The Art of Getting and Keeping Fans

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The music industry aside, in your daily interaction with unrelated music companies, such as utility companies, supermarkets, restaurants, etc., as a customer or client, it is easy to recognize those companies that value you as their most important asset, and those companies that do not.

Those that do recognize it, reflect this in how their personnel, who represent them, treat you and react and respond to your immediate needs.

Alternatively, those that do not recognize it and, otherwise, appear to feel that you are there to serve them, allow their employees to present rude and disrespectful behavior to customers, with little (if any) internal repercussions to their employees for doing so.

Now, let’s bring this same point closer to home where we live…in the Music industry, and see it through the history of both major record labels and artists, and where it has now come.

Major Record Labels:

Since before the existence of dinosaurs, major record labels have acted as a barrier between their artists and their artists’ fans, while severely mistreating their artists in several areas, primarily, financial.

Unbeknownst to the major labels, this would, ultimately, cause dismay and mass resentment from artists and fans alike, spiraling the labels’ downfall.

Also, the major labels could not have conceived of a “just dessert” in the form of a proverbial equalizer known as the Internet and other online technology, that would one day arrive on the music scene to not only break down, but obliterate this long-existing barrier between
artists and fans, causing all but a complete loss of control for the labels.


Initially, major label artists enjoyed being catered to, wined, dined and, supposedly, lavished in the trimmings and trappings of success, all the while assuming that their respective labels had their best interest at heart.

Only later, and to the misfortune of many artists, would they discover that ulterior motives lurked in the hearts and darkest corners of their
presidential offices in the forms of price-gouging recoupments, etc.

And, the labels’ very purpose for existence was vividly seen through their reaction to fan file sharing, combined with their roosting their talons on the door edges of Washington bureaucrats in efforts to either silence the new voice of technology, set or change their very own policies to fit their current agendas, or both.

What Artists Should Learn From This:

From this scenario, artists should learn to not allow history to repeat itself, in that they distance themselves from their fans, who are their careers’ life blood. If fans are not buying your music, you are not an asset…you are a liability, even unto yourself.

Hence, do anything you can, and as much as you can to forge the closest relationships possible. And, a perfect example, is a family.

I believe you will agree that, relation aside, the closest family members are the ones who see and interact with each other often, as opposed to members who simply show up at graduations, weddings, reunions or funerals.

Hence, as an artist, *you* are the head of a “family,” of which members include your fans. And, as all members must be nurtured and cared for by the heads of households, as the figurative head, it is your obligation and responsibility to touch base with your family members (fans) as often, and as in many ways as possible.

This can include:

1. Mailing List

A regular mailing list to keep them apprised of news and career developments. If your career is highly active, a bi-weekly list will probably be appropriate.

If your career is less active, then a monthly list is acceptable. In both cases, always insure that you have something new to say about what you are currently doing.

2. Discussion List

A discussion list, whereby, you establish a one-on-one contact and actually participate with your fans a few hours per week, as opposed to your list being one of many fan lists hosted by an unfamiliar party.

Fans, generally, understand that you probably lead a fairly busy life. However, your personal participation will go far in guaranteeing a lifelong allegiance to you and your music.

3. “Fan” Discounts

Special “fan” discounts to them on new music.

4. “Fan” Songs

Songs created especially for them in an effort to show your appreciation for their alliance with you. Now, this need not be brand new music, but music that you have, possibly, placed on the
“backburner,” so to speak.

5. Customized Fan Press Kits

Personally sending them a, sort of, press kit that has been customized for fans. This might seem slightly expensive at the onset, but will pay for itself many times over during the course of your career and life.

6. Contests & Giveaways

Holding special contests and giveaways exclusively for them. Be sure to make your prizes worth their attention, value-wise.

7. Gift Certificates

Providing them with the opportunity to win gift certificates, both related and unrelated to your music.

8. Raffles

Holding raffles exclusively for your fans and, again, that come with value perceived prizes.

9. Area Car Washes

10. Mall Signings

How about hanging out in the mall for a day, and doing a signing? Even better, hook up with a mall music store to get even better exposure during your signing by passing out flyers on your music?

11. Mall Giveaways

Personally, give away FREE copies of your singles for a day at a mall, directing mall patrons to stop in at the mall music store and pick up your CD.

Make sure your single (which you can either have made at your manufacturer or burn yourself) has your web site and contact info on its label.

12. Buy “In-Store” Airplay

Buy…that’s right “buy” some store airplay from a high traffic mall music store. This has several benefits such as:
a. Your music gets guaranteed in-store play, whereby, otherwise, it probably would not.

b. In-store patrons hear your music, whereas otherwise, they would not.

c. Positive response can create orders from in-store buyers, as well as generate interest in the store carrying your music regularly.

For maximum effect, do this in a large mall music store, or a popular high-traffic name brand music store.

13. Poster Mail-out

Do a poster mail-out campaign to fans who bought your CD.

14. Fan Birthdays

Put a form on your web site that asks for your fans’ name, mailing address and birthday, while assuring them that you will keep their personal information private.

Then, on their birthdays, surprise them with a gift. You could also send your fan a cute song specifically customized for them. Think that won’t be memorable and make a lifelong customer?

15. Fans As Street Teams

Why not turn your fans into promotional street teams? After all, besides you, who knows you and your music better? And, who would ever be more passionate about it than you?

Above all…don’t sell your CD for $18.99 (I’ve even seen some for $22.99), especially in today’s market. Plain and simple…it just won’t work.

Price? $9.99-$11.99 TOPS! And, even at $11.99, you had *better* have some bonus track *and* some serious multimedia happening.

I’m sure you can dream up even more ways to reach out to your fans in the interest of sealing a lifelong relationship with them.

What all the preceding equates to, is your action and execution of a fairly regular intra-marketing plan that becomes extremely successful because so many of your competitors are not even thinking along these promotional lines.

And, as everyone, regardless of their status in life, appreciates recognition to some degree. In small talk, it is simply pleasing to be noticed that you have made a different to someone, at some time. And, your fans will dearly love you for showing them you care about them.

The point is, to get your fans to feeling that they truly know you, and that you are not simply interested in the amount of money you can make off them with your music.

In other words, don’t allow them to feel as though they are being used and that, outside of their parting with their money, they are of little or no consequence to you…that the only time they will hear from you again, is when your next CD is released.

Above all, forging a warm and honest relationship with your fans, while also providing them with some, all or even more of the above elements, will pay off far more via word-of-mouth exposure than you can possibly ever imagine.

And, it is certainly something that fans are unaccustomed to receiving from artists or labels. But, you have the opportunity right here…right now to change their perspective.

After all, since most artists are *not* involved with their fans to the degrees above, your being one of the first to do so could, eventually, make you one of your genre’s most pioneering and prized staples.

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