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.