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« BANDS DON’T PAY TO PLAY – YOU ONLY HARM YOURSELF | Main | Music Career Interviews: Brian Thompson »

Don't Get In Car Wrecks With Your Fans

Guilty admission.

Yes, we’ve probably met before but I’m sorry, I don’t remember you. It happens often, so don’t take offense.

But I can rap every word of I Like Big Butts like a champ.

I’ve got my priorities.

And so does everyone else.

We’ve only got so much room in our brains. Things we consider relevant stick, everything else tends to float away. It’s efficent and helps our mind stay organized. (In fact, perfect memory is a miserable, horrible existence. Check this Radiolab episode about the man who couldn’t forget.)

So it’s eaaaaaaaaaaaaasy to forget about Local Band #A2496BBQ21. If you wrestle bears for a living, you probably don’t have a local band that high on your mental priority list. Even the rest of us with less dangerous careers have a lot on our minds.

It’s all about Mind Share.

Whereas market share (another good term to be familiar with) is the % of total sales within a market that your product sells, mind share is the % of a customer’s mind you occupy. To put it more simply, when a customer thinks about bands, how likely is the customer to think about your band? The more likely you are to be remembered, the more business you get.

For example: Your homie asks for a good restaurant in the area. The names you remember get 100% of the business. Simple.

If you’ve got a HUGE mind share, your brand essentially becomes the name of the product. In the US, people ask for a “Kleenex”, not a “facial tissue”. (How’s that for some awesome marketing?) If you’ve got NO mindshare, your band essentially doesn’t exist for this consumer. That’s being a little too underground of a band.

Soooooooooooo how do we build mindshare?

Mindshare is all about building memory, so it’s a matter of salience, repetition, and context.

Salience is how powerful an impression the memory makes. Remember when you got into that car wreck and you remember every single moment in slow motion? That’s a salient memory become it was powerful and your brain told you hey, pay attention! DO NOT GET INTO CAR WRECKS WITH YOUR FANS. KILLING THEM IS NOT GOOD FOR YOUR BAND.


Getting your band into a fan’s memory without mutilation is ideal and not too difficult. Simple things like responding to a fan’s tweet says “Hey, I’m the band and I actually care about you.”

We remember people that care about us, because obviously they have good taste in people.

Or if you know it’s a fan’s birthday, tell em happy birthday from the stage. Simple, but it adds the personal connection to the memory that builds salience. (Or you can take the brute-force method of physically connecting with your fans. GWAR)

Memories are also context-dependant. Back to the earlier example, when you’re thinking of restaurants to suggest to your friend, not only does your memory call up a list of restaurant names, it also remembers what the food was like, how the service was, what kind of dress code the place has…

All things tangentially related to the experience reinforce the experience.

So to build mind share you can also interact with fans in different contexts. If the only way you connect with your fans is facebook (see next week’s post), that’s only one context they’ll remember you through. Now say you happened to do a cooking show on youtube as well. Then when people mention cooking there’s a possible “I know a band that cooks” connection as well as at a show they can think “I’ve seen those guys cook”. Essentially you’re creating more “things” that people encounter that will likely “trigger” memories of your band. There will be more on this topic in later posts.

Finally, repetition is the part of marketing that gets the most focus because it’s the most obvious. The first time you hear a band name, it’s new. Then when you see it in a magazine you go, “Hmm, I’ve heard of them.” Then after you see their name on a poster on every street corner, you’re more likely to think “Those guys are everywhere.”

Putting up flyers and getting your name mentioned is good, but repition alone doesn’t mean squat if there’s no salience or context. Then all you’d have is the “Oh yeah, I recognize that name.” While mere recognition does improve liking of something (mere exposure effect), you want people to actually take action when they run into you. There’s many bands you recognize the name but haven’t even given a listen to because there’s no real reason you’re compelled to listen on just a name alone. Nevertheless, the more people hear your name, the more likely they are to remember you.

Phew, good post. Nap time.


Derek is an MBA who teaches business skills to artists. He plays bass in Onward We March, is active within the local arts community, and posts weekly music business articles at Derek Thinks Music.

Don't Get In Car Wrecks With Your Fans

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