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Basic Marketing Principles For Artists - Part 2: Increasing the Frequency of Purchases

The first piece in this series focused on increasing the amount of fans and how this is a necessary step towards success. Part 2 of the basic three principles is increasing the frequency of purchases.

The cornerstone of this is simple: You can not only sell music.
In order to get the frequency of purchases up you must provide something that actually gets your fans to buy more frequently.

If you are only selling one album or one set of MP3s, it’s pretty near impossible to get this step accomplished because your core fans will only have one thing to buy (therefore making frequency non-existent).

Billboard recently reported that over 2,500 record stores have closed in the US since 2005. This points out to one very clear conclusion: People are buying fewer CDs (of course we already knew this) but think about it –

Are you only selling music?

I sadly see this all too often. Artists work very hard to put out a great CD, and of course the music is the cornerstone of your brand but to survive and thrive in this industry where music is widely distributed for free online, you must create additional products and offerings to sell.

Remember not to put the cart before the horse here, But if you don’t have a fan base to sell these things to, there’s no reason to build a series of products. So, at the same time you must be building a two-way conversation with engaged fans and building more trust. This is where Social Media comes in.

Survey Your Fans
Expert Internet marketers never release products without testing the demand first. You may think you know what your fans want but they might surprise you.

Understanding who they are and what they like/ want is therefore critical.

Internet Marketers always ask their core fan group what it is they would like and then they create products and offerings based on their answers.

I have said this may times – that music is a feeling and it’s hard to market a feeling but as Terry McBride points out music acts as social glue that holds us together emotionally and in groups and brands and products can always be sold to groups.

So it’s hard to get your fans to give you input on your songwriting - that is your personal journey and your preference but it is EASY to get them to tell you what they like and want to buy.

Is it girlie T’s?

Yoga mats

Special non-leaching water bottles

Limited edition T-Shirts

Extra think hoodies

If you don’t ask them they wont tell you

Set up a survey online and use your email newsletter list or Facebook page to get fans to tell you what they may buy from you in the future. There are many free tools that will help you track your survey results. I like Survey Monkey This services allows you to create a survey that you can send out to your fans to ask them specifically what they might like to buy from you and how much they are willing to pay.

Then make it and they will!

Brilliant Artist Merchandise
I have run into some great merch ideas over the last year.

Here are some great merch ideas to get you inspired

John Taglieri, who I talk about often has a marvelous new series of EPs and books called Lives. This new project will consist of four 6-song EP’s, books & graphic novels, as well as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and blogger accounts for the two main characters.

Family Force 5 created a limited edition T-shirt of the month club. They offered their fans a new T-shirt every single month and it generated thousands of extra dollars for themselves and their fans loved the limited edition shirts.

Will Deynes made a Valentine’s Day song, and he would custom record the name of people’s beloved’s right into the song. He sold dozens of them to his fan base at Valentine’s Day.

I met Shelter with Thieves, from Halifax, NS and they gave me an awesome USB drive full of music and special bonuses like artwork and videos, and it’s wonderful because fans can use the USB drive for school projects or at work.

Jen Chapin, being environmentally conscious and clear that her fans are too like purchased a few cases of SIGG Water bottles and had them customized. She sent an e-mail to her entire list that she had wonderful, non-leaching, water bottles for sale and she ended up selling many of them

Carla Lynne Hall is organizing a Bowling Tweetup at The Harlem Lanes near her home just to hang out with friends and fans and bond. He is not selling merch yet but you can be sure that when it comes time for her to sell that extra time she took to make friends with her fans will pay off. Studies show that people purchase from those they like and trust and Carla is building trust.

and lastly I want to mention subscription based websites and fan clubs.

Matthew Ebel & Ari Hest are two great examples to look at

Matthew has a site that gives fans live recordings, new music, ringtones, videos, exclusive invitations.


Ari Hest released a song every single week for a year then he let the fans vote for the best ones to put on his album which he cleverly named Twelve Mondays

Wat are you ding to inspire your fans to incresae the frequency?


I would love to hear….

Reader Comments (4)

Hey Ariel, great article. I feel it is very important to let artists know that they are both Musicians and Marketers.

You said that one of the basic principles is in the frequency of sales. I have something to add to that. Psychologically, it is possible to create a mental equivalent of sale in a Fan's mind without requiring them to purchase anything at first. For example, offering product prerequisites. By offering a product prerequisite, an Artist can engage the fan in a way that will build trust, but not break the fan's wallet. What better way to build a Fan's trust then by telling them to assist the Artist by simply telling their friend about the Music and getting 1 free MP3 download to share?

What is happening Psychologically? The Fan's perception of the entire sale process is changing. The actual process of the Fan telling their friend about the Artist and receiving a free MP3 is actually a sale in of itself. By asking the Fan to do something simple and more importantly, free - the Artist has began their first sale in their frequency process.

Back to what you were saying; Frequency. By offering a free product prerequisite, such as the telling of a fan to a friend, you're establishing a sale connection which will start the frequency process and also build an enormous amount of trust between the Fan and artist.

What is the best way to make someone open up their wallet? By making them open up the wallet in their mind without opening up their physical wallet - after that, the Fan will not hesitate to open up their physical wallet because the Fan and Artist have established trust.

Product Prerequisites work, they separate the pros from the con.

I also liked your point about Surveying the Fans - it brings up a great point.

Will a Classical Music Fan purchase a Bandanna with Beethoven's face on it to represent their love for the Music? No, more than likely. Artists need to understand the genius of marketing but they also need to understand the power of branding, especially with their Merchandise.

John Taglieri, Family Force 5, Will Deynes, Shelter with Thieves, and Jen Chapin partially understand branding and how it relates to their fans but even they are still working with some fairly generic products. Fans buy music for two reasons.

One is for self stimulation, and the other is to display their traits to their peers, family, and potential mates - society - why? The music they listen to reveals to other people what their personalities are like without them having to openly communicate it in a conversation. The same way driving a BMW communicates power, intellect, and wealth - specific music displays its own traits about the Fan.

The fan is saying, "Look at me and the Music I listen to - This is what it says about me." Where does Merchandise come in? Good question. As I said before, Beethoven fans won't typically buy bandannas but they will buy coffee mugs which say, "I'm typically busy, basically conscientiousness and I have some General Intelligence."

The Marketer's behind Miley Cyrus know what they are doing; her branding is impeccable - so is Nine Inch Nails.

It is easy to make frequent sales once you understand what traits your Fans are trying to display using your Merchandise, Tee shirts won't work for everyone.

Hey All

thanks so much. So many great tips, for amateur starting out artists like me to seasoned professionals. Keep it up!

June 20 | Unregistered Commentergaiagangster

Good post. My favorite is the guy who customizes his Valentine's Day song. That, to me, is what's cool about technology. We can do amazing things with it when we think outside the box.

Here's my all time favorite example of a musician thinking outside the box to make more money. You might not have the same status to pull this off the same way, but if you're a creative person then this should expand you mind and inspire some new ideas:

- And Ibrahim - I think you're right on the money about the reasons why people buy music. A lot of people miss this.

June 24 | Unregistered CommenterScott James

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