Building Your Fanbase
By Chris Standring -
- May 2006
Back to The
I have always been
a huge advocate of being in control of one's destiny as an artist. It's almost
ridiculous to assume that an artist would want it any other way, or so one would
think.. Whether we are signed to major labels, indies or doing it grass roots
style all on our own, we have to assume that our careers will continue to
flourish. So we have to market smarter. And in a time of huge musical
transition, if we don't we are all in trouble.
Something that I
personally have become quite an expert in is marketing on the Internet, and for
the last couple of years I have been determined to find a way to sell my CDs on
the Internet, in the same way I do with my informational products and guitar
courses. One of the reasons informational products sell on the Internet is
because a marketer can capitalize on those who are searching for that
information. The trouble with music is it is a 'want' not a 'need' and unless a
fan came to your show and couldn't get your CD, why would they be searching for
you? This has been the difficulty so far. Clearly one effective tactic (and
Amazon.com have used this) is to piggy back off more familiar names. So if you
have a website selling music, you could maybe suggest that "if you liked
Coldplay then perhaps you would like blah blah bla" and so on. But this is hard
to set up and a huge commitment.
So what else can we do? Something that
is a little less overwhelming. Well my feeling is that you have to grow
your list of subscribers. I got very excited recently when my new "Soul Express"
2006 album came out. I had a shipment of CDs sent to me from my label so I
decided to offer the new album at a discount. $11.99 to be precise. Now, there
ain't much profit there for a signed artist trust me, (I pay them $8 per unit -
yikes!!) especially with management commissions (15%) (and when I do shows, the
promoter can also take up to 25% - ouch!), but I did set up a cool little
program to boost sales a little...
My subscribers got an email with a
link to buy the new album. Now, the real incentive to buy was this: In the email
I said "Get the new album Soul Express from www.ChrisStandring.com and
download 8 mp3 bonus tracks that didn't make the final album - and read all
about why!". This is an offer that is not available in any of the stores so
that is clearly an incentive to buy from me. When they clicked on the order link
it took them to an upsell web page that asked the visitor if they would like to
add two more CDs to their order for a $22 discount. This little trick converted
approx. 20% of customers. You can see that page here. Turned out I sold 200 CDs in around 4 days. Not
So if there is something I have learned it is that once I have a
subscriber in my database, it is like gold dust, and provided they really want
to be on that list, the chances of converting them into a sale when a new album
comes out are pretty high. And with this in mind I started thinking, "Gotta get
more on my list, gotta get more on my list...but how do I do that?"....
put together a package tour at the beginning of this year. In my format, these
package tours are all the rage now, in fact many agents only want to book them,
insisting that solo artists are too difficult to sell to promoters. A package
tour is essentially where 3 or 4 headlining artists come together for a show and
one band backs them all. This way the promoter gets more bang for their buck.
Instead of waiting to be invited on one of these tours I decided to invent one.
I asked Jody Watley, who I have worked with on her last couple of albums, and I
also asked legendary soul-jazz keyboard player Jeff Lorber. The tour is called
"Soul Express featuring
Jody Watley, Jeff Lorber & Chris Standring" and the tour is
represented by Variety Artists International. We have some very high profile
shows coming up and I have been thinking to myself "How the heck can I
capitalize on all these fans at these festivals and concerts". If there are
6,000 people in the audience, how can I get them to subscribe to my list? I
don't want to lose them after all. So I came up with a groovy
Many of you know that getting folks to sign up on your mailing
list at gigs can be a nightmare. Why? because not everyone will come and sign up
after your show for a variety of reasons and it's not necessarily because they
don't want to. They are busy, the line is too long, they'll get to it later,
they didn't know what they were supposed to do, and so on. Those that do come
and sign up generally have such appalling handwriting that 50% come back as
mailer daemons when entered into a computer email database .
be a better way. We need a pull marketing strategy, not a push. And that was the
keyword for me...
I now have 5000 printed postcards (I'll print more as I
need to) that I am going to distribute at each of these concerts.... Probably
grab a street team member or local radio station intern to help. Slip them $20,
that kind of thing. The postcard
Free MP3 Bonus Chris
Standring Album Tracks!
Download 8 complete mp3 tracks that didn't make the
final Soul Express album - absolutely free.
I figure - once they have seen the show, and we have wowed them, why would they
not go and get 8 free tracks? Of course they may say, "Well why do I want tracks
that didn't make the album - I want the ones that did!". But they are free bonus
tracks, they can get the album too, at the gig or otherwise - they just have to
buy it! And I will see to it that they do. :)
So they can take that
little postcard and do what they want with it. My guess is that it will be a
numbers game. Those that want to get the free tracks simply have to enter their
first and last name and email address and they get an email with a link to
Over time, this method may change somewhat. I will need
to do some testing but I expect it to do quite well. After all, these folks came
to the gig - right? If I have done my job properly they should leave the gig as
new fans. Hopefully they will want to come again. And so the relationship
This is good grass roots street team stuff that you can take on
board yourselves, or not. I'm excited about it because it's non imposing. I
don't have to pressure anyone to sign up. They do it if they want
Until next time, take care!
Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R
Online. He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist
presently signed to Trippin 'n Rhythm/V2 Records. The music is marketed at NAC
and Urban AC radio. For more info on Chris' recording career go to his personal
website at www.chrisstandring.com
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