Music Marketing

The Negative Effects of Rewarding Music Fandom

image from FanTrail is the latest of the line in app platforms that attempt to increase the connectivity between fans and the artists they love. Like any product of this kind, artists can update their fans from one location, sell music, and provide concert information. Where FanTrail differs is that it has integrated a fandom measurement and reward system into the app. The idea is that fans who interact with the app and do favorable things like attend shows, buy music, and tell their friends about new developments can move the "LoveMeter" needle. Once moved, fans position themselves to receive rewards from an artist. One such reward, which is this app's main selling point, is that an artist can send their fans voice greetings.

Spam To Win

With any reward system though, it's important to ask if the most valuable contributions that a fan makes to an artist's career can be measured in this fashion. Sure, the key points are hit on. But how do reward the most positive behaviors, ones that can't be measured by an app? A fan gets rewarded for buying music, but what about passing along some new tunes to a friend?

Yes, the app does enable tunes to be passed to the friend, but such social interactions don't always fit quaintly inside an app. A fan gets a boost on their "LoveMeter" for checking-in at a show, but what if they brought their friends?

The behaviors that are being incentivized through FanTrail are good ones, but when music fandom is measured and rewarded within such a narrow spectrum it discourages the more innovative and interesting ways that a fan may promote an artist. Once you give a fan a checklist of specific behaviors that matter and raise their profile, you crowd out the ones that matter more, but can't be measured as easily. It creates a list in the fan's mind wherein if they are attempting to win the attention of an artist, they will just buy and spam their way into gaining approval.

Is this person your biggest fan? Or, conversely, are they turning away fans?

Eyes On Prize

It's something to think about. To me, defining top fans in such a narrow way is worrisome, and rewarding such behaviors even more so. Yes, top fans should be rewarded in some way. I can live with that. However, once you reward fans like this, it turns an artist's most creative marketers into their worst salesman.

Artist's using this need to be smart. Understand that by incentivizing behaviors, you're discouraging others; behaviors that can't be easily defined and may be stifled. Once a fan has their eyes on the prize, they try to get it, nothing else.

Value is created when fans do things an artist could've never annticpated, could've never rewarded. Once there are rewards, fans grow predictable.

You don't want that. Predictable fans are terrible marketers.

Share on:


  1. In a previous life, I may have gone with this. Now, However, I am sick of the overabundance of hype-machine infrastructures offered to help bands irk potential fans. As a matter of fact, I am going to hang my Reverb Nation account and Lynch my My Space account. Many of these things are helpful, and many of them have great Ideas, but there are millions of musicians per square inch in the world right now. The successes that I am finding are from actually communicating directly with people. My Facebook works fine and Fan Trail sound like another thing that someone would have to sign up for when they could be just enjoying my music.

  2. Agree with Aaron – social media is in sorts turning us into thinking we all need to be marketers at which I’d bet most musicians aren’t terribly good (or even perhaps want to be). And incentives – though they make sense to some degree if valuable and/or deployed uniquely – seem sort of belittling (particularly something being referred to as the ‘LoveMeter’).

  3. Putting metrics in front of your fans is insulting.
    “Understand that by incentivizing behaviors, you’re discouraging others; behaviors that can’t be easily defined and may be stifled.” — sums it up beautifully

  4. Marketing is incredibly important. Without marketing of some sort, you are invisible. The goal for most artists is to get noticed, therefore marketing is crucial. With the advent of web 2.0, marketing has changed dramatically. Consumers are almost immune to conventional advertising. We are now surrounded by people who all believe that they are special and unique and want to be treated as such. We don’t want to be told what to like and what to buy. We want to feel a connection to the product. Effective marketing capitalizes on this.
    It is with this thought in mind that I must say, I agree 100% with Justin. Everyone matters, every fan contributes and helps your cause.

Comments are closed.