My name is BJ Barham and I am the singer/songwriter for the Raleigh, NC band, American Aquarium. Recently, Bandsintown named us the hardest working band of 2014 with the most shows out of all other bands on their platform. While most of our energy is focused on touring and live shows, a lot of our time is also spent trying to figure out ways to make our fans happier.
First off, I am all for Spotify. I personally have a premium subscription to their service. As someone who spends 95% of my life in a van, on the go, I enjoy being able to find new artists, sample their albums and decide how much I, the consumer, want to support their art, all from the comfort of my bench seat in the van. In an ever-changing music industry, one must adapt to survive. If I listen to a record on Spotify and like it, I get in my car, drive to Schoolkids Records in Raleigh,NC and I buy a vinyl copy of the record. I also go to shows and buy merchandise. I think THIS is the new business model. Let your record stand on its own. If enough people like it, they WILL support you. We are a living, breathing example of this model working.
Feeling that I was the only musician alive that felt this way, I took to social media to see what our fans had to say about the matter and the feedback only cemented what we already knew. Yes, they listen to our music for free, but its so much more than that. They share that free music, which leads to more people PAYING to come see our live show, more people PAYING for physical copies of our records, be it vinyl or CD. We forget about the $9 we lost on iTunes after someone pays a $15-$20 cover to see us live, or $25 for a shirt or limited edition screen-print. We believe in our songs enough to give them away for free. We are confident enough in our music to know people will support us in other ways. We have made a decade long career off of this blind faith in our fanbase.
Our fanbase made a ton of great points that only echo the mission statement this band has had since day one: If you take care of the fanbase, then the fanbase will take care of you. It’s that easy. Build relationships with your fans, shake hands, sign whatever they want you to sign, hang out after shows, and be available. In return, they will allow you to play music for the rest of your life. It's a no-brainer from where we’re standing.
There was so much awesome feedback from folks that it was hard to pick the best ones, but we think that this infographic makes our point very clear and it’s straight from the mouths of the folks that really matter - the fans.
See y’all at the rock show,