5 Ways to Treat Your Fans Like Gold

Not THAT kind of gold!

This guest contribution is written by Jon Ostrow (@jon_ostrow), cofounder of MicControl.com, Publicity Director of Cyber PR and blogger for Songtrust.com. Jon can be easily reached at any time on Twitter

As an emerging musician focusing your efforts online, building a strong and loyal fan base is the ‘secret sauce’ to success. Loyal fans purchase music, attend shows, evangelize your music and help you exponentially grow your fan base. Ultimately they’ll give you the leverage you need to pursue music on your own terms. When you have a cult following, you maintain creative control; no label in the world will try to mess with someone whose fan base is making them big money.

While this all sounds great, unfortunately there’s no “secret sauce” to help grow this kind of fan base. Some people find themselves naturally at the forefront of a movement. And others try for years to make it happen with little success. And while a secret sauce would be nice, the truth is there’s one constant that is guaranteed to get you moving in the right direction: Treat your fans like gold!

The idea of customer service may sound a little too ‘corporate’ for some of you, but in all honestly it’s something that you should ALL be thinking about as you’re interacting with fans and building a presence (and hopefully influence) online. Here are five important ways to treat your fans like gold.

1) Fans Are Not Numbers, They Are People

Something that so many artists and brands are guilty of doing too often is promoting the fact that they are only a certain number of fans away from hitting some milestone number on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Youtube videos,etc. This obsession with growing the numbers as big as possible is a continuation of the myspace era of social networking, and it really needs to stop. The best way to grow a truly loyal fan base is to nurture their loyalty from the very beginning, and nothing makes a fan feel less appreciated then making them feel like just a number.

Forget for a second that you are only 10 away from 4000 fans, and start to actually spend time appreciating and nurturing the fans that you DO have. Treat them as human beings, with care and respect, and they will start to reciprocate.

2) Give Your Fans a Human Response 

Speaking of treating your fans like humans and not numbers… fans want to know that on the other end of the computer there’s a human, not a robot responding to them. When fans reach out to you online — whether it’s to complement your music or ask you a personal question — respond with a personal touch and you’ll show them that you care enough to take the time to personally get back to them.

3) Under-Promise and Over Deliver

Regularly delivering value to your fans online is a big part of nurturing their loyalty. The more value you deliver on a consistent basis, the more loyal they will become. But with the idea of delivering value comes a problem that many artists run into, which is to make promises they don’t carry through. This could be in the form of promising a new song release on a certain date, promising a live performance like no other, or even simply promising that your music is”like nothing anyone has ever heard before.”

Let’s get something straight: fans hate nothing more than when a promise to them has been broken. Fans, as any customers and brand loyalists, are very delicate and will quickly feel betrayed and disrespected when they are promised something and then let down. The easy solution? Stop promising things…but you don’t really want to do that. The better idea is to under-promise and over deliver so that everything you give to your fans is received with delight!

4) Bring Your Fans on Your Journey 

You need to give your fans something to be loyal to if you want their loyalty to be directed towards your music. If you talk AT your fans and focus on “me, me, me,” they won’t have much to feel a connection with you. As far as they are concerned, they don’t exist in your world and so whether they stay or leave won’t mean much to you.

But if you talk WITH your fans and make them feel as though they are truly an important part of the well-oiled machine that is your music career, you can give them a sense of meaning and a reason to stick around. By bringing them on your (‘your’ as a collective of you and your fan base) journey on a regular basis, your fans will have that special something to feel loyal to and support in all ways that they can.

5) The Follow Up! 

This couldn’t be simpler, and yet it’s one of the most important things you can do. If your fans come out to a show and sign up for a mailing list, or join a mailing list to download a new song, or have commented saying how much they like your music, FOLLOW UP with them and thank them for doing so. The follow up is widely viewed as THE most important part of growing a loyal fan base and it’s absolutely essential that you embrace the idea in any way that you can. Nothing says ‘human response’ and ‘I truly appreciate you being a part of our journey’ as a simple follow up.

Plain and simple, don’t make the mistake of missing this incredibly important  — and incredibly easy  — opportunity to nurture the loyalty of your fans.

How Do YOU Treat Your Fans Like Gold?

These five ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg! We want to hear from all of you about how you treat your fans like gold, so please leave your stories, suggestions and/or feedback in the form of a comment below.


Sam5 Ways to Treat Your Fans Like Gold
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Licensing Success in Seven Steps: Reverb Artist Shares her Secrets

NOTE: We’re proud to publish this guest column from long-term ReverbNation artist Cheryl B. Engelhardt. Not only is she sharing valuable information and excerpts from her e-course, “In The Key Of Success: The Five Week Jump-Start Strategy,” she’s also offering the whole course to fellow ReverbNation musicians at deep discount. Keep reading to find out more.

