a Fan Base - Who needs One and Why
© 2002 Ken Klar. All rights reserved
of the main things to remember as you travel the world of
the music business is.
It's not fun, it's not art, it's not personal expression,
and it's not sex. It's Business. That's it. And the sooner
you come to terms with this fact, the better off both you
and your career will be. So before you approach a pro (which
is short for "pro-fessional", meaning that they
get paid for what they do), take some time to think about
what you are bringing to the meeting. If all you are bringing
is a sad face and empty hands, you need to reschedule.
Don't meet with an industry professional until you can bring
SOMETHING of interest to the meeting. By interest, I don't
mean, where you were born and how big a vocal range you
have. Bring something to the meeting that will pique their
what can I possibly bring?" , I can hear you asking
from here. Well, the truth is that there are a number of
things you can do if you prepare properly. But there's one
thing that you can bring without having to spend a ton of
money developing it: A FANBASE. That's right, it doesn't
take a lot of money, but there is a modest amount of effort
can you do with this fan-base?
With a good-sized fan-base, you can give a DJ a reason to
play your material on the local radio station. Trust me,
if you have documented 15,000 fans that will listen to his
radio station because you are on it, he will be a lot more
interested in playing your music.
With a good-sized fan-base you can convince a distributor
that your CD is something he should be placing in record
store across the country.
With a good-sized fan base you can pack the local coffee
shop with coffee drinking consumers every week, which will
make the storeowner very happy to see you and eager to book
the next gig, and the next, and the next!
With good-sized fan base you can travel outside of your
local area and still have more than a handful of strangers
show up at your show.
Of course that's not all you can accomplish, but I think
you get the drift. What's more, there's a ton that you can
do with a good-sized fan base that is very difficult to
do without one. Now that we have established your need for
a fan base, lets talk about a few ways you can start, build
and maintain one.
Look to your family and friends first. These may very well
be the most loyal fans you will ever have, so don't disregard
them. Make a list of all the family and friends that you
could count on to come out and see you perform. Don't concern
yourself with where they live in relationship to you. That's
not nearly as important as their attitude toward you and
I'm constantly amazed at the number of artists that don't
have or aren't developing a mailing list. No artist should
ever play a gig without a mailing list lying around. Don't
forget to mention its existence from the stage. How are
your new fans supposed to know that you have one unless
you tell them? Some performers put little mailing list forms
on each table in the audience before the gig and collect
them afterward. And these days, having a mailing list form
on your website is a MUST. The truth is, it doesn't really
matter how you get the names and addresses, but you have
to get them.
IS ANYONE THERE?
Once you have this list, however large or small it may be,
the next thing you need is a way top get the word out. There
are a number of ways. The more conventional approach is
through postcards, letters. But the telephone works well.
It is critical that you select a way of communicating that
is comfortable for you and that makes valuable use of your
Newsletters are a terrific way of getting the word out in
one shot. With this media you can pour over your communication
word by word to make sure it is exactly what you want to
send before you send it out. Then, send it to everyone on
your list with the simple push of one button. There are
number of great services to use for this purpose. The Internet
is terrific because
many of them are free! I can personally recommend Yahoo
Groups and Topica.com but I'm sure there are others. The
main benefit of using a service like these is that you won't
inadvertently share anyone's email address with everyone
else in your fan-base. Trust me, there is nothing worse
than the dubious distinction of being the single biggest
source of junk e-mail for all of your trusted family, friends
and loyal fans.
The downside of sending out newsletters is that they can
be impersonal. But, that is something that you can easily
change by establishing a friendly tone in your newsletter.
One of the
things that you should consider is sending out `personal'
emails as well. For me this is a `form' email that I customize
for each recipient. The good thing about this sort of communication
is that it is very personal in nature and allows for your
fans to "get to know you" on a much more intimate
level than would be possible through a standard newsletter.
But, this also takes a lot more time because you will need
to edit each communiqué. Keep in mind that there
is no right or wrong here, it mainly depends on your personal
style and the amount of time you are able to invest.
One of the newest phenomena to hit the street is the advent
of personal groups of Jr. marketeers called "street
teams". These are actual fans that you have cultivated
come in the form of exuberant teens ready and able to do
anything you ask of them. So, once you have established
you "team" of loyal fans, these are the same people
you send all the free promo stuff to and in turn they spread
the word. They wear your band t-shirts to school. They give
away your Demo CD and hundreds of flyers to your next gig.
But wait, here's the best part: THEY DO IT FOR FREE! Why?
They do it because they love what you are doing and want
to be part of something bigger than themselves. They get
to go to school and to the movie theater or the mall and
feel like a big-shot because they're on YOUR street team.
Don't be afraid to use this promotion to affect you current
fan-base in a positive way!
Once you have begun cultivating your fanbase, you need to
feed it. It's a bit like owning a pet dog, really. You have
to establish is a consistent form of communication with
those that are most interested in what you are doing musically.
But be careful to not overload your fans. In the beginning
there can be a temptation to touch base too often, if you
overdo it your loyal fans will leave you. Remember this
simple rule of thumb: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FANS MORE THAN ONCE A MONTH.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY?
Having trouble filling the pages? Be short and sincere.
A few paragraphs are enough. Just be honest. Let them know
who you are, where you are in the artistic process, and
what you're thinking, and doing. Your fans simply want to
feel like they know you, they want to be part of your journey
to stardom. Let them in on it. It's fun having the support
of others. Besides, who'll do it if you don't?
Klar is a Producer, Songwriter and Managing Director of
Must Have Music (BMI)/Must Have More Music (ASCAP), which
has spent the last ten years, developing an extensive catalog
of top quality original songs ranging from Adult Contemporary,
Pop/R&B, Contemporary Christian, Pop-Rock and Country.
The current catalog includes more than one hundred songs
that have been placed with Independent Artists across the
country. For information about this and other music industry
related topics, go to http://www.musthavemusic.net