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Music Success in Nine Weeks, Week 5, Your Newsletter List vs. Your Email List & Conducting Surveys

Original content posted at www.true-northmusic.tumblr.com

February 21, 2010

Music Success in Nine Weeks, Week 5, Your Newsletter List vs. Your Email List & Conducting Surveys

Well, as usual, behind…not enough hours in the day to complete reading blogs, music info and all the social networking mania!   True North had a great band gig this Saturday evening with The Elders in St. Joe, MO; it was a packed, Irish party with fantastic original music by both groups.  What a fun event and way to kick off True North’s break from playing out over the winter months; we rocked the house, numerous compliments and a few new opportunities for gigs.  Thanks to everyone who came out, braved the bad roads/ weather to make the event a huge success! 

Wanted to mention True North has a new photo stream and sets of photos on Flickr, True North’s Photo Stream, both with band photos, cover artwork and of course, a set of merchandise.  There are samples of our newsletters (via ConstantContact), tabletop flyers, 11×17 posters and other promotional tools we are using; might  give other individuals/ bands ideas.  I will preface I am a very novice Photoshop & Quark designer, self taught out of necessity to create band content!  Continually learning how to integrate Flickr and social media into True North’s overall communication with fans. 

“Thinking of yourself as a commodity and your fans as a consumer…”  I do believe as Ariel mentions fans are truly consumers and a profit making commodity in the Independent/ Original Artist music business.  Artists have to think about selling the “ideology” or “uniqueness” about the band as well as sellables like music or merchandise.  As the discussion of Ariel’s book progresses into tips on building rapport with email lists, online communication and conducting surveys to assess fans interests, realize I should mention again Kelly Mooney’s 10 Demandments book highlighted in Week 2.  When contemplating this ‘fans as consumers’ ideology, all ten of Kelly’s consumer (insert fan) demandments are valid rules to follow with any fan communication.  I will cover a few which are valid for me. 

1.  Earn My Trust

Remember when deals were done with a handshake, store clerks/ marketers took the time to learn the name of clients, brand loyalty was a given and the marketing mix was very small?  Well, not today!  In my opinion, people suffer from serious choice overload and with the myriad of choices in the Midwest and online music marketplace, well, fans are as fickle and finicky about music as the proverbial house cat.  One bad show, social misstep or general snafu, fans will be on the next train to the next bar/ venue to the next band!  Fans develop a feeling of loyalty, recommend the band, do grass roots branding (talking about you) and really grasp onto a project or piece of music he/ she believes in.  My two cents is…be professional, communicate in a way that makes fans be inspired in all communication which is not music, do not ask for anything in return

2.  Inspire Me

Connecting with fans in a long lasting, meaningful way.  Sounds easy right?  Believe this inspiration is a matter of being authentic with fans, letting fans see the artists music is a reflection of “who you are”, remembering fans names and a tidbit about the individual, making a special effort to talk to a fan you know has traveled a long distance to a show.  It is not easy to make these personal connections, especially when you walk off stage, are barraged by request for autographs, trying to tear down equipment or generally need to get out of the room because you need to be away from people (I know, shocking)!  At this weekend’s show, I tried the tactic of grabbing CD’s and taking a CD to individuals or new fans who had specifically come up to me after the show, made compliments about the music, ask the band to possibly perform at a special event, etc.  Each person was extremely grateful, appreciative and surprised and my only request was each individual sign up for True North’s email list!  How easy is that?  The exercise was fun and observing reactions of receiving a gift from a performer…again, giving away music for free has advantages, makes people feel great, like he/ she received something to take away from the show! 

3.  Make It Easy—DUH!

4.  Put Me in Charge

5.  Guide Me—Tell fans where to go to get info about the band; online, on stage or help fans make the choice to visit you or find out more about the band!

6.  24/7—Hello, social networking and constant, consistent communication. 

7. Get to Know Me—See No. 2, Inspire Me…critical.  I am also trying to take pictures of myself with fans at shows, to help me remember who the heck they are!  Figure with training, I might remember most people’s names/ faces (hopefully). 

8.  Exceed My Expectationsbring it at a show, wow the audience or give them something meaningful online with communicating in social media, email lists or anywhere else you can think of. 

9.  Reward MeFREE Music, Free Tees, fan give always, promotions, take a survey…get a free tee!  The reality is our group has never been one to promote merchandise well, giving it away has been somewhat of a bonus for us to turn inventory or share new music with fans.  We try to give out stickers, goodies on tabletops, give a treat at a show, sign tees, whatever works…even if we only sell one tee!  Would I love to sell 50 pieces of merchandise at a show, absolutely, but is probably not the reality with the current economy and venues/ festivals on the calendar.  With new merchandise, we shall see how fans attention is captured or the responses. 

10. Stay With MeMooney sagely states, “For relationships to stand the test of time, they require nourishment, compassion, communication and honesty.”  Staying committed means having something for fans between gigs, a special treat on the email list, following through on promises made and knowing the other person (fan) knows that you are there for them too! 

Ariel has a fantastic brainstorming exercise for thinking about the type of fans a band has (aka fan demographics for marketing minded individuals).  Who are your Fans, What do Fans like to do, Where do Fans hang out, What websites might they congregate on, What media outlets do they follow or are interested in, What events do fans do when not listening to live music, what might they talk about at a gig, etc.  Contemplating these questions  I suspect many of our fans are much like the guys in the band, have similar interests, hobbies, are musicians/ songwriters or have traits which engage them in some way to live, original country music. 

Ariel’s tips for Creating an Engaging Newsletter, The 3G’s (Greeting, Guts, Getting) are awesome.  I write various and a significant volume of content both print and online for the band, but struggle with what exactly to put in a newsletter or fan connection piece; the above brainstorming and artists tips were invaluable.  Create a personal greeting, tell fans what you as a band have been doing then get those fans into action (voting, surveys, visiting your website, reading blog, etc).  It sounds simple, but trying to create something unique every week can be daunting (like blogging), I occasionally miss the mark how to exactly communicate with fans appropriately.  Sometimes, inserting a new show date into a fan communication email is all time constraints allow, but working to create new templates in Constant Contact which will allow for various and varied communications…up to four different formats per month.  Pretty ambitions, will see if the other band members have suggestions about what content they deem appropriate! 

One “fan want” assessment True North has not considered utilizing is Surveys.  I have used SurveyMonkey for a few years in business and marketing applications, but never thought to utilize this online tool to ask what fans might want, where they might like to see the band play or what products (merch) they might like/ want!  Constant Contact also offers a survey feature, but it is at additional cost.  I would like to try to accomplish one survey before the band becomes extremely busy this summer, putting a link on our FB page, email list and other places fans might visit.  In 10 questions, we might discover new insights into fans likes/ dislikes, wants/ needs and maybe discover a new unlooked for opportunity or way of communication!  Cannot hurt to try the survey idea out, see what happens.  On to Week Six, mowing through ideas on a very cold, snowy, icy and generally miserable afternoon in Kansas City!   —Will Gladhart

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