Do Musicians Need To Interact With Their Fans?

Coldplay_Chris_MartinAs part of our 9th Anniversary, we asked our regular contributors to share their favorite Hypebot posts. This one comes from Dave Cool of Bandzoogle.

At Bandzoogle, we often talk about the “Hub & Spokes” method to drive traffic to your website using your social media profiles. The root of the “Hub & Spokes” concept is really about interacting with your fans and using all the tools available in a cohesive strategy that will create more awareness about you and your music.

Now, musicians are busy people. Often they play in several projects, or have day jobs, families, or all of the above. So whenever there is talk about social media, newsletters, and marketing in general, it’s understandable that it can seem a little overwhelming. It takes a lot of work just for the artistic side of things, between writing music, rehearsing, playing shows, and all of the logistics that go into those creative endeavors.

But the days of the reclusive rock star hiding backstage, letting record companies and managers do all the promotion and communicating with their fans, is long gone. It’s not enough to write, rehearse, and perform music to develop a sustainable career. Fan interaction has now become part of the job description for today’s musicians.

How We Got Here: Technology

So how did we get here? We’ve seen recording technology reach the point where you can record professionally from the comfort of your own home. You can now take music you recorded at home and easily distribute it to online stores like iTunes and Amazon for a small fee. And the internet, with tools like websites, email, and social media, gives you access to a potential global audience of fans.

The result of these technological advances? A level playing field for all musicians where you can record for cheap, distribute your music for cheap, and reach a potential global audience of fans for practically free. Hooray! Everyone gets a career in music!

Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. The flipside of all of this has been that music fans also now have an unlimited choice of music. They can listen to whatever music they want, whenever they want to. Musicians are now competing for the attention of music fans, who are distracted more than ever by the thousands upon thousands of options available to them at any given moment.

3 Reasons to Interact with Your Fans

So do musicians need to interact with their fans? In a word, yes. But here are 3 reasons why it’s important that you do:

1. Keeps fans aware of you

The biggest reason to interact with your fans is to simply keep them aware of you and your music. As previously mentioned, fans have unlimited choices when it comes to music, so it’s extremely important to keep them aware of your music on a regular basis.

2. Solidifies relationships with fans

More and more, fans want to feel a direct connection to the artists themselves. So interacting with your fans not only keeps them aware of your music, but gives you the opportunity to solidify your relationship with them. Every time a fan makes a comment or asks a question on your blog or through social media, you have the chance to respond and make them feel like they’re an active part of your career. But if you don’t respond, they just might pay more attention to an artist that will.

3. Creates "super fans"

As you solidify your relationship with fans and they start to feel like they’re going on this musical journey with you, some of them will become “super fans”. These are the fans that will buy almost everything you put out; from buttons to t-shirts, to limited edition items. They will also come to all your shows, and probably bring their friends. But most importantly, these are the fans that are going to talk about you and promote you through social media & blogs.

Whereas marketing used to focus on finding ways to communicate the value of your music to potential fans, now the key is getting fans themselves to communicate the value of your music to other people. Here’s why that’s so important:

Nielsen recently conducted a study that found that 54% of people are more likely to make a purchase based off a positive recommendation from a friend.

People are tuning out ads and giving more weight to the recommendations of their friends for what movies to watch, which books to read, and what music to listen to. So if you can get to the point where your fans are actively promoting you to their friends, chances are, your fan base will grow, and with it, the attendance at your live shows as well as your music sales.

And one of the best ways to create this kind of word-of-mouth marketing? Developing a relationship with your fans by interacting with them on a regular basis.

Hypebot contributing writer Dave Cool is the Director of Artist Relations for musician website and marketing platform Bandzoogle. Twitter: @Bandzoogle | @dave_cool


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  1. “Distribution is cheap” I have to ask how why so many people think that Distribution is cheap or should be free? A simple check of wikipedia for the term Distribution yields the following result.
    Product distribution (or place) is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. Distribution is the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user, using direct means, or using indirect means with intermediaries.The other three parts of the marketing mix are product, pricing, and promotion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_(business)
    Distribution is a service and what your get out of it mirrors what you put into it. Having one channel or many are choices and all too often the modern artists/label incorrectly seem to think that said Intertubes is the only form of distribution where going to make distribution go away. Well! guess what? It didn’t and now digital is just another channel.
    Even though I totally agree that we’re awash in music what I know thought experience is that Distribution is hard with both stores being interested or not to the real problem IMHO once they are it’s up to the artists/labels to get fans into the store/site to purchase said music. And, when it comes to planning a release strategies thinking your going to get use or consumption without action is without a parallel in any other business context.

  2. Distribution is indeed affordable, but there’s a reason why distribution companies exist. We can get you places other people can’t and take a huge monkey off your back.
    Tunecore/RN distribution is cheap, however they offer no marketing help which is why distribution companies trump their service in that area.
    You’re 100% on target by saying it mirrors what you put into it. You still have to market, make connection and stay relevant to your fan base, if you don’t distribution is only going to grant some listeners and no real monetary earnings.
    There might be too many channels, but that’s what happens when a few companies have a huge piece of the pie and don’t exactly make it a fair playing field. (hope I understood that part right)
    It’s *always* up to the artist/label to drive fans to purchase their music, it’s why branding is so essential.
    As for this article: Spot on, I tell this to artists on a daily basis. If you’re not connecting with your fans, you’re doomed.

  3. I personally do not think they NEED to interact with fans to be able to be successful and popular. It is an added benefit to both the artist and the fans but to be honest it is not at all needed in my opinion. People would still love the artists because of the songs.

  4. I agree with @Roach about interacting with fans, since the music biz is full of highly successful artists that have little to none interaction with their fans. There are quit a few artists that don’t want to talk to anyone on the business side let alone a fans. It’s just part of the business and thinking that every artists can be funneled into one category and that they’ll all step up and act a certain way or not is lunacy .

  5. @Roach @Nelson: I totally understand your point of view, and I’m sure many artists would agree with you. I’m just not sure it’s viable for emerging artists to ignore their fans.
    There are plenty of example of successful artists who you can’t find online/don’t interact with their fans, but more often than not they have teams behind them doing the heavy lifting (label, management, publicist, etc.).
    So for artists who don’t have a team (or a history on a label), I’m not sure they can realistically forge a sustainable career without interacting with their fans and creating solid relationships to them, at least at the outset. Of course, I could be dead wrong and I’m just 1 guy, so there you have it.
    Thanks for reading and for commenting.

    Dave Cool
    (Yes, that’s my real name)
    Director of Artist Relations
    Twitter: @dave_cool @Bandzoogle

  6. I agree with your point, the point I was making was strictly about digital distribution and how all artists now have access to stores like iTunes/Amazon, etc. Where as 15 years ago, it just wasn’t possible to reach a potential global customer base for a small fee.
    Now the challenge becomes driving people to buy your music, which is where the fan interaction comes into play. But yes, having a distributor that helps with marketing & promotion is obviously a different beast altogether, and no doubt can be helpful for those artists that have relationships to those distributors.

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