I read a great article by Brian Mazzaferri from the pop-rock band I Fight Dragons. Brian’s article went into great detail on how they organically started to gain 200 new fans a week.
His points are so valid and real that it inspired me to delve a little bit deeper into their strategy.
Here is the breakdown of the top 3 things they put into place to begin gaining fans
1. Give your music away, but don’t throw it away
We’ve given away a free digital copy of our debut EP to everyone who signs up for our email list. For people who don’t know us, it’s a free and easy way to learn about our music for free. And then we’ve got their ear. Note, this is VERY different to just posting it online for free download. The price may seem the same, but the result is 100% different, because we now have a foot in the proverbial door.
I’ve gone to several artist websites and the first thing I see is “Download a Free Mp3″ without even asking for an email address or any of their contact info. So you may have gained a fan that way but have no way in keeping that person as a fan.
I don’t preach giving away your music, I preach be ready to give away something of value in exchange for a potential fan’s email address. I suggest that your bribe be a full-length MP3 (a fan favorite, a new song, a popular cover, etc.). A bribe will encourage more people to sign up and act as a “thank you” when they actually do!
*ReverbNation’s “Exclusive Download” widget is a great, easy-to-use bribe!
2. Regularly give away stuff that’s way too good to give away
Next, we send an email to our list every Monday at 11AM (for the most part). More weeks than not, that email contains free music. And not just some off-the-cuff track, it’s a track that is up to our personal standards, which I’d like to think are very high. In holding ourselves to that standard, we give our fans something new that they really want to show their friends. And when the next new track goes out, the new converts get to become the evangelists. But they need new music to do that, and not just any new music, YOUR BEST new music.
Newsletters work! Simple. Your newsletter is where you have the chance to be as unique as possible. Most bands make the mistake of just pimping themselves out on their newsletters. This is not the way to make people feel closer to you. What Brian did in each newsletter is what we call a “call to action”. This prompts the reader to take some type of action. In this case read the newsletter and then go download another song from us. Other options of call to actions are to follow me on twitter, listen to a new track on my myspace page & friend me there, and watch a new video on my youtube channel.
3. Be real, be available, and be involved
This seems like a no-brainer, but it actually takes a LOT of work. We’re on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, our Blog, and TheSixtyOne every day, talking with people and being involved in conversations. I’m NOT talking about one-way, blast-yourself-out-there stuff like MySpace adding. I’m talking about joining in conversations on Twitter that you have something to add to. About commenting earnestly on music you like. About joining a community, not trumpeting your own message.
I think his tagline of “be real, be available, and be involved” speaks volumes. I consistently tell artists is that there is a new breed of fans where they DON’T want to be your fan, but want to be seen as your friend. They want to talk to you on twitter, they want hear from you on Facebook. They want to engage in a conversation and not just feel like they are talking to an automated machine. It’s all about creating meaningful connections with your fans.
Just from implementing these few steps in their promotional strategy I Fight Dragons was able to go from 0 people on their list to 3656 subscribers with an average of about 200 a week signing up.
If you have an awesome story on your marketing strategy, and how it helped your email list please share it on our blog www.cyberprurban.com/blog
Cyber PR Urban is Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR’s new urban division that handles Hip Hop and R&B as well as urban and urban crossover artists. We connect urban artists to Blogs, Podcasters, Internet Radio Stations, Vlogs, Social Networking sites, and Webzines. Cyber PR Urban’s Urban Plug newsletter is a free bi-monthly e-zine for musicians & entrepreneurs who want marketing, promotion and PR tips for navigating the new music business. Sign Up here: www.cyberprurban.com. Check out past articles at: www.cyberprurban.com/blog
Christina Duren started her music career as an intern at Island Def Jam where she spent a year in the Radio and Promotions/Publicity department. At IDJ she worked with Mariah Carey, Rihanna and Ne-Yo. From there she took her first real job at Shore Fire Media working campaigns for The Roots, and Heineken Red Star Soul Tour. Christina now acts as PR Director for Cyber PR and co-founder of Cyber PR Urban.