The 2000 Things To Generate 20,000 Fans Challenge

image from michaelbrandvold.com This guest post comes from Michael Brandvold (@michaelsb), a 20 year music & online marketing veteran who has worked with unsigned bands and superstars like KISS and Britney Spears. His Michael Brandvold Marketing provides advice and consulting services to musicians.

Author David Meerman Scott made a honest and realistic quote, “if you want 20,000 fans you must do 2000 different things that each generate 10 fans.” This was my favorite quote from 2010 and I am going to take this on as a challenge for 2011 for an ambitious project to give you 2000 different things you can do to generate 20,000 fans.

I am defining generating fans in a few different ways:

  1. A brand new fan who has never followed you before.
  2. Engaging with existing fans to get them to participate.
  3. Engaging with existing fans to get them to convert on an action.



Some of these items will apply better for larger acts, some items will work for any act. Some may work for you, some may not… not yet. Some these can be done with little effort, some will take some web development, some might even require some significant development. Some of these have successfully worked for me over the years. The point is to create a list of items that would cover a wide range of acts and abilities.

Of course the most important part of the project is your involvement! If you have questions about an item leave a comment or send me an email. Even better, if you have a suggestion for something to try please leave a comment or send me an email. I want to hear what has worked for you.

The end result of all this will hopefully be more Facebook likes, Twitter followers, email list subscriptions, more sales and more traffic to your website… more fans!

2000 Things to Generate 20,000 Fans Challenge

  1. Reply to every Tweet that mentions you.
  2. Let your fans lead you – What did you get for KISSmas.
  3. Ask your fans to submit photos of their tattoos.
  4. Select a fan of the week.
  5. Share what is on your iPod.
  6. Share the stories behind your songs.
  7. Get your crew involved.
  8. Do a Twitter interview.
  9. Submit show ads.
  10. Submit ticket stubs.
  11. Submit radio ads.
  12. Wish Your Fans a Happy Birthday
  13. Create Regional Fan Discussion Groups
  14. Write or blog about your experience in the music business.
  15. Press Some Flesh.
  16. Inside the Studio
  17. Get a Looxcie and Become a Reality Star
  18. Create a eTour Book
  19. Real time show updates
  20. Twitter After Show Party
  21. The Girls of KISS, Find a New Segment of Your Fans
  22. Promote Yourself at a Twitter Hashtag Event
  23. Create a Daily Paper.li Paper of Your Twitter Followers
  24. Submit Your Experience Getting the New Album

HYPEBOT READERS:  Michael has asked Hypebot readers to help create this list of 200 Things To Generate 20,000 Fans.  Add to list in the comments section below and we'll make sure Michael makes the best ones part of the master list. We'll also be sharing the list as it grows; or you can check it out on Michael's blog.

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  1. Thinking about a Fan contest (geared more toward existing fans, but also announce at gigs) to possibly generate more web traffic & signups. Fans go to my website, signup and enter a song suggestion for me. I’d pick a tune out of the suggestions I receive, at my discretion, and record as “fan favorite.” The fan(s) who had the “winning tune” get their name(s) listed on the liner notes as dedication or something. The CD will be a collection of standards revisited, not originals, so might work. Whadya think?

  2. 25. Impress Usher
    26. Rip off Madonna
    27. Rip off the Beatles
    28. Cut out that third verse
    29. Fall off the stage and legitimately hurt yourself, post video on YouTube
    30. Retweet everything Barack Obama tweets.
    31. Post pictures of yourself wearing thrift store clothes that don’t fit right.
    32. Two words: Wardrobe Malfunction.
    33. Speak out on a cause or social issue you don’t entirely understand.
    34. Watch for the next hit song and write essentially the same song in one day and get it out on social media.
    35. Never write anything that doesn’t easily fall into a category or sound like an existing band or genre.
    36. When in doubt, 12-bar blues.
    37. If under the age of 17, Tweet CONSTANTLY about NOTHING.
    38. Get a day job and give away all of your intellectual property for free.
    39. Bored? Bash a Republican.
    40. Have conversations with auto-responder bots. Tweet the words “MacBook Pro.” I dare you.
    41. Radio stations are run on computers, but computer geeks like cocaine and hookers just the same.
    42. Rich? Pay Jango $25,000 and they’ll play your new song almost enough to achieve the same penetration as terrestrial radio.
    43. Stand outside a YMCA with an acoustic guitar and play Paramore covers.
    44. Stand outside a middle school with an acoustic guitar and play that fucking Lady Antebellum song.
    45. Send a press release to local media explaining you have cancer and may not live to see your album get finished.
    46. Thinking of ending it all? Make sure your suicide note has your SoundCloud URL.
    47. MSNBC is probably hiring.
    48. Under no circumstances do anything different, ground-breaking, or original, and expect the internet to embrace it.
    Does that help?

