Should Know About Their
by Christopher Knab ,
Back to The Academy
Stop trying to shop for “deals”. I am amazed how many
emails and phone calls I still get in 2006 from musicians and bands that still
want a major label recording contract. (Has American Idol really done that much
damage to the entrepreneurial spirit of independent music career building?)
Instead get to know who your fan is. Make it your major
goal to study who the people are that come to see your live shows, buy your
CDs, download your music and podcasts’ purchase your merchandise, and visit
your websites. Those folks are the most valuable assets you have outside of the
great songs you have written.
Studying the lifestyles of your fans will give you a passport
to making money with your music. Why? Because when you discover who they are in
great detail, their habits and lifestyles will inspire ways of reaching them
you never imagined.
Haven’t you seen hundreds of entertainment products and
other merchandise for sale at places other than the obvious stores? You know,
stuff like the action figures associated with some mega movie promotion given
away with a hamburger. Or, how about those special deals when you subscribe to
a certain magazine, and you get a free book or discount coupons good for movie
tickets. Behind each of these special promotions is customer research.
To help you get into the same kind of mindset as any
professional marketer, here are some questions for you to ponder regarding your
- How old are they? (determine the widest range of
What gender are they? (if both, what percentage
is dominant, or is it even?)
- Are they one specific ethnic background or a mix
- Do they drive cars to work, or do they carpool,
take public transportation, ride bikes, or walk?
- If they go to school, what kind of schools do
they go to?…gradeschools, highschools, colleges, business schools,
- Are they religious people, or spiritual seekers,
- What political parties do they belong to, and
what if any causes do they champion?
- If they go out to dinner, what kind of
restaurants do they go to…fancy and expensive places or fast food restaurants?
- Where do they shop for clothes…Value
Village, Kmart or Nordstroms?
- What kind of hobbies and other interests beside
music do they have… mountain climbing, hiking, jogging, boating, other sports
- What other music do they like…particularly what
other bands and artists do they spend their money on?
- What kind of movies do they go see in theaters,
and/or rent at videostores?
- When they travel, do they go by car, bus, train,
- What books might they enjoy reading, and where
would they buy them?
- What kind of volunteer work might they do…work
in hospitals, fairs and festival volunteers, church groups, youth clubs?
- What TV shows might they watch, and what radio
stations do they listen to?
- What internet websites do they visit on a
OK. now, how do you begin finding out all the answers to
these questions? Well, a client came to me one time and told me that for 2
years they had been videotaping their live shows to watch at rehearsals, so
they could see what their stage appearance looked like from the audience’s
point of view. I applauded this habit, but told them that after 2 years of
doing that they should turn the video camera around and videotape their
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, studying
your audience for awhile should give you some big clues to their lifestyles.
You will see their ages and genders, their hairstyles and clothing, and if you
look between the lines you can make some pretty good educated guesses on some
of the things I have suggested in the questions listed above.
In the beginning you will have to get use to this new
habit of studying your fan. Give it time. After awhile your ongoing survey of
who they are will begin to tell its tale, and before long you will be thinking
like a professional marketer.
When you see that most of your audience are 18-25 for
example, are more male than female, are in community colleges or enrolled in a
university nearby, and buy their clothes at second hand stores…then you can
find some fun and exciting promotion and marketing ideas that may catch their
attention. Like, concentrate your live shows on having house parties, or
playing campus venues, and blanketing the campuses with posters and flyers. Get
a campus organization to sponsor one of your shows, get a listing or a story
about your act in the college paper, and partner with a local record store to
sell your concert tickets and offer a dollar off your CD when they buy a
concert ticket. Make your show a partial benefit for that charity second hand
clothing store, so that they can promote your show with posters and handouts to
their customers, and have a small display at their checkout counter for your CD
at the clothing store too. (But don’t forget to sell your CD and other
merchandise at all your shows, and have your mailing list available for the new
fans to sign up for).
If your fan research shows that you have fans who are
older, you will have to go a different route. Let’s say they are females, 25-39
and live an alternative lifestyle that includes having groups of friends over
for a book club discussion, listening to acoustic music, and preferring tea to
coffee. Then think about doing what I call ‘tell a friend’ acoustic home
concerts. You select a fan to host a show at their home and invite their
friends to attend for free. You make your money by selling your CDs and other
merchandise to an ever-expanding fanbase.
Also, put a ‘customer survey’ on your website. Ask them to
fill out the survey, and perhaps thank them with a free song download, or a
discount off your CDs…whatever…just do it!
So, there you go. The list of promotional ideas and
inspirations for creative self-marketing are endless, when and if you know who
your customer is. The best independent labels out there are thinking this way
all the time. That is why you may have seen hip hop CD compilations for sale at
shoe stores, or found CD samplers given away at bookstores. Your customer is
really not that much different than you. Just start paying attention wherever
you are, and wherever they are and watch how other products are being sold and
marketed. The customers are out there, but they have a lot to choose from, so
get your music to them in fun and creative ways.
Your fans will never let you down once you get the
lowdown on them.
Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He
is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: email@example.com
Chris Knab's book, 'Music Is Your Business'
is available from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.
Visit the FourFront Media and
Music website for more information on the business of music from