Lisa Sniderman from Aoede is one of my past clients and for the past few months I had wanted to interview about her experience and growth using social networking to grow her fanbase. Well we were finally able to make it happen. I felt it was important to have artists say all of this, sometimes hearing it from a peer carries more weight. So take a couple minutes and read about how Lisa went from essentially zero to social networking wiz and grew her fanbase over the last 10 months.
Lisa set the wayback machine to December of 2010 when we first talked. You were a couple months away from releasing your most recent album Affair With The Muse and hired me to help you with your website and online marketing efforts. Your online world at that time was fairly small; less than 1000 on your email list, a handful of Facebook fans, less than 100 Twitter followers. We talked about what you would need to do to grow your fans, how you would have to spend time engaging with everyone on Facebook and Twitter, how you would have to write articles to post on your new blog, and how you had to open up and talk about yourself personally more than you talk about the new album. I remember at the time you said you were not sure you could do all of this, that you didn’t know if you had the time. But, you forged ahead.
Now not even a year later and looking back - what do you think about that journey?
Wow Michael – it’s like you gave me social network “seeds” to plant in the Internet “dirt” in December 2010. I planted several of them: Facebook, Twitter, my blog, and then ReverbNation (and YouTube to some extent), “watered” and tended to them daily, and over time watched their roots take hold, and now these beautiful, virtual “social flowers” are growing and are continuing to thrive. I believe, though, it is only by tending to them regularly-in my case daily-that they will continue to thrive. I’m most amazed by the connections I have made on all of these different networks. Sometimes it starts with someone responding to one of my inane posts on Twitter, or a fan on ReverbNation who has heard my music and wants to reach out and tell me the impact the music had on him, or a simple response to a silly sign I posted on Facebook.
These kinds of interactions can create new friendships and build long-lasting and direct relationships with fans.
The people I am meeting in the online community are just as “real” as the people I actually do meet. For me, being home a lot, I love connecting with online communities. It also helps me to not feel isolated.
I never even imagined receiving the kind of feedback I’ve received online. I’ve heard from new and old friends that are connecting through the Dermatomyositis writings and sharing their stories. I’ve received countless messages and comments that the songs and video and website are amazing. I’ve been on friends FB pages and seen them sharing my videos, or most recently, my nomination for AIM Awards! Thanks to my fans, Aoede even hit #1 on Hot Pop on ReverbNation for a few days in February, then climbed the charts locally and nationally and is currently #2 for SF Pop…
Even with all those signs from the universe, it took receiving a particularly humbling and stunning FAN mail from a fellow musician to realize what an impact I was having. In it he writes, “Very few artists make me sit back and say the world is a better place with them making music in it. You Are one of those artists.” Another fan sent me a message on Twitter indicating my life, music and heart and soul gave her hope and strength to do what she needed to do… MY GOD! Talk about impact! It dawned on me that the music is secondary.
Maybe nobody really cares about the music until and unless they have a relationship with you.
Here are a few examples of how some simple Twitter and ReverbNation messages led to some amazing opportunities and directions such as radio shows, features, fan blog posts and reviews, airplay and more!
- After following me on twitter, and likely in response to one of my inane posts on useless facts, blue laws, puns or wordplay, Billy Kay, a talented Country artist and wonderful soul, contacted me via twitter to ask if I would like to participate in his Country For a Cause project, including donating one of my tracks for the CD. All of the proceeds will go to help a wonderful cause-Shade Tree Shelter for abused women and children in Las Vegas.
Winner of Music Contest to Pitch an Original Song to a Brand
- Primarily through the support of online communities, Aoede won a music contest by pitching an animated video of Love Proof to Apple, winning the popular vote and some prize $$
Spark For New Song-Perfect Day
- When I did go “public” about my condition, Dermatomyositis, and start blogging, writing my monthly Dermatowhat?? posts and interacting with the online communities, it’s as if I started attracting the very people who needed the “light”-some with my condition who wanted to tell their stories, but also others! The perfect example: I received a message from a new music fan from Belgium via RN in June. He knew nothing of my condition but was completely open and honest about his-a progressive muscle dystrofie where he has been on a breathing machine in bed 24 hours a day and not outside in open air since 2009, requiring assistance for everything. Despite this he is a music fanatic, co-webmaster of an orchestra and loves ships and ship spotting. When I first read his story, it brought me to tears. Then my muse immediately started flowing and out came a new song: Perfect Day. I wrote this song for him, imagining the world through his lens, but I realized afterwards it was also the first time I had let myself feel in song what I had gone through-my own limitations. This song has been recorded, is now being mixed and will be included on my next album.
Speaking/Performance at Myositis Association Conference
- After getting in touch with the Myositis Association and sending my press release back in February 2011, I was later asked to speak and perform at the annual Myositis Conference Sept 2011, which I did! It was my first public appearance in over a year. I was also asked to do a feature for their upcoming newsletter.
- I was contacted by an online magazine, Independent Music and Media, via ReverbNation and asked to do a cover/full feature/interview on Aoede in June 2011, a 2 part spread, which ran for a few months.
- I was recently nominated for All Indie Music Awards Best Singer/Songwriter and Best Folk/Acoustic Artist!
How did you manage the time commitments?
In the beginning, it was a lot of energy-more than I had as I was only a few months out the hospital and recovering and still doing intensive treatments-it was part of my therapy to focus on the music-part of my healing path I believe. I just incorporated it into each day as I did my physical therapy or exercise.
