A bit of light-hearted fun as the festive season heats up and the New Year fast approaches.
Imagine you are thinking about your year over a nice cup of coffee or a beer in the quiet corner of a bar. Tick the statements that accurately describe your thoughts (statements use ‘we’ and ‘our’ - if you’re a solo artist think ‘I’ and ‘my’). Be honest with yourself.
o Over the year we generally only found new fans around gigs.
o We haven’t gotten around to sorting out our own web page.
o We don’t have a fan email list yet.
o If you look at the sites we use, it’s not very easy to get what we are about.
o We spent a lot in the studio this year and feel disappointed with sales.
o We tell our friends about our gigs but we’re not very good at communicating with our fans to create long lasting loyal relationships. In fact, if we’re totally honest, we’re not sure who our fans are.
o We’re not very good at listening to anyone, particularly our fans (and also each other).
o We do have a tendency to put our music out there and hope for the best.
o We have a vague idea of where we want to get to.
o We haven’t tried anything new this year so we are getting the same results.
o Quite honestly, we don’t work well as a team; solo artist: I don’t stand up for my vision.
All/most ticked – You feel despondent and hopeless. Nothing seems to work. You seem to be going nowhere fast. Everything is a struggle. Fans have not been at the top of your priority list. You want someone to discover you and do all the work for you so you can just be left alone to make music. But you know the music industry has changed and you feel left behind and frustrated. You feel like you’re always banging your head against a brick wall. You know you can do better.
About half ticked – You are making progress but it seems to be taking a very long time. You recognize the same fans at gigs. You know there are more fans out there but you’re not sure how to find them. You are open minded and willing to try new things but mostly you trundle along fueled by hope. Your dream is to be signed but you don’t really understand what that means for you and, deep down, you’re not sure that’s what the rest of the band wants. You get on well together but it all feels a bit directionless. You know you could do better.
None ticked (or almost none) - You’ve got it pretty sussed. You are clear what your band is about. You own your domain name and have a basic web page that links to all the other platforms you use. You have a fan mailing list and you sign up fans at every opportunity. You’re clear what a fan gets when they sign up and you deliver on your promises. Your list is growing steadily, in fact it’s grown a lot since the beginning of the year.
You care a lot about your fans and you ‘think fan’. You understand the difference between a potential fan, a fan and a loyal fan and you regularly do different things for each type of fan. You understand your fan demographics and use this information to help you find new fans. You’ve found lots of new fans not just through gigs, but all sorts of other interesting avenues. You spend time getting to know your new fans.
You like to try out new songs to see how they feel and to see what the audience reaction is. You listen to feedback and improve your songs as you go along. This year you created a buzz around a new recording and it sold well when it was released.
You have a very clear idea of what you want to achieve in the long term and you make sure everything you do on a daily basis is moving you in that direction. You are not afraid to try new things. And you’re not afraid to make some tough decisions to keep you on your path to success.
As a band you act as a team, supporting each other and making the best use of each member’s abilities (musical and otherwise). You share the admin burden equally and are well organized so everything runs smoothly and no one feels put upon.
As a solo artist with a backing band you help everyone who plays for you understand what you’re about and where you want to get to.
You have worked hard to build a large loyal fan base and your fans enable you to live the life you want. You are grateful for their support. You learn from your mistakes, celebrate your successes (big and small) and feel happy in yourself.
Things to do:
Make a note of what you are committed to doing differently in the New Year.
Write down where you want to be at the end of 2012.
Decide on your next goal to move you in that direction and the actions you need to take to achieve it.
Eliza Michaels works with solo artists and bands who struggle with marketing themselves and who want to easily grow a large loyal fan base to create a successful music career. Eliza is author of The Fan Formula - how to attract and keep a large loyal fan base so you can get your music out there in a big way. Sign up here for a free Music Career Success Checker www.thefanformula.com