Building a Fan Base: You’re Doing it Wrong

Fans

 

Not to be harsh but, really, this will not net you results. What will? Build real relationships with other musicians you admire. Play gigs with them if your compatible, comparable and on or near the same level in your careers. Or, share ideas. At the very least, get to know them first. Other musicians don’t exist to promote you. Of course, we all appreciate it if you are a musician who likes our music and shares it with your fans. I share the music of musicians I like with my fans because I like them and not because I owe them one for liking my page. That’s not what a fan is. And, trust me, you don’t want fans who are only “fanning” you out of obligation. You want fans who truly admire your work. 

So, go ahead. Introduce yourself. Even invite musicians to listen to your work or tell them about your projects. That’s awesome. But, the above…is just silly. 

Onesheet BAM! Just like that.

One sheet:

In the entertainment industry, a one-sheet or one sheet is a single document
that summarizes a product for publicity and sales

 

Thanks to Madalyn Sklar for posting this link on my Facebook page: http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/07/onesheet-is-about-me-for-bands/

Madalyn never fails to alert me to great stuff on the web for bands.  This time it’s Onesheet. Founder of ArtistData, Brenden Mulligan (@bmull) , has created an easy way to compile all the info about your band into a beautifully simple, virtual onesheet. The beauty of it: you hardly have to do a thing.

It’s like this:

1) Upload a background image

2) Connect your social networks by filling in the blank URLs

3) Save

 

Then:

Onesheet

You can customize color and position if you want to but, otherwise, you’re done. It’s all there! You don’t have to update. It’ll update itself. Sweet! Super easy. 

You know how everyone keeps saying that you need to maintain your Myspace profile because programmers and booking agents want a uniform place to find all your info? Yeah….beat this!

 

ArtistPR Buyer Beware (Time lapse nerd blog)

Update 3/21/14
I think it’s only fair to note that ArtistPR keeps trying to post on this blog and let people know that they are totally legit. Here’s the thing, this is MY experience. It doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience. You know, maybe they hired a really bad service to make their calls. Maybe the 3 or 4 emails I get a year from totally different  ArtistPR reps that are word for word the same (except for the part where they insert a different random song in the blank) are just their way of saying they really, REALLY, love my music. Fine. They want to post their clean record with the Better Business Bureau? Thanks for reminding me that I should have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. This is what I’ve learned since I wrote this blog: you are going to hear about the best PR services because artists you know will be using them and talking about them. The ones that spam you on Reverbnation and email are most likely trying to make a buck by casting a wide net. And, if they are casting a wide net, what are the chances they believe in you as an artist and will really push your music? And, what are the chances they are just trying to make as much money as possible from as many artists as they can get in the net? You decide.
Original post March 23rd, 2011

 

12:15pm

 

Phone rings. Unknown number from San Rafael, CA. That’s the second call this week. I’m in a writing session with Mr. Jake Owen (super-guitarist-songwriter) so, I don’t pick up.

 

1:38pm Central Time

 

I got curious and returned the call from San Rafael, CA. The caller said she was from ArtistPR.com. Here is the skinny:

 

Maybe I submitted to them or maybe I didn’t. I submit to a lot of things. I honestly couldn’t recall whether or not I submitted to be featured on their “artist spotlight” but, they told me I had and that I was chosen.

 

The cost: $2.95 for the week I was to be featured in the “spotlight” (slightly misleading and I’ll explain why in a bit)

 

They would also need a CD and press kit in hand to give to licensors who might inquire about my music.  I told the caller that I would not give my credit card info over the phone and that I wanted to do it myself on the website. She asked if I could do it while we were on the call because she would need the approval code in order to upload me in to “the spotlight”. I said, I would be available to do it in a few hours and she said she’d call me back. (My guard was up since this number had called me twice and hadn’t left a message. Also, the caller sounded like she was reading from a script) 

Well, in the meantime, I went to look for the details on the site. Here they are:

 

1. Charges and Use of Service. You acknowledge that artistmusicpromotion.com offers a free membership with limited access to resource and services. You also aknowledge and agree that if you choose to upgrade your account to a premium membership that you will be billed $2.95 for 5 days then automatically recur every 30 days at $60.00 until you cancel. You can also choose to sign up for $60.00 a month without the $2.95 trial. Both memberships recur at $60.00 very 30 days. The $60 a month provides you access to our premium members area at artistmusicpromotion.com.com/members Each member is provided a unique username and password at the time of signup that allows you access to our premium members area.. The services provided by artistmusicpromotion.com are listed at  artistmusicpromotion.com/signup2.html and artistmusicpromotion.com/signup.html  You can automatically cancel your account 24/7 by going to our cancellation page You can also access this page by clicking here. You can also cancel your account by calling customer service at xxx xxx xxxx and your membership will be canceled within 24 hours.

