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Building Your Fanbase and The Power Of Personal Persuasion

By Chris Standring

I played a couple of shows recently in California, both sponsored by radio stations. One in San Francisco, where KKSF jumped on board and promoted a free listener party in Concord, just outside San Fran. The other was in Irvine, Orange County, sponsored by KTWV 94.7 The Wave. Since I finished my recent eBook "Street Team", I have been inspired to go the extra mile marketing myself independently, doing all the things every indie artist has to do to get up the success ladder. These shows were no exception.

Even though I am signed to Mesa/Bluemoon records, I am under no illusions that one day my contract with this label will come to an end, as every artist's does. Of course I hope that I will be able to sign yet another deal but, provided I take care of business, who's to say I might not want to take advantage of a situation I have created, and go all the way indie? Let's face it, if I have a huge fanbase that I have managed to capture on a database, why not make $14 per CD instead of $1 (approx). There's a great deal more money to be made selling direct, opposed to being a small cog and selling through a corporate system. However, I want to be in a strong position to make that kind of career decision. And to do that I want to take advantage of my label's machine, yet be able to walk away with a massive mailing list that I can sell to personally if I have to.

I am presently on a mission to build a massive e-mail list of targeted opt-in only fans who want to be on that list because they dig the music. I have a figure of 100,000 in mind. That is a tall order, let's be honest. But with a concerted effort, focus and commitment, it can be done. I want to give you a couple of ideas that I have been implementing recently.

The Concord, CA show was an experiment for me regarding a new marketing idea. My good friend, sax player in my band and recording artist Dino Soldo (, actually gave me this idea as he is on to this street marketing stuff too. I was hesitant at first with this idea but then I thought what the heck. I bought 100 mini CDs and recorded one track only on each. At the end of my last record deal, contractually I had to give Instinct Records one final song in order to get out of the deal. I gave them a single called "Through The Looking Glass" which went on to become quite a big radio single in several territories. I decided to make that the track that was to be on the mini CD. As it wasn't on any full length album of mine, I figured it wouldn't interfere with any record sales at the end of the show. (This was an experiment don't forget).

The show in Concord was a free listener party and I knew a couple of thousand people would be there. I knew 'cos I had done the show a couple of years before. I went over to the KKSF booth and asked them if they would give these mini CDs out. They agreed. (I gave them CDs personally to thank them).

Now, here's the catch; For every person that wanted a free CD, they had to fill out a form with their first and last name and email address.

During the show I played that song and announced afterwards that the song was only on a compilation, not a full length album, and I had decided to give out free copies. Well let me tell you that the response was amazing! By the end of the show every CD single had gone. I guarantee that I could have made 300 more and every one would have gone.

The good news? I got 100 e-mail addresses of people who wanted the new CD as soon as it came out.

Conclusion: Free stuff is a great idea in exchange for something useful to you. Is it then free you may ask? Well nothing in life is 100% free is it. In this case an e-mail address is nothing too much to part with.

There is NOTHING more useful to you than a fan's contact data. Build your list slowly and your career will blossom. You can use that e-list to notify fans of your upcoming releases, offer special discounts and let them know when you are in their town on tour.

The other show in Orange county was also significant as I realized the power of personal attention. Many folks came out to see the show as they heard it announced on the radio all week. About 90% of that audience were new to me and after the first set I started thinking, "There are a ton of folks in this club sitting at tables I could be grabbing info from". I was selling and signing CDs in the break and chatting to folks. Luckily, I always carry "Please add your name to our mail list" forms. I decided to walk up to every table with a form and ask them if they would like to get on the list.

Now here's the powerful thing. These folks had just heard a live show which they enjoyed. The fact that I walked up to THEM and introduced myself was extremely flattering to them. It took me a while to get over my shyness but as soon as I decide to do it, it was fine. Only one person I asked told me he didn't want to get on the list. No biggie. Everyone else jumped. I walked away with a another list of potential CD buyers when the new album comes out (May of this year).

Conclusion: Personal attention works like a charm, especially from the artists themselves.

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 at

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