So you’ve made a record. Hopefully you’re starting to look at yourself like a business with a product to sell and money to make. Taking that product and using it as your source of income is key to achieving financial stability. Make your music work for you, and look for income opportunities that will create continuous streams of money, not just single payments.

As an artist, there are several ways to make money through your music, but these are the three you should be most concerned with:

1. Distributing and selling your music (CDs and digital sales)
2. Licensing your music and collecting sync fees and royalties (TV, film, commercial, online-videos, radio, in-store, and other placements)
3. Touring and collecting ticket sales (as well as merchandise and CD sales)

Personally, I add a fourth category that not all singer/songwriters are interested in pursuing:

4. Composing music (writing music for a specific project or media outlet).

“Passive income” is the term financial coaches and other moola-savvy folks use to describe the income that grows over time or continues to come in without you having to do any additional work. Sounds good, right? Royalties from a music placement in a TV show are one example. In fact, royalties are the best source of passive income a musician can hope for. Sure, you can sell CDs and tickets to shows and get some quick cash. But making the CD work long-term is the goal of licensing and publishing. Also, co-writing with others who will be selling their music, can be a fruitful source of passive income. One co-writing session and years of radio and sync fees could be headed your way. For now though, lets focus on licensing.

Understand what it’s all about

In a nutshell, the way music licensing works is you send your music to a publishing company, music library, or film / TV show itself for consideration. Make sure that your music is copyrighted and registered with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) like ASCAP, BMI or SESAC.

It’s important to understand how you get paid from your music being placed in any form of media. From there, you can figure out which avenue you’d like to pursue. Figuring out all the different ways to get paid has taken me years. The main points to understand are:

  • The difference between publisher’s share and writer’s share
  • What master, mechanical, and sync licenses are referring to
  • Who pays what, and how you get your cash

There’s good five pages explaining each of the above in my E-course, so you can head there (discount code at the bottom!) to dig in deeper. Once you’ve understood the ways you get paid, you can move on to taking action to start making money!

1) Shake what yo mama gave you!

The first thing you can do is to use the resources you already have. I suggest making a list of the people, things, opportunities and skills you know you have. Once you see what you’ve already got, turn those into opportunities. For example, I had ReverbNation on my list under “websites I’m on.” This one item on my list turned into several thousands of dollars almost a year later. Here’s how: I saw that ReverbNation was offering a licensing program in conjunction with APM Music*. I submitted a song for free, and it was approved and become part of APM’s music library. Within two months of submitting, I was seeing it all over the ABC Family channel. A few months later, the same song was on “So You Think You Can Dance” (video below). These are media outlets I would not have otherwise had access to and came out of making one little list with “websites I’m on.”

2) Know your audience, and create opportunities for them

Get familiar with all the media outlets that could use music like yours. Watch TV shows that place songs in your genre. Look up the music supervisor. Do a search for publishing companies in your city and try to set up a face-to-face meeting to learn more about their operations and how you can help them out. (If you found a company that needs your kind of music, you’re providing them with the content they need and you are making your music more valuable!) Make your music an opportunity for them. 

3) Branch out

Look beyond TV shows and films to place your music. Develop relationships with online content creators. These folks are accessing a new niche of media that needs music. They will be the future viral video directors, TV writers, and film producers. While much of online video content production has smaller budgets and less chance of continued income, the opportunities in this arena are really limitless and may be worth your while to check out. Look into web series, viral YouTube videos, and animation sites.

Another place to look is independent films. If you are looking to break into the world of indie films, a great place to start is Craigslist. My sneaky and fun way of getting a few music placement and film composing gigs is looking up film auditions on Craigslist, going to the audition (no, I have never been cast… yet!), bringing up that I am interested in being involved with the film in their post- production process, and letting them know I can be a music resource. I usually get a call- back… and not for the part. (Note: If I ever am offered any part, I will take it. Do not waste these people’s time by showing up to an audition with no intention of taking a part. That would be super jerky of you.)

4) Get busy!

Figuring out where to send your music takes a bit of research and legwork. Get yourself organized in your research. Make a list of every TV show or film that you have seen (and ask some fans and friends to help you on this) where you have thought “Man! My song blahbitiboo would have been perfect in this.” Then look up that show on IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) or Google, and find the music producer or music supervisor. Look up their company. Their name and company and contact info goes on this list. I would contact them first to see if they accept unsolicited records. If they do, great! Head to the post office!

5) Create your mailing package

I strongly recommend sending a neat CD package of both the real CD (with all the vocal tracks) and a CD of the instrumental-only tracks. It’s been said that you increase your chance of placing your music by 50% if instrumental tracks are available. In fact, I would say that about half of my TV placements have been the music only, without the vocals. (Sometimes they may like the feel and energy of the track, but the lyrics don’t match the scene, or there may be a lot of dialogue so lyrics get in the way.)