 

Is that a one time charge of $2.95 for 5 days or $2.95 each day? Also, there was no link on “here” for the cancellation page. The caller said nothing about a recurring charge. So, maybe this wasn’t the deal she was trying to tell me about. I’m waiting for the call back to ask her and will keep you updated. But, right now, I’m thinking that this was a way of selling their upgraded membership. If not, I wish they would have found a more personable, professional caller or at least contacted me by email about my being “selected” before calling. And, if this is how they are trying to get people to opt in to their upgraded membership, bad move. A bit tricksy if you ask me.

 

3:34pm 

 

Oh, no….here we go
So, she calls back and asks me for my credit card number again. I say, “No, I want to do it online”. I ask her if I’m going to have a recurring charge on my credit card. She insists that this is a one time charge. She tells me to go to the following link: http://www.artistpr.com/signup2.html

 

Ahem…

 

This clearly says there is a recurring charge. Does she think I can’t read?

 

Me: “It says that this is for monthly membership.”
Her: “No, it isn’t”
Me: “Yes, that’s what it says!”
Her: “You won’t be charged.”
Me: “You know, thanks for the offer but, no thanks.”
Her: “Ok” hangs up…

 

 

ArtistPR? Not so much…

Social Networking No-No’s: Responses (blog)

I’ve drawn a line…

On one side, people who agree that mass emailing people on Myspace is getting pretty pointless (and annoying). On the other side, people who get all offended that we think it’s annoying. 

But, it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about what’s effective. And, I get it. I mean, if this kind of mass emailing is working for you and it’s translating into tons of people at your shows and sales galore, then, well…I stand corrected. I know that Myspace has been a very effective tool for many musicians. It’s helped me too. And, it’s still important to some radio promoters who say they prefer to listen to bands via Myspace because they always know exactly where to find the music. I just wonder how often they read your emails when they are addressed “Dear, fan”. 

To be fair, it’s not Myspace’s fault that I have to wade through pages of mass emails from bands to get to one person who is actually trying to reach me personally. It’s just that there is no way for me to make a connection this way. So, I’ll put my energy elsewhere and into places where I can better connect with people. 

But, maybe your goal or experience is different. Maybe you’d like to get as high a number of “followers” as you possibly can. Perhaps you’ve heard of all the people who got picked up by record labels and handed all their dreams simply because they had huge numbers. Name them. And, are you sure? I’m willing to bet that most of them did more work for longer than you think they did before they hit it big. Sure, there might be a handful who sprang to fame “overnight” but, of all the millions of musicians out there, do you really want to go with a strategy that equates to getting struck by a bolt of lightning. Believe me, plenty of people want to sell you on the idea that big numbers are your goal. (They are usually the ones selling you a program on how to boost your numbers). I guess I just want to sell you on the idea that good music is your goal. And, I don’t want anyone to lead you astray. 

Think about all the hugely successful musicians who made it because they were simply awesome and don’t stress. Be awesome. The numbers may come slowly at first but, I believe, if you are consistently putting out great music and genuinely connecting with fans, the numbers will follow. Keep the momentum going and they’ll eventually snowball. Have a strong online presence but don’t put your cart before your horse. 

So, anyway, I sent the blog out in a mass email to Myspace. Subject line: Can we all agree this is stupid?

