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Monday
Aug302010

Why You Should Learn to Build Fans by Being a Fan

As musicians, it’s almost guaranteed that at some point you will have said or at least thought “I need more fans!”, and while there are countless blogs, resources, and gig slots open for you to act on that, I often feel that the best way to learn why someone does something is to be that someone – or as they say “take a step into their shoes”.

So I thought I would apply that theory to building fans and work out why I recently became a loyal fan of the artist Jason Mraz – what was the psychology and marketing that really made me warm to not just his music, but him as a artist (or brand).

I wanted to know how I went from being just aware of his hit single ‘I’m Yours’ to downloading albums of tracks, checking out his videos and tour dates - what steps did I go through as a fan, and what breadcrumbs did he leave online to turn me into a fan? 

It’s worth noting that I first heard ‘I’m yours’ in Summer 2009, yet only recently became a fan of his - what was my hold up? Here’s what I think happened.

This is How I Became a Fan of Jason Mraz

Here is my recollection of how Jason Mraz made me a fan of his split into seven steps.

Step 1
– I first heard of Jason Mraz when I was driving along the south coast of the United Kingdom in the summer of 2009 when he released ‘I’m Yours’. Since then i’ve always associated his music with a nice summer vibe, but after that summer I didn’t become a fan for another 12 months or so..

Step 2
– One day when I was in the office trying to find more chilled out acoustic music that I enjoy and I decided to add a whole album of Jason Mraz to my Spotify playlist, thinking there may be a few decent tracks on there.

Step 3
– Over the weeks I start to notice a few songs of his that caught my attention and that I actually prefer to the original hit he released, but more importantly I realised that l liked all of his songs.

Step 4
– So now I’m at home with one of these songs stuck in my head and I go on my computer. Because I don’t have Spotify installed at home I go on to Youtube and because I’m comfortable that I will like all Jason Mraz songs I search for ‘Jason Mraz Playlist’ and stick a video playlist on in the background, of course I catch a glimpse to some of the videos – in particular the ones where there’s no music, just him talking.

Step 5
– I subconsciously take in what Jason Mraz is saying during the interviews and start to learn more about Jason’s personality and I begin to connect with his brand of being a non-materialistic and genuinely funny guy – which is a very likeable style.

Step 6
– I start to watch more videos, and learn more about his music until I finally decide to visit his official website to find out if he’s touring in the U.K anytime soon. Expecting a very bland list of dates and venues I am pleasantly serenaded by a hilarious background song that Jason sings about his tour webpage! (At this point i’m very impressed)

Step 7
– I am so impressed and happy as a fan of his that I start to tell my friends about his music, share his songs and well, write this blog post!

How I got to Know Jason Mraz

I believe that the biggest transition in the seven steps above from being interested in Jason Mraz’s music to being a loyal fan was step 5 where I started being exposed to his personality through videos. Here is the best example of a video that really shows how Jason talks to his fans, and invites them into his personality – whilst maintaining the highest of performing standards.

How can you make your fans fall in love you?

  • Be yourself – Most people despise a fake personality and can smell it a mile off, be your self and people will appreciate that.
  • Be transparent – don’t hide the fact that you’re a small local band if that’s what you are – if you’re honest and likeable then your fans will be more inclined to help you get to the next step.
  • Be professional but not too serious – After all, life’s too short for being too serious and worrying about everything, have fun but remain professional.
  • Leave breadcrumbs everywhere – better yet, leave breadcrumbs that show off the points above and give your fans a good reason to love you. Remember not all fans react to the same mediums as strongly so keep producing images, videos, and text content to bait them.
And finally good luck :) - I acknowledge that there are obviously thousands of ways to build fans, but I hope this has been helpful and showed the value of actually tracking your footsteps and reading the effects of music marketing from the fans perspective.
Image Credit: Photofmdotcom

Marcus Taylor is the founder of The Musician’s Guide, a music marketing start-up based in Oxford, United Kingdom. If you want to contact Marcus you can fire over a question on Twitter, or on Email.

Reader Comments (17)

Great article and so very true. I'm re-tweeting and posting it on Facebook and linking from one of my blogs. I could not agree more!

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

I agree with Robin. Great article. I'm going to RT as well.

August 30 | Registered CommenterKelly Greene

I really like this article. I should start taking notes next time I become a fan of a new artist.

The last artist I remember being transfixed by is Lotte Kestner. & I recollect something like a fan of mine who knew I liked gothicana singer-songwriter Sarah June sending me a link to Lottek Kestner's MySpace page. I couldn't get the songs out of my head & got the disc a couple days later. But obviously I'd be better off writing/telling a story from a day in the past instead of six months in the past.