6) Responsible follow-up

After you send the CDs, follow up within two weeks to make sure they got your package and have listened. If they think your entire record, or certain songs from your record could be a fit for their program, they will have you sign a “licensing deal.” This deal will allow them, the “Licensor” to use your music, sometimes exclusively, sometimes non-exclusively, for a period of time. This period can range from a year (with a big library like APM Music) to “in perpetuity,” a.k.a. forever (like with a publishing company such as Heavy Hitters Music). Some folks like to add a clause in the contract that if the track doesn’t make a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time, the track is yours to shop around again.

If that haven’t heard your package yet, ask them when they will be getting to it so you can follow up. Have the intention that they listen to your music. Don’t be desperate for them to want to sign you right now. Baby steps work, especially when you are committed every step of the way.

7) Submit to everything

I saw an opportunity on the ReverbNation site that called for a song for a Microsoft campaign. My first thought was “oh geez, everyone and their mother is going to submit to this, I’ll never get heard. Plus, I use a Mac.” But I submitted my tune anyway and ended up winning over $500 through the promotion. You never know what people will latch on to. (I mean, look up Boo The Dog on YouTube. Seriously?)

So that’s all for now. Take these steps and make them your own. Figure out your own systems and what works in your life. Once you’ve got your system in place, keep at it like your life depends on it. If you’re a full-time musician, it sort of does, right?

* ReverbNation and APM Music regularly invite new artists to participate in the Song Licensing Program. Invites are sent out to ReverbNation artists who are active users of the site, have complete profiles, and whose music fits what music supervisors are seeking. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/main/apm

Cheryl B. Engelhardt is a composer for films, ads and CollegeHumor.com, and a singer/songwriter who’s booked a bunch of tours around the USA and Europe and gotten her recorded music placed on TV shows. Her website is www.CBEmusic.com and she writes a music industry blog called Living On Gigging. You can follow her on Twitter @CBE.

 She just released “In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump- Start Strategy,” an E-Course for independent musicians on how to jump-start their careers to radically change the results. If you liked this article, check out the rest of Cheryl’s E-course. She guarantees you will get results that you want, or your money back. And because you are a ReverbNation artist, you get a ridiculous 70% discount off the normal selling price by typing in REVERBN8TION when you go here: http://www.cbemusic.com/ecourse.

ShellyLicensing Success in Seven Steps: Reverb Artist Shares her Secrets
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Electronica Producer Kastle Announces ReverbNation Winner for his Remix Contest

“It was great working with ReverbNation and reaching out to all of their artists. We had such a diverse selection of entries, thanks to all who entered and participated!” – Kastle

The backstory: ReverbNation, in partnership with label Seclusiasis, ran a dope remix challenge back in August.  Hundreds of contestants submitted their remix to Kastle’s track “I Know” for the chance to receive a single release on the label.
The man: San Francisco-based, DJ/producer Barrett Richards (aka Kastle) has cultivated his own style of bass-heavy beats with a soulful twist reminiscent of classic Chicago house. Although it’s too late to get in on this opportunity, it’s not too late to discover Kastle for yourself. Listen to his tracks here.
The track: Kastle’s “I Know” is stunning critics with its “pitched-up vocal stabs, floating electric pianos, wobbly bass, and jangly broken beats.”


And the winner is… inflect, a Nebraska producer who has shared the stage with such acts as The Glitch Mob, STS9, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, EPROM, Nosaj Thing, Machinedrum, EOTO, Dubbel Dutch, Mux Mool, and many more.

Be the first to listen to inflect’s remix, which single release on Seclusiasis will be out next month:


Here’s what the label had to say about inflect:
The one remix that stood out on top above the rest is by a young producer/DJ from Lincoln, Nebraska – inflect. In his thumping club ready remix, he takes the essence of the original song and twists it up with some techy sensibilities, giving it a new life while still maintaining a nod back to the Kastle original.
“So much dope stuff came through, but inflect’s joint stuck out as the one that bumped the most!” – Dev79, Seclusiasis co-owner
JUST IN! Seclusiasis has decided to add a twist to the competition.
In recognition of all the excellent remixes submitted, they’ve decided to make the release an EP and include three runners-up as well. On the “I Know” Remix EP set to drop in March on Seclusiasis, in addition to inflect’s remix they’ll also be including some heated reworks by Reverb artists, Krueger, +Verb and Direct Feed.”
 “We’re hype to have done this competition with ReverbNation and see so many people excited to submit their remixes.” – Starkey, Seclusiasis co-owner
Want to be part of next remix contest? Follow us on Twitter for updates on new opportunities!
SamElectronica Producer Kastle Announces ReverbNation Winner for his Remix Contest
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