Hypocritical? Absolutely. But, I couldn’t resist. Since I don’t regularly send out mass emails on Myspace about my music, I thought I’d give it a try with my blog and see how many people agreed with me or even bothered to read it. I mean, maybe I was totally off base and missing a gold mine of dedicated followers! I needed to find out. The results were completely mixed. I was actually thinking that everyone that is still active on Myspace would disagree. That was not the case. It was a mixed bag. Several musicians agreed. A couple called me out on the irony of using a mass email to point out the ridiculousness of a mass email. A few were really upset with me and, to my delight, some did just what they always do. Here you go:

Response2Response7Response3Response1ResponseResponse4Response5Response8

 

And, this says so very, very much:

Response10

 

 

Bands: Social Networking No-No’s #2-5

The ridiculousness of adding a bunch of people on Myspace and then treating them like your loyal fans is what has made Myspace a joke. Of all the emails you received from bands on Myspace, how many of them are from bands or musicians that you actually know and like? Chances are, if you’re a band, you’re probably treating all of them like your loyal fans too. If I didn’t know better, I know I would. Why? Because I don’t add people on Myspace. Haven’t in a long time. After I reached so many 1000 friends, Myspace automatically removed my right to approve friend requests and just adds them to my list. The only exception, I believe, is for those who are running paid ‘add’ campaigns. I have to manually approve those and, for the most part, I don’t. Initially, I did this so that I could safely assume that people adding me were fans. But, I can’t assume that at all. They add me and, in the backasswardsness of it all, I’m considered their  fan. 

Can’t we all agree that this is stupid? This was the reason Facebook created fan pages. And, now, bands are trying to bypass that by doing several things that are proving to be HUGE turn-offs to fans and fellow-musicians:

2) Adding you as a personal friend and then bombarding you with excessive event invites and personal email invites to shows. 

That’s a sure fire way to get deleted as a friend or have your events added to the “ignored” list as in “ignore all future invites from this friend?” Um, yes. Do send out invites but, be mindful of how many you send out to the same people or people who aren’t even in your area. You can filter friends by hometown and create lists for different cities. I’ll work on a how-to for that. 

Side note: If someone replies “no” to your event, don’t send them emails telling them it’s their “Last chance…” or “Change your mind….”. Or worse,  if they haven’t replied, don’t send them an email saying “Why haven’t you replied?” . Ugh!  I repeat, people are being bombarded with this stuff. Don’t add to it with your need to have everyone acknowledge you. 

3) Posting their events on your page or tagging you in their videos, pics, wall photos of band flyers so they’ll show up on your wall. 

Oh, no you didn’t! Don’t try and figure out how to make Facebook as “useful” as Myspace was for spreading the word about yourself. That’s not the way it works in other social networks. It’s just obnoxious for bands to post their stuff all over everyone else’s “walls”. Personal pages are for making personal connections! That’s what is important on Facebook. And, don’t get me started on people who post their gigs on other bands fan pages. Unless the musician your tagging is involved in the show: tacky. I even had one person comment on an event link and say “Hey, if you can’t make it to her show, you can go to mine over here…”. Really?!

4) Becoming a fan on any social network and then saying something along the lines of “I’m your fan, now be mine” or “I follow you, now follow me” (which always reminds me of Phil Collins ❤ but, that’s beside the point)

The definition of “fan”: an ardent admirer or devotee. Short for “fanatic”. Call me crazy but, I think, if you want fans, you want people who really like your stuff instead of people who feel obligated to like your stuff because you liked theirs. You can’t make people like your music but, if you are nice, they might support your music even if it’s not their favorite thing in the world. It’s fine to politely invite people to check out your music but, don’t take it personally if they don’t. Let it go and remind yourself that they’ll see what you are doing in their home feeds. If they are going to get interested in your music, they’ll do it as they get to know you. Post a link here or there (not everywhere and not all the time). Suggest your page to them (don’t post it on their wall). 

5) Taking it one ginourmous step further and asking you to do the advertising for them.

I’m not talking about bands asking their fans to help spread the word, I’m talking  about bands saying. “Hello, I like your stuff. Here’s my stuff. Tell all your friends about me.”

Can you imagine this in any other business? “Hey, Wendy’s? This is Billy Bob’s Burgers. Love the  value menu you have going on. We liked you on Facebook and/or follow you on Twitter. Could you tell all your customers to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, come to our restaurant and buy our stuff.”   Huh? I have so many of these…it’s like someone wrote a blog suggesting that musicians should do this. If so, please tell me who. I really want to know. 

