I’m just back from an amazing trip to Los Angeles where I attended and spoke at the ASCAP Expo. I also hosted a networking mixer at the house for 50 musicians from my community in Brooklyn and so I have been thinking a lot about community lately, and I have some thoughts:
Every artist has three separate communities.
Community #1: Your Super Fans
These are fans who are primarily Your Live Audience.You know them by name. If you play out live, they attend your shows regularly, and buy many things you offer (not just music). If you have a street team they are on it and they evangelize strongly on your behalf.
Community #2: Engaged Fans
These fans are your Active Online Audience. They are newsletter subscribers, blog readers, video watchers, RSS subscribers, active Social Media engagers who frequently comment & engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Community #3: Ambient Fans
These fans are your Passive Online Audience and they are your social media friends who are aware of you via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm, etc. but don’t actively communicate with you and may not have ever even heard your music (yet).
There are many different communities to tack on to this list but these are the primary three.
The problem is most artists have only one strategy for marketing and promoting to three totally separate groups.
The way you maintain your relationship with each of these communities requires a different strategy because you have varying degrees of engagement with each of them.
The way you create and develop your relationship with them should also take some careful consideration.
Yes, there will be overlap between them but not as much as you may think.
This article is broken up into three parts, one for each community.
Part One: Community #1 - Your Super Fans / Your Live Audience
Your live audience if you play out and your “real” friends who support you can also be included in this group. They will most likely be the first engaged community you have and the first one you started building for obvious reasons.
Before social media was around this was the only community that indie artists really had. So much has changed in the last 7 years. Back then, you fostered relationships with Community 1 by playing live often and you captivated them in person.
You didn’t need to grab them within the first 60 seconds because they most likely stuck around for at least 2-3 songs. You didn’t have to worry about a “15 second pitch” to describe what you sounded like - you were up on stage for them to see. And you didn’t have to worry about the load time on your website, and
Your social media chops.
You just had to BRING IT playing live… Then you could build your mailing list in person.
If you could rope them in by playing a compelling live show, you were on your way to having a true fan base of engaged fans.
How To Engage Community #1
It always comes up when you ask the experts - it’s the foundation. Always be honing your craft.
Create a riveting live show
When you do this you will be as Seth Godin says “remarkable” and the word will spread.
Factors to consider:
- Connection to the audience
- Solid songwriting
- A fantastic live show
- Great music
- The audience experience
- Word of mouth
Seth Godin refers to this combination of factors as being remarkable.
The most applicable morsel is: “Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me. Am I going to make a remark about it? If not, then you’re average, and average is for losers.”
If your live audience is not building consistently, one of these elements may be missing and your live show may need work. If people don’t spread the word for you, your audience will not build and you should go back to the drawing board to work on your songs, and improve your show, as it all starts there.
Improving Your Show
The most extraordinary live music coach I’ve ever witnessed is Tom Jackson.
Tom works on developing your live stage show using a series of effective techniques to both create a cohesive show and a connection with your live audience.
Tom rightly points out that your songs don’t all sound the same, but in most cases when you perform, they all look the same when played live. Toms DVDs, blog and workshops will help you work on your band dynamics and stage presence. I have seen him work miracles with bands. In just a few hours, he completely transforms shows that are hum- drum into riveting stage performances. Tom is unlike any coach out there and what he teaches needs to be seen to be fully understood.
Capturing Community #1’s Data:
Once the live audience is at your gig, you ask them for their e-mail addresses for your newsletter or for their mobile numbers for your text messaging list, and you employ consistent techniques to communicate with them. Also add a column to your newsletter sign up sheet asking fans:
“Is it ok if we find you on Facebook Y/N?”
And lastly add a Twitter column so they can write their usernames.
If you have not made a concerted effort to connect the dots between your live audience and your email list you are sacrificing a direct line to money.
So, sign up for a newsletter management system to help get you on the way. We recommend Reverb Nation, Bandletter, Fanbridge, or Nimbit to get started.
Stay tuned for Part Two of Your Three Communities: Engaged Fans