It is still time intensive now-I read and respond to messages daily on RN and post daily on Twitter and Facebook, but I feel the time invested connecting with fans and building relationships is valuable time. I find that I focus on 3 main areas: humor, music and health. I like to find puns and strange signs and post them because humor is important to me-I like to laugh and make others laugh every day so the time spent is therapeutic!
Topics Focused On:
Humor, Music, Health
What tactics did you find worked best on Facebook?
On Facebook, I find being myself and showing up to the page works best-I ask Aoede’s Question-o-d-Day, I post pictures of things that I find interesting or strange, I post my Daily Muse-an inspirational quote, and post other stuff related to Aoede. I find that people seem to like to interact with each other on the page.
What tactics do you use on Twitter?
Again, just being myself. I like wordplay, useless facts, puns, phrase origins and just connecting with people-responding to messages, posts, acknowledging others -just interacting generally more than “selling.” I do post related to music, but more often through re-tweeting what someone else has said. Being genuine is important to me, as is connecting with my followers. Also, when you posted Aoede’s 7 Tips Save Your Next Video on your blog and Music Think Tank, I noticed an opportunity to engage with those people who retweeted and was able to get followers and more engagement from the blog post.
What hurdles did you encounter over the last year?
For me, I am not in the public performing or touring lately. I am focused mostly on writing, recording and licensing and placements for film and TV, so my biggest hurdle is how do I continue to keep the songwriter’s dream alive, and expand my fan base?
Social networking for me has been very effective for finding new fans and building relationships.
The hurdle is that it takes a lot of time on each of these networks, as well as my own blog, to be effective and engage with fans, respond to emails, find new fans, and continue to write or play music. The ideal would be a balance of online time vs. creative play. Most days I spend more time online than play, but do feel it is a worthy investment. Also, I shot a music video in January expecting completion and release in March, to coincide with Fairy Tale Love on Affair with the Muse. This video is still being completed so I haven’t released “product” since March 2011. My next release will be my album in 2012. Being online and accessible, engaging with fans, takes some of the burden off of me to just focus on releasing and selling “products.”
Also, sales has been a hurdle. I think it is so difficult as an indie artist to rely on digital sales income-indie artists don’t have the name recognition that Adele or Lady Gaga does. I am looking to licensing to supplement and will also consider a Kickstarter campaign to help fund/pre-sell the new album. My goal for the past year was to expand the fan base. Now that that is happening, I can start identifying ways the fan base can help support.
Have you seen your relationship with your fans change over the last year?
Absolutely! Whereas I really was only engaging with fans through my newsletter and email before, now I engage with fans through all these networks, newsletter, email and through my website as well. It means that people have access to me in many different ways than before-e.g., they can ask questions (we do an Ask The Muse segment in which we video a fan’s question and Aoede’s response to it-done with some humor), leave comments, or engage directly with me through messages or posts. I am finding more people want to engage, want to get to know me. Some artists and fans of them want to know my story, are interested in telling their stories. Others just hear my music and want to tell me how it has had an impact on them. Some want to get to know the muse behind the music and actually develop a relationship with me. I’ve even had some fans thank me for responding, as apparently some artists don’t make time to respond with even a simple thank you, or ask how they are doing every once in awhile. It’s the simple things that artists can do that seem to go a long way in the fan’s eyes. I do a weekly acknowledgment for my fans who have left comments for me on my networks, mostly on RN, through a blog post called Aoede’s Angels. It’s a gesture to publicly acknowledge the fans and artists who support me. On Facebook, I really feel like I’m developing an online community of folks who want to “play” and to actively engage with me. They really don’t want to keep hearing “buy my cd!” over and over… and that’s not the message I want to send either…
If you sat down with an artist that is new to using the social networks to meet and talk to their fans… what would you tell them? How would you help them to see the light, the importance of spending time online?
I would probably emphasize their significance by using my own story as an example. I am an artist who gigged a few times a month regularly for the past four or five years; so I was in the public and able to meet people, do a few tours to promote my albums, and grow my mailing list slowly. I did have an EP (Ear Candy) out in 2006 and an album out in 2008 (Push and Pull) and available digitally, but I wasn’t focusing on heavily promoting them or on social networking and active fan engagement except for my monthly newsletter and responding to fans through e-mail. Once my health forced me to stop gigging regularly, I still wanted to connect and engage fans and that’s why I plunged head first into the world of social networking in early 2011, coinciding with the release of my new website, a new music video for “I Lost, You Win,” and the release of Affair with the Muse. As I noted,
Social networking isn’t the kind of thing that you dabble in once or twice and then forget about and expect it to grow on its own.
It takes tending, nurturing, commitment to keep it growing. It usually doesn’t happen overnight (unless you are Charlie Sheen status and immediately find yourself with 1 million plus twitter followers ). I think I am in an unusual place because I do have the time (not always the energy!) to invest now. For an artist just beginning, I would say decide which social network you want to focus most on and spend time growing that. I would definitely recommend Facebook, ReverbNation and Twitter as great places to make connections. On Twitter, follow and engage those musicians who compel you, who you are influenced by, and whose listeners might like your music too. Engage listeners. My aha came from the realization that my music immediately compelled someone-other artists and fans alike-to reach out to me-to want to make a connection. I didn’t know there was an entire virtual world of people who might feel the same way until I reached out first and made this discovery!
MY STATS AS OF TODAY:
On REVERBNATION: Fans: 10,003
On FACEBOOK: 1414
On TWITTER: 2250
Posted By: Michael Brandvold (Michael is a 20 year music marketing veteran who has worked with unsigned indie bands and international superstars. Michael owns Michael Brandvold Marketing a site dedicated to providing tips and advice for musicians.)