I think maybe an idea for a follow-up article might be something about bands that you wanted to like but didn't make the transition. My example for this is Bambi & The Tin Man. I heard their track "Sugarshot" on a podcast that had played some of my music (about two weeks ago) & I really liked their bizarre lo-fi take on 1960s pop so I went to check out their other tracks on MySpace. Only three tracks to listen to? The other two songs didn't do anything for me. So maybe I only like that "Sugarshot" sounds like "Just Call Me Angel in the Morning." If I'd heard two songs I was into or if their video had been for the song I see as a single, it would be easier for me to get behind them. As it is, unless I hear another song from them that blows me away, I'll have forgotten all about them in the next month....

This is some of the best advice on customer acquisition from a point of view of a musician I have ever read online. Great stuff!

Cheers
Patrick

Hey guys - thanks so much for the really nice comments, I'm really glad you found the article useful :)

Marcus

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Taylor

If your music is representative of simple human honesty, be simple, honest, and human. If your music is representative of something more complex, or darker, or bigger, or louder, or smaller, or something else, then be that.

Nothing turns me off from a band that plays interesting music faster than hearing about how boringly normal all the members are. Think about who your fan base is. If they want fun little ditties like Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson put out, songs about being chill and 'missin' you, girl', then sure, act like a chill regular guy.

But please, do not shower me with interesting music and follow it up with a "transparent" reveal of your boring vanilla relatability. Be interesting. DON'T be like 99% of the people in the world.

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

I have to confess that my days of being a passive fan are long gone. Once I became a professional writer, I realized I had a skill to offer, so anyone whose work impressed me became a potential article or interview subject.

When it comes to music, I generally become a hard core fan of an artist/band who is extremely talented, but is still pretty new on the scene and whom I think I can help. I strike up a conversation and find out if they have any professional help. If they have none (no manager, no booking agent, no publicist), I offer to help them out with introductions and often do some pro bono work for them. I am approaching them as a fan rather than as someone looking for paying clients, but I want a situation where I actually interact with them rather than just buying music and going to shows.

August 30 | Registered CommenterSuzanne Lainson

Marcus! What a KILLER article... sharing on Facebook.

thank you so much. Anyone see Bob Lefsetz' email article today about EPICMix. I'm sure it'll be on his blog withing a few days. http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

a quote...
Really, watch this video from beginning to end, even if you think skiing sucks and you hate me, this is the future: http://www.snow.com/epicmix/home.aspx?cmpid=PARMX00001 "

Bob talks about using this concept to help sell music and gets fans excites.

Personally I love it.

Steve

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Soucy

Interesting post. I think being yourself is the most important point. Its difficult to connect with people either online or through your music and not being true to yourself will make that even harder. People can tell who is being themselves & you is just doing what ever the record label is telling them to do.

August 31 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Gene Simmons read this, wiped off his makeup and decided to tell the truth about the sales of KISS urinal mints....

I'm not sure about this article, you can't come off as authentic with that high a level of autotune in the mix no matter how chill you are on youtube.

I Don't like this one sorry.

August 31 | Unregistered CommenterCrowfeatheR

Thanks for some great tips, not only am I musician myself but I also work for my family's customer experience business 'The Customer's Shoes' and this article strikes the right chords on many levels! Definitely some ideas I can learn from :)

September 1 | Unregistered CommenterSaskia

Like your article... very true... i post to on my blog and my tumblr :)

September 1 | Unregistered Commenterammank

Great article! It doesn't necessarily apply to me, but I found it interesting none the less. Thanks

September 3 | Unregistered CommenterChad

I actually thought about it again and I am still in love with this idea. Branding yourself by incorporating the music you play into your way of being, or the probably more prefered way, incorporating your way of being into the music you play.

Cheers
Patrick

In my comment above I said I don't really become a hard core, passive fan for anyone these days. Either I am actively communicating with them or I don't mentally commit.

But last night a friend posted YouTube videos of Chet Baker and Judy Garland. I told him I am a HUGE fan of both of them. Both are dead of course. I didn't even learn about Baker until after he died. They both had tragic life stories, but how they lived or their personalities has had no influence on my appreciation of their music.

And it's the music and watching them perform that allows me to say I am a huge fan. So I think even in this age of social media, you don't have to share anything of yourself if you are such an undeniable talent that people will still be talking about you decades after you have died. No one in today's music scene comes to mind for me like that.

I know some people feel that way about Elvis or Michael Jackson, but neither has ever been on my short list of musical heros.

September 4 | Registered CommenterSuzanne Lainson

Very interesting :) but once you've read it you do wonder why it wasn't so obvious in the first place! I mean you wouldn't gain friends by punching them in the face so why should fans be different... Thanks for the wise words and I wish more people were comfortable with who they are in general!

September 9 | Unregistered CommenterJay Harris

Thanks so much for this. I plan to share it with the artists I work with. By the way, if you like Jason, check out the following artist:
http://www.gregorydouglass.com

September 11 | Unregistered CommenterGlory Reinstein

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