And, it’s not even about competition…it’s about honesty. 
I don’t mind promoting other bands and musicians at all! I love doing it. I cross promote with several musicians I work with and some I don’t work with but, just because I love them.  I think it should be this way. We should be helping each other out in ways that make sense. It makes no sense for me to promote people I don’t even know or whose music I don’t like. I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t like my music to support or promote it. That would be silly. And,if you are only promoting someone because they guilted you into it (or, even paid you to do it), you lose credibility. No thanks. 
Now, on Twitter, it’s often customary for people to “follow back” when someone follows you. Musicians, please, don’t take this as an opportunity to address everyone on Twitter as your biggest fan. Big, huge, famous people can do this. You know, those that only follow 10 people but have thousands of followers. In that case, it’s safe to say that most of the people following them are fans. Also, on that note, don’t just follow people to have them follow back and then, stop following to drive your “followed” numbers up. That’s just silly and annoying. Again, social networking is about building relationships not making yourself out to be something you aren’t. 
All that said, go on… THINK BIG!
Be EVERYWHERE.  You should be making it stupid easy for people to find you. 
You are awesome, you are amazing, you are all that and a can of confetti! That in itself will draw people to you.  So, put yourself out there in a big way, just not on top of everyone else. That’s the old way. The playing field is different now. You have to find creative ways of standing out while being part of the music community instead of just trying to step over everyone else in it.  
 – Laura Marie
Next Up: SXSW stuff, the low down on apps used

 

Bands: Social Networking No-No’s #1

In no particular order, really. There are many. But, in the interest of time and space, I’m going to attack them as they come up and their was an onslaught this weekend so, here goes: 

 

No-No Number 1:

Putting people on your email list who have not given you permission to do so. 

Here are a list of reasons you might think give you permission to put someone on your email list. 

1) You are related

2) You went to school or work together

3) You met at a show

4) You have their business card

5) You are connected via social networks 

6) They bought a CD or complimented your music

7) You went to the same conference and your email was listed in the directory

8) You belong to the same club or organization

9) You like their music and think they might be interested in yours

10) You, at one time, corresponded via email about something (who knows what) and they are in your address book. 

If you think these are valid reasons to put someone on your e-mail newsletter list, sorry, wrong. The only one that comes close would be # 6 IF they bought your CD online. But, no. The most appropriate thing would be a follow up email thanking them for their purchase and giving them the option to opt into your list but not actually putting them on it until you have their say so.

“But, then my list won’t be as big!” No, no it won’t but, your list is best when it’s targeted to your most loyal fans and even they won’t read everything you put out. And, it’s not just an issue of quality over quantity, it’s an issue of not getting into that dreaded SPAM ZONE. I can’t tell you the number of bands…um… AND BUSINESSES…who put me on their list without permission and now, the biggest thing I remember about them is that they are annoying. Hey, as a musician, if someone labels me as annoying I want it to be because they honestly gave me a shot and found me annoying, then decided to opt out. 🙂

“WTH? Who died and made you Ms. Manners?” No one, really, as far as I know. I say this as a musician and as a fan of musicians whose mailing lists I’m already purposely on. You do yourself NO FAVORS by putting people on your list who never asked to be there. It works against you. There is so much spam out there that I can’t imagine anyone opening up an unsolicited email each day, week or month from a band they know nothing about and saying, “Who’s this? Well, that was thoughtful!”. Trust me, you already have people who opted onto your lists who 1) delete your email as soon as they see it, 2) want to opt out but know you well and don’t want to hurt your feelings 3) forgot that they opted in at all and will mark you as spam next time your email is in their inbox 4) opted in for whatever you were giving away for free to signup but don’t really care what you’re up to.  

So, what are your options: ASK! If someone compliments your music at a show or anywhere say, “Can I put you on the list so I can keep in touch?”, “Can I put you on the list so you’ll be eligible for free giveaways?” or “Get on the email list so I can let you know when I’m playing near you!” Ask people to sign up at your shows, make it easy for them to do so in person and online (Yeah, yeah, Margaret…I know what you’re thinking  —  Sometimes, even I forget), then,  email them asap with a ‘welcome to the list email’ so they don’t forget they opted in. 

Recap!

The guideline: The word “YES” or “Put me on your list!” to any of the above offers to put someone on your list. 

The goal: STAY OUT OF THE SPAM ZONE

For the love of Daphne, please repost this for bands and businesses. 

 

Next blog up: Accepting credit cards for merch sales! It just got easier 😉

 

 – LM