The following post is a guest editorial from Ian Baldwin of See & Hear Design. Ian is one of our absolutely favorite designers and an all-round good guy with deeply rooted ties to the music business. Heed his advice.
You Have To Check-In and Post Weekly
It is easy to be missed or ignored on social media news feeds. The question is: how can a band or solo artist in 2016 not get lost in a world of noise? In this article, you will find some suggestions that have worked for me and my bands in the past.
For the best results, I recommend you show up at all of these places constantly. Having a weekly output of content or interaction with fans is the best way to stay at the front of people’s minds. We all run on weekly schedules — weekly meetings, meet ups, classes, coffee dates, rehearsals, tv shows, sporting events, etc.
The same goes for our behavior online. We show up to see what is going on over on Facebook. We check Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Most of us check our email at least once a week. We check the news on our favorite websites. We listen to podcasts. There are many more that I could list, but let’s get to the good and profitable stuff.
One thing I did need to mention is you will connect with your fans the most during your live performances. This is where you and your fans are the most vulnerable and will connect on a more personal level. Use what resources you have online to maximum your reach and attract people to your shows. Entertain them and give them something to talk about the next day.
Here are 5 places that you can find and connect with other musicians and music fans on a deeper level. These are in no particular order — just the order I thought of them.
Chorus.fm is everything you loved about Absolute Punk but much, much better. You can check up on the latest news on the homepage of the website and leave your thoughts on the forums side of the site. Jason Tate has cultivated a growing community (15,359 members) of passionate music fans who not only love talking about music but many other things as well (sports, entertainment, politics, technology, and more).
You can post about your band in a thread that you start yourself as well as post anything new you have released in the Self-Promotion Thread. It’s a great place to interact and make new friends that could turn into some of your most loyal fans. In my use of this site, I noticed that a lot of musicians are a part of the site and stay pretty active.
You can find me mostly in the Graphic Design Thread that I started and theSelf-Promotion Thread. My profile on Chorus can be found here. I plan on being more active on Chorus once I transition into a part-time day job.
2. Facebook Groups
I’m sure that if you are on Facebook you are a part of a Facebook Group. The nice thing about Facebook Groups is that your groups can be open or closed. You could have a private group just for your band to help keep everyone on the same page. On the flip side, having an open group for your fans to talk to and interact with you helps you stay more connected and in the know about what your band is up to.
Notifications from a group go right to a person’snotifications so they won’t miss a single thing you post within the group.
This is one way to beat the Facebook algorithm we have all come to loathe so much. Ask your fans to like and share anything important you post on your band’s Facebook wall to help spread your message. Doing this will also let their friends and family know about your band.
One other bonus to having a Facebook Group for your band is that all of your fans can connect and talk to each other about you and why they love your band so much. How cool is that?! Get creative about how you involve your fans in what you are working on.
Alright, so contests aren’t really a place. But you could have a contest online that will help more potential fans discover you — and the prize for that contest could be two tickets to your upcoming concert with that well-known headliner you are playing with! Just an idea. I won’t charge you for that one. 😉
I’m sure many of you have ran contests before but I wanted to remind you that they still work. Here are some ideas.
- You could have your current fans submit fan art and you vote on which you think is the best.
- Give your fans the stems to a single you put out and have them create a remix.
- Partner with your local venues, restaurants, coffee shops or brands and see if they can throw in anything as a prize. (What business doesn’t love some inexpensive marketing where they have to do little to no work?!)
Cross promotion works and you’ll be surprised by how many brands are willing to work with a band if your music fits in with their marketing or customers lives. You just need to ask — the worst they can say is no.
4. Email Newsletters
So you are probably thinking this right now, “Ian, email is ancient. Why would anyone read or subscribe to a newsletter from my band?” Well, I have news for you: Everyone still uses email and it is one of the best ways to stay connected with your fans. Sites like Bandcamp and NoiseTrade can help you start building your email list to stay in touch with your fans. The trade off is when that new fan gives you their email and zip code you give them something in return — normally a free song.
Having a person’s email and zip code does two things for you.
- You can email that person the band has a new release or tour announcement.
- You have their zip code so you know if you have a 50 or more fans within the same are that it might be worth taking a trip to their city and playing a gig. (You have proof that you can show the venue that X number of people liked your music enough to download it and give you their email.)
That isn’t guaranteed attendance to a concert but it is data worth having to make calculated risk on where to play out of town shows. Plus you could take a poll on your new Facebook Group to see how many people would be interested in coming out to a show if you came to their city.
Once you have all of your emails, you can import them into MailChimp and send your fans weekly newsletters just like I am doing with you. MailChimpis free for up to 2,000 subscribers. It is what I use to send my newsletter to you every week.
I talked about podcasts in a previous newsletter and blog post. They are so great because a podcast makes you feel like you are in the room with that person or group and are part of the conversation. You can refer to your fans as the audience and give them the inside scoop about what is going on with the band. Hawthorne Heights is currently doing this and it working out very well for them. They talk about current events, tour stories, upcoming shows, answer fan questions and much more. I personally love hearing about the behind the scenes of how my favorite bands operate and I’m sure many others do as well.
On top of having your own podcast you could ask to be a guest on an already established podcast and share your story or discuss a topic you find interesting. Here are some podcasts that I would recommend reaching out to be a guest. Don’t forget to do your research and listen to one or two episodes and make yourself familiar with the style of each podcast. The hosts will thank you for it!
- Inside Music Podcast (James Shotwell)
- Missaligned (Deanna Chapman)
- Tuned Up Podcast (John Beach)
- The Record Podcast (Nick Vombrack)
Just tell them a bit about your band and what you would like to talk about. This would be good to do around the time of an upcoming release or tour so that their audience has time to check out what you are plugging.
Remember the worst anyone can say is no. If that happens, just move on and ask someone else.
Podcasting is huge now and you can definitely find someone to have you on their show. I recommend listening to The Podcast Dude to learn how to be a guest on a podcast or start your own — if that is something you decide to do. I personally use a Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone whenever I am on a podcast and it works great. I’m not a podcasting expert, thoughAaron Dowd is and if you reach to him on Twitter to ask a question about podcasting, tell him I sent you his way.
LAUNCH Music Conference 2017
This isn’t connecting with bands or fans online but it is something much better — a conference. I went to LAUNCH last year and had a blast! No pun intended. Meeting people face-to-face is the best way to connect and let people know what you are about. My mission at LAUNCH last year was to meet new people in the music industry, discover new bands, and just be a part of the community at the conference.
Of course, I printed business cards and promoted Hear&See, but that was just a bonus. I would ask the person I was talking to what they were doing at the conference first and what they were trying to get out of it. I made a lot of new friends and finally met some people I had been following on Twitter for a few years. You know who you are!
If you’re in a band you can register to play a LAUNCH right now. The conference is April 13th-16th, 2017. This is something that can enhance your career and expand your network. The more people that know about you and your band the better. Even if they aren’t buying your music, booking a show for you, or signing you to a label; them knowing you just adds to your reach and you being ubiquitous (seeming to be seen or talked about everywhere). I plan on going again in 2017 and I hope to see some of you there. 😃
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