Connecting To Fans
Connecting To Fans
Some bands exist only on the internet, but online or real-world band or not, connecting to fans is always a challenge. For online bands, often it is because a band like that is one guy with a trove of music gear and a computer with a sequencer. Although some of these entities are respected, generally, they are looked down on by people in actual bands. Having bandmates seems to lend credibility. Strangely enough, when you see two live bands, and one has a website and the other doesn’t, that low-tech band is regarded as less serious. It seems that the two together are the image people respect as professionals. This has nothing to do with whether or not this is true – it’s what people think.
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I’ve gotten a few email questions about marketing in the real world, so I’d like to discuss connecting to fans. For real-world bands that have a real-world presence, and how do they tie their virtual existence into their real existence? If you’re a band without a real-world presence, then, sure, some of this stuff still applies anyway, so you might as well read on.
A mix between an online presence and a real-world presence is an ideal combination for connecting to fans. It allows you to to explore the space where you get to combine both, to your benefit.
Get The Marketing Vehicle Moving
Your internet presence is a marketing vehicle. It is an ideal vehicle for connecting to fans. Not everyone has a computer, but most have access to a smart phone. If you’re gigging in a reasonable metro area, chances are the young folk attending your show will have net access. Get them to your site. Scrape the gum off your wallet, and buy business cards with your URL. Pile them all over. After all, they may love you, but if you don’t tell them when you’re playing Shlomo’s Teriyaki Hut again, they may miss you. You may also be able to sell them some other junk while they visit your site. You know, junk – bumper stickers, hats, mugs. Oh yeah, and even music, like CDs, vinyl etc.
Considering that the web is indeed worldwide, you’ll find it fairly rare, although not impossible, that someone discovers you online and then becomes a body in attendance at a gig. On the other hand, people who see you live will probably wander onto your site. You don’t know when you will establish a new fan connection, or what will happen as a result but your actions can improve your chances of connecting to fans and at improving your results when engaging fans.
Speaking of things like hats and mugs, that’s an easy thing. Either go to some site that sells you trinkets so you can buy them and give them away (Want to support a musician? Lemark.net is run by a mp3.com artist), or set up a deal at a place like www.Cafepress.com, where they basically imprint your logo on things people order from them, and you add about $1 to the price profit. Oh, and there’s just something cool about selling or giving away beer steins as a door prize or something if you’re playing a bar. Remember, this type of junk is not for cash flow – it’s for advertising. These physical items, bought or given away, serve as reminders of your existence. Mousepads, magnets, whatever. Just chalk up the cost of advertising goodwill. It will keep you in people’s minds. Don’t forget your URL if it fits.
You should always immediately spend some of the money you’re earning at a gig on something marketing-wise to keep people interested in you. Free junk, ads, posters. Agents like somewhere in the realm of 12% of your pay. If you’re your agent, you need to promote yourself somehow. Take that 12% off and buy a few band logo T-shirts to give out, for example.
Now, why would I, a concertgoer, want to go to your website?
You tell me. Tour dates? Prizes? Unreleased tracks? Stories? Lyrics? BBs?
Sit down with your web person (you either are one or know one, don’t lie) and figure out what you can do to make real-world people go to your site. Stay in their face. Make them want to come back. The contests are nice. Got a few thousand CDs lying around? Hand them out, they’re not selling fast enough. Heck, if you hand out 5, and someone plays it for a friend, you may gain a fan.
Invest in a digital camera. Or become close friends with someone who has one. If you get photos at a gig of you and of the crowd, some people may log on just to see their mugs up on your site. A lot of low-tech folks would think it’s great to see themselves on your site. Of course, if you actually use music on your tax forms (and you should) that camera is a deduction counting as marketing and promotion.
CDs and Other Physical Media
If you sell CDs in the real world, make sure your URL is clearly visible on the back of the CD. Don’t make someone have to open it up to find it. But, put it there as well. This is a fairly rude thing to say, but assume that the person holding your CD is an idiot. Not that that has anything to do with your fans, it’s just a thing you should always do when trying to communicate to the public. Also, see last month’s Repetition piece.
Keep a little pad out for people to leave Email addresses when you play live, and make sure they walk away with your URL. Your mailing list can keep the fan connection alive and help feed the fan your music and merch.
This is especially important if your URL is NOT your band name! If your band is called Ezekial’s Reel and your URL is NOT www.ezekialsreel.com, then you better make it really clear what it is. If you just have something like an MP3.COM or other OMD page because you have no way to maintain a website, you should buy yourbandname.com, and get a web page that simply redirects you to your mp3 page. Remember, the public is not bright. If they don’t remember your URL is artist launch, you’re forgotten.
When playing in public, make sure your name is clearly displayed, and the URL is right there. This can be a banner, sign, your shirts, bass drum head, you name it. No one will find you online if they have no clue who you are.
Speaking of real-world ways to spread your band identity, try this:
http://www.creditcardfactory.com/ and get a credit card with your band logo on it. It impresses people and is a great conversation piece. The conditions say you can’t put musicians on the card – they mean established bands that you would have to pay a license fee to, like The Rolling Stones. You can get it if it’s “only you”.
Yes, the whole thing can become a catch-22 at some point – You need to be seen at a gig to get them to your URL so you can tell them when your gig is. But you have to treat live shows like it’s a search engine – some people may randomly come across you, now keep them returning.
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