Turning Fickle Fans into Friends

Just got off the weekly skype call with one of our artists – Drastic Jo – she has a release scheduled for November 13 and we’re busy developing the direct to fan marketing plan.

Typically one of the most important parts of such a plan is the acquisition stage – this is where you set up the digital platform in order to reap as many email addresses, Twitter followers, Facebook and MySpace friends as possible. Figures show that the more people you have on your “lists’ the more dough you make.

However, over recent months there has been a lot of discussion around the importance of developing a deeper relationship between the artist and their existing fans. Having been out and about this week, it was interesting to hear one established management firm state that “Fans suck – it’s all about Friends” – and he wasn’t talking about the digital ones.

With the exploding number of bands and tracks now being marketed to the same audience – an artist not only has to grow new fans and convert them to friends, she has to look after her existing friends in order not to lose them to a competing artist.

Current Direct to Fan marketing is still based around a traditional release date – it makes sense on many different levels; having a specific event and a date allows both artist and fan to focus on each other at the same time. How then does the artist engage the fan and deepen that relationship outside the period of a specific release?

There’s a longer post brewing here – but here’s the short version.

Up until recently the people behind the music were strange mysterious creatures – beings that had this amazing ability to create stuff that changed our lives and made us feel. We assumed that ‘cos we liked their music we would like them – prior to the last decade the only exposure we had to artists were either on stage or through corporate controlled media channels.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder - though we had their music in our heads every day – the artists themselves were distant figures and we loved them. Compare that to nowadays: bands are encouraged to Twitter their every move – it’s hard to distinguish between your favorite artist and your favorite social media douche.

As the dust settles on the new music marketing revolution one thing is clear – artist’s lives are no more interesting than yours – and considerably less interesting than your immediate friends. If absence made the heart grow fonder then familiarity clearly breeds contempt – just ask John Mayer.

The only reason I am interested in an artist is because they create music – or in Jo’s case not just music but killer art as well. Once I’m beyond the initial rush of having complete access to who they are, the only time I want them to push out to me is when they have something new.

We think artists and bands need to think about how they release their music. We think a combination of specific release date combined with a monthly release of individual tracks allows for dedicated acquisition planning as well as looking after and deepening the relationship with existing fans.

Things have changed – no shit – but things are changing faster than the experts can write about it. A fan will move onto the next new thing – the next free download – the next photo opp or scandal. A friend will stay with you, will open your email, will come to a show and bring a friend. If your marketing plan purely deals with getting fans, you might want to hang on to your day job.

Photo Credit: The Explosion in the Alchemist’s Laboratory, Justus Gustav van Bentum - Chemical Heritage Foundation, Flickr

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