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On The Road With DJ Shadow - An Exclusive Look At How One Artist Stays Connected To His Fans

Michael Fiebach is the Project, Marketing and Merchandise Manager for DJ Shadow. Over the next month as Michael and DJ Shadow cross North America on tour, Hypebot readers will get a look inside how they market and stay connected to fans via exclusive blog posts and videos.

image from www.choicecuts.com(Read Part 2.) This marks day 1 of my 1-month voyage across North America with DJ Shadow, and the 4th major tour that I have worked on.  I work full time for Shadow as his "Project, Marketing, and Merchandise Manager," which pretty much sums up to managing any and everything having to do with web, merchandise, and "projects"...

One of the main focuses of my job is managing the central hub for Shadow's presence: DJShadow.com.  This, of course, involves the utilization and management of the various assets that can bring traffic, attention, and sales to the website. The site was nominated for a Webby Award in 2009 for "Best Celebrity Website," following a relaunch. 

  The relaunched site included the first artist web store that licenses digital tracks back from the Major Label that the artist is under contract with, to sell downloads (master recordings owned by a major label) direct to fans.  Unfortunately, we lost the Webby Award competition to the snazzier (but much slimmer in content) fan site for Jim Carrey.  But luckily, the new site and store is still under operation, and is doing better than ever.  I still think we have the most in-depth artist site and store on the web (post below in reply if you disagree!).

I am almost at the 5 year mark in working for Shadow, and the web and merchandise business has changed drastically in that time.  Through the years, we have had to remain aware and nimble.  I think we have done a great job at staying on the cutting edge of the web and merchandise space, and Shadow is ALWAYS on the cutting edge of music.  My job is a 10-7 sort of gig most of the year (with the exception of the occasional sleepless night before a launch), but about once a year, I am asked to come along for a tour.  In the past, I have managed the website remotely, run the merchandise, and assisted Shadow and the tour manager with any extra help with organization or logistics.  This time, I am handling the same tasks, but we are taking it to a new level with the marketing push and the website involvement.  Here is what we have lined up:

Geo-targeted push notifications on the iPhone app to fans at each venue, asking the fan to take photos of the show.  The fan is given the "show" URL, on djshadow.com/tour to visit following the concert.  Each show page at djshadow.com/tour archives fan's photos.  These show pages update with any photo added at a show, or any comment for a particular show added from a fan, on the iPhone.  Fans without iPhones can simply go to the show page for the concert they are attending at djshadow.com/tour, to say "I'm Going," add comments, and add photos.  All content added on these show pages on djshadow.com/tour and all content added on the iPhone app, sync together through Mobile Roadie's API.  This is the ultimate form of fan engagement: on the website before the show, on the app at the show, and back to the website following the show. 

SMS text message campaign for a free download.  Fans can text "Shadow" to a specified phone number at each show.  They receive an automated response instructing them to respond with their email address.  Once they respond with their email, they receive an automated email instantaneously welcoming them to the DJ Shadow email list, and notifying them regarding their Free Download.

Accepting credit cards at merch table via Square.  If you are not familiar, take a look at http://www.squareup.com - this is an easy way for musicians to accept credit cards at a merchandise table just using a little square piece of plastic (that you obtain for free), and an iPad or an iPhone.  We will be using it with an iPad, which enables us to have accounting for sales by specific SKUs.  We did this ourselves, and will manage it ourselves, as opposed to spending $150/show+ for an outside merchandiser.  Why pay someone else when we can do it ourselves?

Old fashioned email sign up at the merch table.  Just a clipboard with a printed out spreadsheet.  All people who sign up will receive a free download.  This could usher in thousands of new email addresses by the end of the tour.

Street Team: Activated!  Over the 4 and a half years that I have worked for Shadow, I have built up a loyal and active Street Team.  These super-fans help us promote new releases, tours, and various launches, and in return they receive free merchandise, music, and VIP tickets.  We have at least 1 Street Team member lined up for each show on the tour.  These super-important fans will hand out flyers, free stickers, postcards, and will help promote the merchandise at the show, on the iPhone app, and at djshadow.com.

Topspin powered iPhone Merch Store.  I am working on this as I write this (on my iPad!).  This will be a "Merch" section of the DJ Shadow iPhone app; a mobile optimized e-commerce store powered by Top Spin. 

Buttons.  Yes Buttons.  Like pins.  3 inch circles that say "I Saw The Shadowsphere, date, and city."  Free to the first 50 people at each show.  You have no idea how happy a simple free button can make a fan.

Continual utilization of the tools at DJShadow.com.  Shadow and I will be adding tour diaries, video blogs, photos, and general content to DJShadow.com as much as humanly possible.  Seeing as this tour is something like 22 shows in 28 days, we will see how much we can get done!

Email marketing.  In addition to the automated email that will be sent to each person who signs up for the email list via text, and the email sent to each person who manually signs up at the merch table, we will be sending geo-targeted emails promoting shows for certain geographic regions.  We have an extremely in-depth email marketing setup with FanMail Marketing.  Expensive, yes, but highly powerful.

Facebook.  Anytime a fan comments about a show at Facebook.com/djshadow - they receive a personal message from a member of the DJShadow.com team, asking them to add comments and photos at the specified tour page at djshadow.com/tour- bring that Facebook traffic over to DJShadow.com!

Twitter.  Shadow will be tweeting from the road.

Myspace.  Tweets to appear on Myspace, and blog entries posted about any new tour content added at djshadow.com.

iLike.  Tweets to appear on iLike, and bulletins posted for any new tour content added at djshadow.com.

Reverbnation.   Tweets to appear on RN.

Wide range of merchandise.  I believe in offering a wide selection of merchandise for fans.  We will have $10 tees, $20 tees, and $25 tees, giving most people a viable purchase option for soft goods.  The $20 tee is a tour tee shirt with tour dates printed on the back.  This tour tee will also be available on the iPhone app store, but will not be available on the website (keep it limited!).  We will also be selling: posters, sticker/accessory packs (hand-stamped with the Tour name), Limited vinyl releases, limited CD releases, a mass produced CD release, a mass-produced vinyl release, and more.  I plan to write a more in-depth post about the merchandising approach.

I will be paying close attention to all analytics tools throughout the tour (as I always do), including, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Myspace Dashboard, Twitter Followers, NextBigSound, Mobile Roadie App analytics, and more.

And I think that pretty much sums it all up... I think.  I will certainly post an update if anything is added to the arsenal of marketing and merchandising tactics.

Stay tuned to this space, right here at Hypebot.com as I continue my exclusive blog series, On The Road With DJ Shadow.  The posts that follow this will include: analyses of marketing and merchandising tactics, stories from the road, photos, and hopefully some "behind-the-scenes" video footage. 

If you have not yet, take a look at the schedule: http://www.djshadow.com/tour
and please follow:
@djshadow (Shadow)
@mfiebach (me)

Stay tuned for more coming very soon...

Michael Fiebach


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