And there's a good chance you will have already made friends who are excited to jump into yours and help it grow.