When you are an original fan of a band that makes it big, it’s an awesome bragging right. You’ll always be able to say- “I was a fan of so-and-so before their hit song.” Unless you feel like the band has sold out, you also are likely to be fiercely loyal since you knew them from the beginning.
Generally, bands grow their fan base slowly. They start out locally, playing at small bars and work their way into more venues and gaining fans along the way if they're good. This organic growth is generally how bands had to do it if they didn’t have an investor that is going to fund a professional recording/tour/etc. or if they didn't have an agent that will connect them with a label, at least pre-internet. It can take a lot of time, work and sacrifice before a band will hit it big. Though it can take a while, there are real benefits to this type of growth.
Bands who do this gain genuine followers organically. They grow slowly and are able to tighten their set lists with each new show. They experiment, grow and become better while they gain fans in the process. Instead of sinking everything they have into one professional CD from the start, they likely benefit from refining their craft before they have the money to record. So that when they do, it is excellent.
Also, those first fans are invaluable. You can’t buy that stuff with marketing. Someone who has been there with you from the beginning, watched you grow and felt like they had a part in it because they supported you are the best kind of fans.
I’ve watched Boulted Bread grow slowly this past year. They could have got a brick-and-mortar, hung out a shingle and done just fine. But I first heard of them because they were taking orders for bread that you could come pick up. They didn’t have a storefront open yet. I thought their patient, persistent mindset to grow slowly and not incur significant debt was wise and admirable. I loved their initial concept. And so I have tracked them since. I feel much more attached to them because I watched them grow from the beginning. There are several other new bakeries/restaurants that I feel no allegiance to, because they’ve just launched. Full-on, with the money from the beginning. Which is fine.
But there is value in letting someone watch you grow and be with you from the beginning. Don’t feel stressed if you don’t have a lot of money to launch in the way you want to. Use what you have today to grow slowly. Be thankful for the limited resources - because they will cause you to grow organically, be able to experiment with lower risk, gain genuine, long-term relationships and be creative in ways that you wouldn’t need to otherwise.