  3. Thank so much Bruce and Hypebot! I am looking forward seeing what your readers submit and will check back with my new ideas every week.

  4. ‘Too Talented to Succeed,’ you shouldn’t be so trusting and optimistic about the advice given to aspiring musicians. Your post reeks of unwarranted idealism, and gullibility. You’re just asking to be taken advantage of by the many predators in the magical but most times exploitative music business.

  5. So, on late night TV you used to see infomercials about how to become an entrepreneur. People with questionable success as an actual entrepreneur found success ‘coaching’ others to success. I’m thinking of Carlton Sheets and the “Making Money Placing Ads” guy.
    It seems that the same sort of industry exists around musicians. There is a seemingly endless supply of ‘experts’ providing services, advice, etc. to musicians that coach them to greater success.
    In both cases, people make a living for themselves capitalizing on the hopes and dreams of others, whether its entrepreneurship or musicianship. As always, the people who profit from the commerce of music make more money than the people who actually make the music.

  6. I am not sure what your point is, but I am a bit confused by it. This post and series of tips is about providing free tips to bands and musicians of what they can do to try and find more fans. Nobody is paying for any of this advice.
    Is there something wrong with that?
    Do you feel the advice is wrong, misleading?

  7. Don’t forget; Put out a project then die. It’s called, “doin’ a Buckley”.

  8. We could also make enable a facility in social networks whereby fans would be able to upload a sound file of their choosing (could be of them talking, the dog next door barking, the washing machine, whatever they like) to the band’s web site. The fans would first have to provide their email addresses in order to be able to upload the file. These sound files, or portions of them, selected by the band, would be incorporated somewhere into the next concert, maybe into an existing song or into a specifically composed song. This concert would be recorded and be subsequently made available for buying in the band’s web site, with the song containing the song with the sound files. This would probably work best in bands that have an electronic element, but it depends on the artist’s/band’s creativity.

  9. At each show you do, play at least one cover. Have every one of your performances recorded on a semi-decent camera with mic set up. Post each one on your website for people to download. People who went to one of your shows and liked it will want to download the particular show they went to for their own memories and safe keeping. They will either show other friends because the performance was so good and they want to share the music with others, they just want to share something intimate that they were a part of with someone else, or they want to up their “cool” factor and show friends what they did the night before. By playing at least one different cover each performance, you hopefully get people who went to one show downloading other performances just to see what covers you did at other shows. Playing one different cover is key because it opens up your potential audience and it makes each performance a little more distinct and therefor more personal. It could lead to the same people returning to see what you will cover for your next performance and it will get fans to compare and talk about what shows they went to and which shows they have attended cover wise.
    Free album at http://www.facebook.com/chancius

  10. On our page (facebook.com/elysionfields) I have a tab setup specifically that tells fans to tell a friend about us. On there, we have the facebook send widget installed that sends a message to anyone the fan designates it to and we will be running contests for fans who actually use it and provide proof of doing so. The more fans, the more winners…etc. I figure that to be a new way of “suggesting” us to their friends since Facebook has removed their suggest to friends feature.

  11. also, since our band is largely focused around guitars and the musical aspect of things…we have set up rock band/guitar hero before at our merch table in addition to a contest for whoever gets the highest score wins a shirt/shorts/CD etc…which has attracted tons of new fans to our table who then end up going to check us out when we play and then grab them with our mailing list for additional free music.

  12. In addition, people who come to shows could leave suggestions for covers for the following show. They’d then be interested to see if their suggested song was picked and attend another show or at least come back to the website.

  13. I do quite a bit of street performing but this works in club situations as well.
    I have a sign on my merch table that says: “HEY SMARTPHONE USERS! Receive a FREE download of my full album if you add me @BrianBergeron on Twitter or BrianBergeronMusic on Facebook and post where you saw me perform!”
    People who are less inclined to buy music but want the free CD are likely to do the simple task to receive your music for free. It fosters a relationship and also has them post to their own networks where they saw you perform. When you get home you send them a link to your BandCamp or wherever you host your music.

