In the Internet Age, it is essential for bands to talk to their fans. (the
sophisticated douchey business term for this is “engagement”)
Gone are the days when you could be the “enigmatic rock stars” who only peeped their heads out from behind the curtain once every couple years. Nowadays, it’s a two-way street, hence why you need to be as good at Facebook/Twitter/YouTube as you are at guitar/bass/drums.
A strong fanbase can work wonders for you. Oftentimes, you can do more with a small but dedicated number of fans than “bigger” artists can do with a large-but-casual following. Fans will be more likely to help chip into your Kickstarter campaign (where niche-punk rocker Amanda Palmer just raised $750,000) or help you out while you’re on the road if you’ve taken the extra time to actually, you know, give a fuck about them.
On that note, check out this mini-doc called FanCulture: The Evolution of Influence, made by the folks at digital marketing agency Amplify. FanCulture delves into the importance and how-to’s of creating die-hard, lifelong fans for your
brand band. (Amplify have done precisely that for brands like Converse, PlayStation, and Heineken)
And in case you need it, here’s a good breakdown of FanCulture by Clyde at Hypebot in a more music-oriented context:
True fans give more to bands but also expect more. Often this expectation can be fulfilled through honest dialogue as well as rewards for superfans in the form of interaction and recognition from featuring fans in one’s marketing campaigns to making fans the stars on one’s blog or social media account.
Serious fans want to be part of the process. That might mean giving them opportunities to choose their own album tracklist, as did Kaiser Chiefs, or have input into a concert playlist, as does Umphrey McGee.
Just because somebody Likes your Facebook page doesn’t mean they’re a fan. As one marketer put it, clicking like is more like a “grunt of acknowledgement” in a conversation. Take it as an invitation to engage but recognize that focusing on one’s Like count is the opposite of building a deep affinity with one’s fans.
Remember: If you wanna make a living off music, you need to treat your band like a business.
And your fans keep you in business — so, don’t neglect them!