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.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

8 Principles Of Fan Communication

Staying in touch with your fans is probably about the most important thing an artist can do these days, but the way it's done is equally as important. In an excerpt from the Music 3.0 Internet Music Guidebook, here are 8 principles of fan communication.

1 - Talk to your fans, not at them. Don’t try to sell them, but keep them informed. Anything that reads like ad copy might be counterproductive. Always treat them with respect and never talk down to them.

2 - Engage in communication. Communication is a two-way street. Fans want to know that they’re being listened to. You don’t have to answer every email, but you have to acknowledge that you heard it. The more questions you ask, polls you supply and advice you seek, the more the fan feels connected to you.

3 - Keep your promises. If you say you’re going to do something, do it in a timely fashion. Don’t let the fans wait. If you promise you’re going to email a link and post a song, sooner is always better.

4 - Stay engaged. Even if you’re only sending something simple like a link, take the time to engage the fan. Tell her about upcoming gigs, events or releases. Take a poll. Ask for advice. This is a great opportunity for communication, so take advantage of it.

5 - Utilize pre-orders. If you have a a release coming soon, take pre-orders as soon as you announce it, even it’s free. It’s best to get people to act while the interest is high, plus it gives the fan something to look forward to. To motivate the fan for a pre-order, it sometimes helps to include exclusive content or merchandise.

6 - Appearance means a lot. Style counts when talking to fans. Make sure everything looks good and is readable. Spelling or grammar mistakes reflect badly on you. Try to keep it simple but stylish, but it you or your team don’t have the design chops to make it look good, it’s better to just keep it simple and readable.

7 - Cater to uber fans. All of the members of your tribe are passionate, but some are more passionate than others. Fans have different needs and wants and it’s to everyone’s benefit if you can cater to them all. Try to always include a premium or deluxe tier for every offering such as a free T-shirt or backstage pass as a reward for posting, a free ticket to an upcoming show, signed artwork, extra songs, anything to satiate the uber fan’s interest.

8 - Give them a choice. Give fans numerous ways to opt-in since not everyone wants to receive their information, or the type of information, the same way. Ask if they would rather receive info by email, SMS or even snail mail. Ask if they’d like to receive info on upcoming shows, song releases, video content, or contests. And ask how often they’d like be contacted.

Follow these 8 principles and your communication with your fans will remain both smooth and profitable.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Costs Of Breaking An Act

Want to know how much it costs to break an act on a major label? How about a cool $1 million, according to a report from UK's IFPI. Advances, recording, marketing and promotion are the largest part of that figure. According to that same report, record labels around the world invest up to $5 billion a year on talent alone.

The IFPI also states that there are currently more than 4,000 artists on major label rosters, 25% of them signed over the past year, with 30% of all revenues plowed back into marketing and 16% spent on A&R and R&D.

The entire world-wide music sector, which includes radio, publishing, audio equipment and live revenue, is estimated to generate $160 billion annually, and employs more than two million people.

The music industry is having it's problems for sure, but it's still huge. There's a lot of money out there, but just like water, it's seeping into places it's not been before and finding a new level. What scares everyone that's been entrenched for a while is the way the balance of power is changing. But that's a good thing as the industry certainly needs a reshaping.

Music has gone stale. How much of it will be played 10 years from now? Probably not much. That $5 billion (yes, with a "b") that's being spent on talent is being spent on chasing the last hit and the next pretty face rather than developing true artists and innovators like the way it was done when music was vital and culturally significant.

That $1 mil to break an act is being spent on a legacy promotion system that returns so little for such a large investment, because the entire music eco-system is undergoing a change - some sectors more rapidly than others.

Lest I sound like I have it out for record labels in general, I understand that there remains a need for them, perhaps now more than ever before. An artist can only take the Do It Yourself route so far before he needs the infrastructure than only a label can provide to take things to the next level.

But the way business is done in 2010 should be way different than in 2000, and the label of today must become the label of the future - the one that understands Music 3.0 and the synergy of the artist and his fans - if it expects to survive.

I'm still waiting for a new label with some innovative ideas and fresh blood to take the industry by storm. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Music Industry And Legal File Sharing

The music industry is still sticking to the old CD paradigm and apparently will go kicking and screaming into Music 3.0. The Telegraph recently ran an interesting article regarding a recent survey that exposed some major flaws in the current strategy of the majors.

Before we get to the numbers in the survey, the conclusion was that the best way for the music industry to combat online piracy was to promote legal online sales, something that the industry so far has failed to do. These numbers are startling:
  • Of the almost 2000 people surveyed in the UK, 4 in 10 couldn't name a single online music service (there are about 20)
  • 9 out of 10 consumers that are aware of online music services are only aware of 2: iTunes and Amazon.
  • The IFPI (the UK music trade organization that's the equivalent to the US RIAA) estimates that 95% of music downloaded last year was illegal, a figure that seems way high to me, but whatever the real figure is, it's certainly high.
Now the reality is that the CD is still pretty profitable when a sale actually occurs, a lot more so than the single song download that predominates today, and even though CD sales are down some 55% since 2000, it's still a really big business that won't go away soon. Yes, I know, CD's are dying, they're old technology, they're not hip, etc., but they're still sold in huge numbers, so the last thing the music establishment wants to do is to hasten it down the road out of town.

The other thing is that the major labels generally hate the fact that they've lost the battle of distribution to a computer company, namely Apple, which still calls the shots on pricing. I have a feeling that some of the people that run the majors would rather drink tainted milk than give in to Steve Jobs again, so the idea of sending business his way probably makes them wretch just as much.

I'm not sure how much merit the idea of promoting legal file sharing to prevent piracy really has though, since the 40% who couldn't name a single online service probably aren't computer hip enough to illegally download either. But sooner or later, it will behoove the record industry to finally promote online music, so it might as well be sooner.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

5 Tips For Building Your Email List

Your email list is a major component for marketing to your fanbase. It's widely overlooked since most artists believe that their Facebook friends and Twitter followers are enough, but you email list allows you to reach out and personally connect with the fans and control you message while you're doing it.

A well thought out email blast allows you to do the following:

1) Engage your fan on a more 1 to 1 basis
2) Design the communication without the constraints of a social network
3) Add a call-to-action

This makes it easier to inform, market and sell to your fan in a manner that the true fan (superfan, uberfan, Tribal member - whatever you want to call them) enjoys, if you do it well.

Here's a short video about the best way to harvest those valuable email addresses.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...