|Nurture Your Fans!
By Chris Standring -
Back to The
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 in future.
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 game.
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 have a pop up subscribe box on your home page that prompts people to subscribe and "get free access
to the members only room". Here is some popup code you can place in the html of your home page (underneath
the body tag):
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.
I personally believe that your e-mail list should belong to you and you only. This means that it should not sit
on a third party's webserver where you do not have control over it. You should manage your lists and keep it on
your hard drive where you can make personal backups. There is some astounding software called Mailloop which I
use to run my lists. It enables you to store first name, last name fields etc. and automatically stores names and
e-mail addresses in text files that you assign them to. It will automatically subscribe and unsubscribe addresses
and will send unlimited autoresponders. It can send out your mailing list for you and can send out in text or html
format. You can run it every time you go online or just keep it running 24/7. It's the perfect tool for any artist
or group wanting to manage their fan lists. It's without a doubt the best I have seen. Click here
to read my review.
So to conclude; take good care of your fans old and new, you need them always. Nurture your e-mail list, it is
precious. It is your business, now and in your future. Ciao for now.
Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R Online.
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to Mesa/Bluemoon Records. The music is marketed at NAC
and Urban AC radio. For more info on Chris' recording career go to his personal website.
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