There is no doubt about it; social media has taken the sweet and innocent fan, and has created a monster.
A transparency-seeking, interactivity-craving, empowerment-hungry monster.
Ok so maybe fans aren’t these terrible things that goes bump in the night, but the point remains the same. Today’s fans desire something more than just music and the occasional Facebook or Twitter update.
Today’s fans desire an experience!
But creating this experience can be a bit tricky. It has to cater directly to the needs and desires of YOUR fans, or else you run the driving them away.
In short, failing to give the fans what they want is failing to establish an emotional connection with them. A strong emotional bond with fans means a more dedicated fan base, which will directly translate to a stronger internet presence and an increased level of sales (album/ track, ticket, merch, etc.).
So of course, in order for you to cater directly to the needs of your fans, you need to understand a few things about your fans first:
- Where do your fans spend their time online?
- Which aspects of yourself are fans most enamored with (i.e. studio recorded music, the live performance, music videos, social media presence)?
- What do your fans want MORE of (music, videos, personal updates, merch)?
Once you have a good grasp of who your fans are and what they are looking for, you are ready to begin planning out all of the different ways that you can turn ‘being a fan’ of your music into an experience.
The following are some examples of how you can turn many of different aspects of your career into an experience for your fans:
Audience Participation During Live Performance
Once you have the fans at your show, you’ve got a great opportunity to give your fans an interactive experience that will be sure to stick with them for days after the show has ended.
This is the key to repeat attendance and increased ticket sales.
There are tons of ways that artists in the past have empowered their fans to participate and become a part of the performance that you can consider.
Cake - ‘No Phone’ (live) - Call and Response
During the song ‘No Phone’, Cake frontman John McCrea brings the band down and calls the audience to action, by splitting up the men and the women of the audience to sing different parts of the chorus line:
(skip ahead to 4:00 to see the example)
Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) - Drum Solo - Duel with Fan
During the taping of Dream Theaters’ DVD Live at Budokan, drummer Mike Portnoy took to the audience to have a dueling drum solo with a fan.
(again, skip ahead to 4:00 to see the example)
Fan Submission Driven Music Videos
Creating a unique, inexpensive music video is an effective way to increasing the branding of yourself or your band, further developing your image. Not only does a music video refresh the same music that your fans have already grown to know and love, but it is a foot in the door at many music blogs that focus on music videos as opposed to streaming music.
But a music video is not just a great branding tool. It is also another opportunity for you to empower your fans to make the video for you by submitting their own photos and video footage for you to use. Not only is this an extremely inexpensive way to make a music video, but it ultimately allows your fans to appear in your music video… and if you’re a fan, there is nothing cooler than that!
Below is a fan submission driven music video that started just with the band taking videos of themselves in different positions. The band then uploaded the video and asked their fans to replicate the positions to be submitted and embedded into the video by the band. The result is an extremely entertaining video containing more than 24,000 fan submitting photographs and video clips.
LET THE FANS DECIDE
Social media has made all sorts of fan-driven contests more accessible than ever before. Creating a contest surrounding upcoming official releases from the band is a great way to not only engage your fan base, but can be an incredibly powerful way to empower your fans. Not only does it help fans feel as though their voices are being heard, but it gives them the opportunity to become a part of the band history, with the potential of turning something they created into an official release from the band.
Of course, for these contests to be successful, you do have to already have a fan base that is connected with you online. With that said, here are a few different contest ideas:
- Merch (T-Shirt)
- Album Cover
- Band Logo
And permitting that you have a strong enough fan base, you could take this one step further by giving your fan base the opportunity to vote on which one wins. This will completely take the control out of your hands, which may result in some not so great designs, but is an ultimate way to empower your fan base… and they will appreciate you more for that.
Fans Pick The Music To Cover
In the early 90’s, Phish set in motion the idea to cover an entire album of someone else’s music on Halloween. Since then, they have covered albums like the Beatles’ White Album, The Who’s Quadrophenia, The Talking Heads’ Remain In Light and most recently, Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus. This concept has since become popularly used by many bands on Halloween, and some have even taken it a step further by allowing the fans to vote for the album.
Giving your fans the opportunity to weigh in and determine which songs you cover is an excellent way to not only empower them to make decisions for you, but it is a great way for you to get to know your fans better, by understanding their music preferences. And as discussed many times before… knowing your fans is the first and most important step to making your fan base as a whole happy and more loyal.
Fans Pick The Tracklist
There is no question that we are living (or surviving) in a time when the album as a format has become less intriguing, with access to digital music becoming far more important. But there is no reason that an album cannot be a successful method of releasing new music.
In an attempt to engage their existing fanbase, meanwhile stimulating some new potential fans to check out their music, Devo recently allowed their fans to pick the final tracklist for their next studio album. Through an interactive website (not a necessity, but when you’ve got money like Devo, why not?), the band listed 16 tracks and let their fans pick which 10 songs would make the final cut.
There is no better way to make an album appealing to your fan base than by empowering them to become apart of the decision making process. It gives the fans what they want, and again, allows you to better understand your the preferences of your fans.
TRY THIS: Allowing your fans to pick the tracklist is great, but give them even more incentive to do so! Give fans an incentive to partake, by offering up the additional unreleased tracks as a free EP.
Fans Pick The Setlist For Live Show
By using either Poll Daddy or Survey Monkey, you can create a simple (and embeddable) survey that allows you to give your fans the ability to pick all of the songs for your next setlist. Your fans will get the thrill of taking control of your next show and is a great way to stir a bit of buzz online.
When creating the survey, make sure that you pick the ‘multiple choice questions’ option. This will allow you to maintain control of the overall setlist, with all of the peaks and valleys in their proper places, but still gives the fans the control over which songs make those memorable moments come to fruition.
Below is an example of a ‘You Pick The Songs’ survey using Poll Daddy:
In a time when social media has made it easier for you to connect with your fans then ever before, why stop there? There are literally an endless amount of opportunities for you to take the aspects of your music career that your fans already love and turn them into an interactive experience. Empower your fans to become apart of the action rather than just acting as a spectator from the sidelines, and watch your fan base grow into a living, breathing movement surrounding your music.
[image credit: randomduck]