  14. – Sign CDs and merch between sets and after every show
    – Give each band member a quota to gather 5 email addresses per show
    – Smile and say something nice or cool to people at your show (soundcheck, tear down, etc.)
    – Call radio stations whenever you travel and offer to record a station ID
    – Offer to play weekly at a cozy local bar for free drinks and develop relationships with the locals and everyone who shows up; help the bar create a scene
    – do educational workshops in schools and send kids home with download cards for their parents

  15. – Address the servers at your favorite coffee place, etc. by first name and put them on guestlists for shows and give them CDs (they talk to a lot of people)
    – Perform at a benefit and encourage the executive director, staff, etc. to come to your regular shows
    – Keep your music students updated about releases, concerts, etc.
    – Tweet recommendations of other bands and concerts
    – Retweet announcements from other bands
    – Call radio stations that play your music and thank them personally
    – Use a SMS texting service to give away MP3s (in exchange for contact info)

  16. – Make a graphic on your band’s Facebook welcome page with arrows that point at the Like button (try Tabsite)
    – Use RootMusic’s band page or similar apps to add music to your band’s Facebook page
    – Tweet/post compelling “pull quotes” from articles about your band
    – Call concert promoters 6 weeks before the show and ask them if there are any media you should send CDs to
    – Give a tshirt to the most eye catching female and male in the room in exchange for putting it on right now
    – Sell a variety of band tshirts and merch not just XL boxy tshirts
    – Do a matinee show for families (who never get to go see music any more)
    – Do a brunch show at a well-loved restaurant

  17. – Collaborate with a band of another genre (concert or recording) to reach a new fan base
    – Collaborate with an artist/craftsperson in another medium/field (architect, choreographer/dance company, cartoonist, chef, holistic health, bike shop) to teach a new fanbase
    – Do a “band exchange” where you host five bands that live a five-hour drive from you including promoting a concert with them; and then they return the favor; publicize it as a band exchange series in your local market
    – Use a QR code that a band member holds up in every YouTube video as well as the band’s URL
    – Take photos from the stage and nearby of fans, get their email addresses, and email them when the photos have been posted
    – Use Mobile Roadie for an inexpensive easy-to-update smart phone app for fans
    – Do a monthly Skype video chat where fans can log in to watch a rehearsal in real time (have a non-band member on hand to make sure the video and audio keep working throughout

  18. Run a competition on twitter where all new fans are entered into a random drawing, and one fan gets a 60 second song written about them by the artist.

  19. Message 10 existing fans directly and offer them 2 promo download codes (I’d recommend using Bandcamp) for your single, album or EP. Make sure to personalize the message and tell them that one promo code is for them and that one is to pass along to a friend of their choosing. This is a great way to get your existing fans to recruit new like-minded listeners. Make sure your website & social media pages are set up so you can stay connected with those that seek out further engagement.

  20. – Use your facebook band page for more than just telling your fans what shows you’re playing. Get them more involved with your band socially so they become “more” than just fans.
    – Make a “band card” that you can hand out to new people you meet at parties or events or whatnot. it’s hard for people to check out your band when they can’t remember the name of it.

  21. Wow, this took longer than I anticipated! OK, here’s what I’ve got, in no particular order:
    – Ask your fans for a one sentence description of your music, make a blog post featuring the best of them, and ask your fans to vote for the winner (be sure to offer a decent prize). Use that description in the tagline of your site.
    – Follow up a week after each sale with a download code for the item purchased, to give to a friend
    – Package 4-6 of your best tracks to give away free as an EP, in exchange for an email address
    – Schedule a status update or two per day ahead of time for maximum performance and consistency
    – Devote an hour once a week to commenting on others’ status updates on Facebook and Twitter, so the conversation isn’t always one way
    – Use PunchTab to gamify your site. Awards points for visits, likes, comments, etc.
    – Include a surprise bonus with physical orders
    – Trade Facebook page suggestions with similar sounding bands that you genuinely like
    – Post your albums on torrent sites and newsgroups
    – Once a month, write a blog post about an old song and make it free to download for one week only
    – Create a fan “how you can help” checklist
    – Sell sheet music via ZMX Music

  22. I’ve had some pretty good success with Google AdWords. Sure, it costs a few bucks and it might not be for everyone. But in my case, being able to set my own parameters to target the exact type of fans I’m looking for has increased the size of my fan mailing list quite a bit. So, that’s my suggestion. 🙂

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