I have learned many things over the years
in this business of music, but it has taken me a majority of those
years to come to terms with what I feel is the most important
aspect of being an artist. We all want to sell CD's, we all want
to make records and tour. However, none of this is possible without
ongoing support from those that buy the records and come to the
shows. I'm talking about the fans. Over the years, fans will come
and go, they will tell their friends and new fans will appear.
The most important thing I have learned is how imperative my existing
fanbase is to me. Fans are precious. When new fans arrive it is
important to welcome them into the family (so to speak) and make
them feel at home.
In a perfect world it would be great to get to know everyone who
comes to see you play. Whilst this is possible to some degree,
the more successful you get, the more this is just not realistic.
However, I can assure you that any fan of yours that you see regularly
at gigs, will be flattered if you simply remember their name.
This in turn will make them all the more eager to support you
With the advent of the Internet, the next thing I have learned
is that there is nothing more important than your existing
list of e-mail subscribers! When someone subscribes
to your "e-newsletter" you can then let them know about
your upcoming shows in their neighborhood. They are then of course
free to subscribe and unsubscribe but if you are doing your job
right as an artist, unsubscribes should be kept to a minimum.
I have seen bands signed to major record labels and had success,
only to have completely dismissed the idea of maintaining a fan
mailing list, assuming that the label will take care of them.
Once they get dropped from the label (everyone gets dropped at
some point trust me!) they have nothing to fall back on. Had they
built a list and kept that list they would have an existing fan
base to sell CD's to independently. Instead they are totally reliant
on major retail distribution and radio to get them back in the
From time to time I surf around the Internet seeing what artists
and bands are doing that I might not be, and it never ceases to
amaze me how so many artist websites are not collecting data from
their fans. This is SO IMPORTANT. An attractive looking website
is of course important if not implicit. It should contain everything
a fan requires so they know all about you as an artist, but you
need to seduce them into giving you their e-mail address. Here's
a few ideas for you to think about...
There has to be good reason for someone to subscribe when they
go to your website. The usual "subscribe here and we'll
let you know when we're playing" is not really going
to cut it for the most part. A more effective idea might be to
entice people to go to a certain area of your website that is
restricted to members only. In the members room (or "hot
room" as I have called it on my personal site) your fans
could get access to all sorts of goodies like personal secrets
shared from your band members, or a free downloadable home video
the band made at the Playboy Mansion, OK I'm getting in over my
head here, but you get the idea. Put your thinking caps on for
this one and try to come up with something inventive and seductive.
You can still have all the main items available on the site outside
the members pages (bio, tour schedule, releases etc.) but have
a special section available to only those who subscribe. When
they subscribe, you can set up an autoresponder that gives them
a username and password to access the members only room.
I should also mention here that you ONLY want subscribers who
want to subscribe, that are interested in you and your music.
Obtaining third party lists will only get you into trouble and
will do nothing to help your music career.
You should also collect subscribers first name, last name, e-mail
address and state. (If you like you can see how this works on
my personal website at www.chrisstandring.com).
The reason you take this info is so you can e-mail specific people
when you go to specific places to play. I.E. You send an e-mail
to your "Illinois" list if you play a gig in Chicago.
You should personalize each e-mail because they are your fans
and they are important to you and they will pay more attention
if you do.
So to conclude; take good care of your fans old and new, you need
them always. Look after your e-mail list, it is precious. It is
your business, now and in your future. Ciao for now.
The Author: Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to
Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording
career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com
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