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Do It Yourself: Mechanics or motivation?

I like to say “‘Do it yourself’ doesn’t mean ‘do it alone’” when I’m talking to creative artists working to put all the pieces of their digital strategy together in today’s post-label music business. Sometime I get crazy looks, but what I mean is that the “DIY” movement is more about the motivation than the mechanics of literally doing everything by yourself.

Show Me the Emails!

At the very core of the DIY ethos is the concept that you are free to do what you want and maintain full control over your own affairs. Effectively, that means your motivation is to play your music and find people who like it, without interference from outside corporate interests.

Therefore, it doesn’t really matter how many people are on your team … as long as it is your team. DIY means your intention is to remain independently connected to your fans. 

Community or Commodity?

The moment you let a record label, app or web platform control the relationship with your fans is the moment you stopped being a DIY band. That’s when you became a sellout. That’s when you’ve given upon agency and relegated the leadership of your fanbase to a capitalist suit who puts money above community. 

As you develop your own fanbase strategy do some research to learn which tools facilitate direct relationships with your fans and which ones get in the way. Next month we will cover the basic steps of converting your social followers into a serious opt-in fanbase complete with addresses, emails and phone numbers. 

John Lilly heads up artist relations and fanbase development for Los Angeles-based - He can be reached at (415) 912-9815 or via

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