Thursday, March 11, 2010

How To Gain 200 Fans A Week

I recently clipped an article by Brian Mazzaferri of the band I Fight Dragons that discusses how the band gained 200 new fans a week. Unfortunately, the link to the full article is now dead, but I did manage to save some of the more valid points. Here they are with my comments following.

1. Give your music away, but don’t throw it away.
We’ve given away a free digital copy of our debut EP to everyone who signs up for our email list.  For people who don’t know us, it’s a free and easy way to learn about our music for free.  And then we’ve got their ear.  Note, this is VERY different to just posting it online for free download.  The price may seem the same, but the result is 100% different, because we now have a foot in the proverbial door.
They're following one of the golden rules of the Internet - you've got to give something to get something. In this case, what they really doing is harvesting email addresses, which is vital to their strategy of getting new fans. Even if the track that was downloaded doesn't interest the potential fan, they have a chance to grab them at least one more time because they have the email address.

2. Regularly give away stuff that’s way too good to give away.
Next, we send an email to our list every Monday at 11AM (for the most part).  More weeks than not, that email contains free music.  And not just some off-the-cuff track, it’s a track that is up to our personal standards, which I’d like to think are very high.  In holding ourselves to that standard, we give our fans something new that they really want to show their friends.  And when the next new track goes out, the new converts get to become the evangelists.  But they need new music to do that, and not just any new music, YOUR BEST new music.
Of course, giving something really good away to get a customer has been a sales strategy probably since the beginning of sales, but many artists see their music as so valuable that they're afraid to let it go. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, the fan will decide, but the fact that they're willing to part with what they consider their best to convert fans means that many of those fans will become purchasers at some time down the road.
The other thing important here is that staying in touch via a newsletter is a vital communication link with the fan. It's inexpensive, the fan feels good about receiving it (most times), and it's a controlled message. This is the reason why you want to harvest all those friend and follower addresses from social networks.

3. Be real, be available, and be involved.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it actually takes a LOT of work.  We’re on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, our Blog, and TheSixtyOne every day, talking with people and being involved in conversations.  I’m NOT talking about one-way, blast-yourself-out-there stuff like MySpace adding.  I’m talking about joining in conversations on Twitter that you have something to add to.  About commenting earnestly on music you like.  About joining a community, not trumpeting your own message.
Yes, it sure does take a lot of work, and that's why you must have a strategy in order to take full advantage of social media in an efficient way. It's too easy to spend all of your time communicating, then be so burned out that there's no longer time for the main event - the music. We'll cover social media management strategies in a future post.


Ninetwelve said...

They make a point that my label drilled in my head so hard that I've become a lone man on a mountain screaming it to my friends that are in bands.

"Mix your music."

The phrase "Demo" is tossed around a lot and has sort of become code for, "Not a great song yet."

The label did an experiment for me once to prove how important a well mixed track is. I sent my producer a demo of a new song for the album. He played the noisey, clipping, off time demo for his close (non musician) friend who claimed it was a terrible song. After a week of mixing he played it again and the friend had no idea they were the same track, and actually enjoyed it!

The point is that your average listener can't 'imagine' what a song will be and will take a track at face value. Demos are great 'bonus' material to release after people really dig your hit. To know where it came from is something a die hard fan will crave- but don't release demos first unless they are near-finished and mixed. And even tho you may shoot yourself in the foot!

A lot of bands can't mix- we spent our lives learning music not engineering! Even if you have to (*gasp*) actually shell out cash for a good mix- the money is worth it a 100 times over as your fans will simply not react as well to a muddy demo as a shiny finished track (unless they're into dirt punk, in which case all bets are off!).

Bobby Owsinski said...

This is only too true. I firmly believe that there's no such thing as a demo, especially since all the tools (except maybe the experience and ears) are so readily available anymore.

I do think that it's different if you're an established act though, since sometimes the original song fragments are a fascinating insight to the development of a song, especially to the superfan.

Darren Landrum said...

Sorry for the late comment, but this is the perfect place to comment on something that's been bugging me for a bit.

Basically, I'm curious how many people allow themselves to be turned away by the requirement of an e-mail address to download a song or album. In other words, if I put an album out for free download, in exchange for an email address, how many people who were about to download it would them choose not to because of the e-mail address requirement?

Do you think there might be a way to obtain or figure out some data on this?

Musician said...

The idea of sharing a new song every 6-8 weeks(or less) sounds very interesting. However, I wonder how it will be possible to record/produce the songs in such timeframes without the help of professionals (engineers, producers,...), as you've mentioned before, who maybe be a "necessary evil" to the creative process.

Should the business model of the producer/engineer be adapted too, in order to fit the new "schedule" of the musician/songwriter?

Also, what about the time that a band spends on the road - which can be several months straight? I understand that the fan might want new music but isn't there a danger of providing too much?

Personally, I find it disappointing that musicians have to chase fans up to this point... As a fan, I don't like it...

Could you share your thoughts on those issues with us?

Bobby Owsinski said...

Releasing a new song or songs every 4 to 6 weeks doesn't mean that you're creating them in that space of time (although you might), only that's when you're making them available. You may produce them all at once as is normally done, or not.

Your true fans love the output, and you have more opportunities to reach listeners that aren't your fans yet.


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