Last week’s blogging lesson has been my favorite one to write so far, and received a lot a great feedback from readers. This week, however, is much more important, and focuses on the end goals of anyone looking to make a solid living off music: Connecting with fans, and making $$$ while doing it!
Nearly every genre of music is over-saturated with mediocre acts pushing and shoving each other around for exposure. It has never been more difficult to break through the static and garner the attention of the masses. People are exposed to dozens, if not hundreds of advertisements, spam e-mails, and other calls-to-action throughout the course of a day, and it is so easy for your message (music) to get lost in the scuffle.
Let’s face the facts. If you are going at it alone (and by alone I mean just you and your small team of kick ass friends), DIY style with your music career, you are probably not going to be able to reach the masses unless you have some kind of serious connections.
When my band mates and I finally came to that realization a few years ago, we tried not to freak out and get all upset that we probably weren’t going to become the next big thing on our own. Instead, we embraced that notion and thought to ourselves, “Hmm…okay…so where should we go from here?”
The first thing we did was change our goals completely. When we were young (16 & 17), we wanted the fame. The glory. The million dollar record deal, and all of its bells and whistles. But we didn’t have any connections. We were just bunch of kids in a basement with some instruments. So we let go of our delusions of grandeur, and decided to take a DIY approach from there on. We all dug deep and forced ourselves to start learning the business side of the music industry, and how new strategies and technologies could help us move our career forward.
In week 6 of Ariel’s book, she gives some great advice on how you can connect with your fans, and create a meaningful, long-lasting relationships that fuel your music career.
Promoting with a handshake, not a megaphone
Instead of shouting out to potential (and existing) fans in hopes that they will hear your message, consider REACHING out to them. Introduce yourself to people online, and ask about them in return. Establish a relationship with them, then offer them something valuable for free, like a song download. If your fans know you and like you FIRST, they will be much more willing to accept and buy your music.
Utilize your mailing list for building fan relationships
Next to your music, your most valuable asset as a musician is your mailing list. This is a direct channel of communication between you and your fans, and the best place to really focus in and develop strong relationships. I would recommend segmenting your master list into smaller groups based on all kinds of demographics, psychographics, and interests, and send different messages to each group. If you don’t know any of this information, then ask your fans to fill out a really quick survey. If you sound sincere and genuine, and assure them that you will not share this information with others, the majority of your mailing list will be willing to help out. After collecting all this information, create separate groups for them and send different e-mails to different groups.
Example: If you like skiing in your free time, and so does a portion of your fans, separate those people into a special group (many mailing list services let you do this) and let them know where you are headed on your next skiing adventure, and invite them to come hang out with you.
Example: If you have a show coming up in Atlanta, Georgia, create a separate list of fans that are only from that area, and inform only those people about the upcoming date.
Writing an engaging newsletter
Ariel says that there are three “G’s” to writing an excellent newsletter to your fans: Greeting, Guts, and Getting.
This is where you can starting building that connection between you and your fans. Keep it to a short paragraph, but ask what’s up and share something interesting , non-music related, and personal about yourself. If you know your fans names, many mailing list services let you easily import their first name into the e-mail to help make it a bit more personal. This is something I do with my band all the time, and it does help personalize the newsletter a bit more, and make it feel more genuine.
This is the meat and potatoes of your e-mail, and where you should talk about the latest and greatest surrounding your music. Upcoming tour dates, a new EP, a free download, whatever is going on with you at the moment. Try to tell a story while describing these things, because people absolutely love well-told stories.
Getting (aka a “call-to-action”)
Ultimately, with every newsletter that you write, you will want your ask your fans to do something. Whatever it may be (download a track, share a blog post, look at new pictures, buy your new EP, etc), your call-to-action needs to be clearly stated, and not come off as begging. In Ariel’s book, she gives an awesome list of basic calls-to-action that you can get started on. Also, make sure that there is only ONE call-to-action in each newsletter that you send out. If you are asking your fans to do more than one thing in an e-mail, they will easily get confused or turned off because you are asking too much of them too soon.
Don’t underestimate the power of surveys
It is really hard to know what your fans want if you don’t ask them. So….ASK THEM! Services like SurveyMonkey are great for getting some concrete information about things like how much your fans are willing to pay for your music and merch, what they like to see at live shows, who their favorite artists are besides you, how often they like to receive e-mail from you, etc. Having all of this information about your fans makes it much easier when setting up a pricing model for your next album release, what to incorporate into your live show, and other aspects of your music career. If you can deliver and give your fans exactly what they want, in combination with effective e-mail newsletters, you will see the dollar signs rack up much quicker.