Fans are my life’s blood.
Newsflash: It’s not about you!
Without your fans, you are NOTHING. They truly are your life’s blood, and this has never been more evident than in today’s “direct to fan” market. But how can you persuade potential fans that you’re worth following?
Start with great music. Your music is the foundation on which anything and everything in and around your career is built. If your music is just good, or run of the mill, your fan retention will be minimal. Focus on writing, recording, distributing, and performing the best material you can – every time.
However, being great within itself is no longer good enough. Fans now want to be part of a community. They enjoy interacting with each other, and seek to develop a personal connection with the artist. Keep your fans engaged and make them feel a part of the creative process. This gives them a vested interest in your business.
Here are some ideas that may help you build upon your foundation, therefore, increasing your chances of creating raving fans:
JUST BE YOURSELF. People don’t like fake personalities. Many will sense it right away, others may take longer, but eventually, you will get busted. Be real, honest, likable, professional, but not business all the time (you’re allowed to have fun), and your fans will respect you.
Be more focused on what you give than what you receive. Whenever you initiate any type of interaction, start with the intention to give more value than you receive. The simplest way to do this is to create and share interesting and valuable content.
Here are some ways to do that:
Blogs – Do you enjoy writing? Are you good at it? Blog posts may be perfect for you.
Videos – Are you a camera ham? Create and distribute video content for your fans.
Podcasts – Maybe you’re a talker. A weekly podcast show may be your thing.
Social Networking – Every fan and their mother has a Facebook or Twitter, right? Then that’s where you need to be. Note that this really should be used with one or more of the other methods.
Mailing Lists – Easily configured and customized to deliver personal and/or exclusive content. It’s also still proven to be the best form of contact that produces the highest sales conversion rate.
Whatever you decide works best for you, make a content creation schedule and stick with it. This will show you’re reliable and dedicated. Focus on building real relationships with real people, and keep it simple. Don’t get overly wordy, or too detailed. In fact, more often than not, the shorter the better. Get right to the point, but leave them wanting more.
You really need to get over the idea that everyone has to like you. Spreading yourself too thin may serve to water down your message, inevitably causing you to lose fans faster than you gain them.
Remember the whole “target only potential fans within your genre or particular niche” thing? If you can’t clearly define that your business, brand, and personality are one thing, how can you expect the potential fan to know who you are? Stay true to your own voice, keep it real, take good care of your people, and you just may develop fans for life.
Even in the digital age, word of mouth marketing reigns supreme. When people like what they see (or hear), they’re going to share it. Make sure your content is shareable.
Every 21st Century website should have share capabilities in place. AddThis, ShareThis, a Facebook “Like” button, a Tweet button, Google +1, etc., are all examples of this. Even the methods mentioned in the “Give” section provide a way for your content to be shared.
QR codes are another great way for fans to market your music and merch. They truly bridge the gap between online and real world sales and marketing. Place them on CDs, business cards, posters, photos, attach to a shirt, even YouTube videos, and any potential fan with a smart phone has access to your music, merch or exclusive sales/giveaways.
Don’t forget your call to action. Never assume a fan knows they should be sharing your stuff. Let them know that they have your permission to spread the word. In fact, you may consider offering incentives for doing so. Consider a service such as Tweet For A Track to get your fans involved in spreading the word.
Chris “Seth” Jackson adds:
“Don’t overload your fans with too many options. All you need is just one simple call to action like ‘Share this on your Facebook wall, and we’ll give you a free CD at the show. And that’s it, just simple and brain dead.”
Treat every fan like a VIP. Now, not every fan will be a VIP, as you will run into some “gimme sumthin 4 nuthin” types. But do your best to let your fans know that they are the sole reason for your existence. Communicate with them, find out what they want, answer emails, blog comments, do your best to develop a personal relationship.
Furthermore, it’s important to make sure your team members (management, road crew, merch girl, etc.) are on board, and treat every interaction like it counts.
Many 21st Century fans may not want to pay for the music itself, but they do want to support the artist. Remember, don’t focus on selling a product or service, but on providing a solution. Show them you genuinely care, and they will follow you anywhere. Provide them with the complete VIP package, and they will give you their money.
Erik Peterson adds
“Artists shouldn’t focus on money. Focus on fans (no matter how big or small that group may be) and the money will come. That’s not to say that artists can’t earn money from their music/merch/shows, but the focus should be on fans first.”
My own philosophy is:
“Interactions, not transactions, baby.”