5 Ways to Make Your Fans Feel Special

You’re probably used to drafting up fan-oriented Facebook posts and newsletters, but one hurdle many artists can’t surmount is how to give individual fans the attention they crave. After all, you’re busy marketing, promoting shows, booking tours, and, oh yeah, making music. At the end of the day, there’s no time or money left over for extensive chats with single fans on a regular basis.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to make connections with individual fans that cost you nothing and take virtually no time at all. Try these five ways to build those connections and get to know each of your fans a bit better.

1. Create a private Facebook group

It’s overwhelming to try and interact one-on-one with your most loyal fans, but by creating a private Facebook group and inviting those most devoted to join, you’re not only able to give them extra attention, but also build your fan network by introducing your biggest fans to one another. This could also lead into creating a passionate and cohesive street team; after all, it’s easier to brainstorm and plan using Facebook threads.

For a little extra zing of specialness, make sure you name the group something like “[Your Band Name] VIPs” – something that denotes that the group is exclusive. Post first-listens, demos, or show off your album art before revealing it to the world. Incorporate your typical social media content in the group, too, but make sure to sprinkle in enough exclusives to reinforce its specialness. Be sure to check in at least once a day and “like” and comment on every post. Seriously.

2. Host Google hangouts

For an even less time-consuming option, set aside an hour a month and host a Google hangout for your hardcore fans. Hand-select who gets to attend, and make it into a contest if you feel your fanbase would be into the idea. Though some might be bummed they missed out on a hangout, always remind your fans that there will be another next month – then direct them to where they can either sign up for your newsletter, enter the contest, or whatever entry venue you choose, if you choose one.

During the hangout, chat about your life, talk about your music, introduce your fans to your cat or significant other, or play some covers. The possibilities are really endless, and you can feel free to get as personal as you like. Bonus points if you remember something personal about your fans from their Facebook posts. For example, play a song and dedicated to someone in the hangout because you know it’s his or her favorite.

3. Follow them back

Seems stupidly simple, right? It takes milliseconds, yet it means the world to fans. No matter who you are, you’re going to get excited if one of your favorite musicians follows you back on Twitter or Instagram because it’s a real rarity.

But who do you follow back? A good rule of thumb is if you recognize the person from one of your shows or from another platform, or if that person directly interacts with you via a tweet or comment, follow him or her back. That fan is more invested than folks who just follow indiscriminately and never engage.

If you want to go the extra mile, “like” and comment on their posts, and make sure that they know you’re noticing them. Those miniscule interactions mean so much.

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4. Give them free stuff

No duh, right? Human beings love free stuff. Your fans probably have already picked over your merch table, but if you see one of your devotees hanging out after a show, ask him or her which items appeal to him or her the most. Then, graciously give him or her one. Sure, it’ll eat into a fraction of your merch take at the end of the night (and, speaking as a former merch girl, make sure you let whoever’s manning the merch booth know you’re taking something so the count isn’t off), but it’ll ingratiate you with that fan forever.

Also, if you’re given free drink tickets by the venue, slip a few to your biggest fans. This is a surefire, no-cost method to reward your fans, and some might even be excited that you’re “buying them a drink.”

5. Send them video replies

One of the latest Twitter trends is video replies. Next time a fan tweets at you, instead of just “favoriting” the tweet or shooting over a quick reply, take 30 seconds and make a short video on your iPhone. It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn-out message; simply say, “Hey [name]! Thanks for listening to my new track! So glad you like it. Hope to say hi at my gig this weekend in Cleveland!” (If that person is from Cleveland – if not, mention gigs in his or her area.)

Make sure to always personalize the tweet with that person’s name. Besides making him or her feel special, it removes any doubt that it’s just a generic video you send to everyone.

Remember that even the most minute effort on your part means so much to your fans. Even more importantly, keep in mind that music isn’t a one-way street; the most beloved musicians try to give back to their fans as much as they get, so if you don’t currently have a fan-oriented marketing strategy in place, it’s time to adopt one.

Allison Johnelle Boron is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Goldmine magazine, Paste, and more. She is the founder of REBEAT, a “blogazine” focused on mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle.

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4 Steps to Building Community Engagement Online and Off

Have you ever wondered how some artists seem to have all the luck? How they’ve acquired troves of dedicated fans, and seem to constantly be in motion, be it with a new single, tour, or video? How is it that they seem to have such a solid support system, when by all accounts you’re just as talented, have been around just as long, and are perhaps even in the same market?

The answer is community. The artists who have learned to leverage the power of community are the artists you’ve heard about. It’s as simple as that.

The good news is that anyone can tap into this golden resource, and by doing so, you open up your visibility and your connection with fans. And to be honest, it’s a whole lot more fun than tweeting to no one and hoping your post gets a few likes.

When you build your community and engage them, you know your audience is waiting to hear from you, you know they’re going to click “like” and comment, and most of all, you know you can count on their support. So how do we make this happen?

1. Don’t be boring online

This seems simple enough, right? But if you struggle with posting regularly and keeping it engaging (i.e., not just posting about your shows and music), you’re not alone. This is one of the main struggles I see artists face, and unfortunately it’s a big one, because let’s face it — if you’re boring online, no one is paying attention and your career is going to get stagnant fast.

Take the time to get clear on your brand, and then bring that brand to your audience. Show them who you are beyond the music, and I promise you’ll hook more fans than if you just spam them with info on your shows and new releases.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the number-one thing I ask artists to remember and live by when it comes to posting online is that there’s a lot of great music out there, but there’s only one “you.” Your music could get you a lot of fans — maybe even a few big fans. But it’s your personality; their connection to you as a person; and your values, beliefs, and ideals that are going to bring you those superfans. Trust me on this one.

2. Use your shows as the networking opportunity they are

Please don’t be that band that goes onstage, plays a set, and then either slinks off to the back to hide or leaves the venue. Your shows are a prime networking opportunity and a chance to build your community from the ground up, while engaging in real time.

Remember that whole “show them your personality” thing I was just saying? This really comes into play here. Use your shows as an opportunity to connect with the audience, the other bands on the bill, and even the venue workers.

I know, I know — it can feel awkward and uncomfortable to approach people you don’t know and ask them how they’re liking the show, or what their favorite local band is, or simply introduce yourself and thank them for coming out (people really remember that kind of thing). But would you rather be comfortable with no fans, or break out of your shell in the name of success?

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3. Get involved in existing communities

There are so many opportunities — both online and off — to embed yourself in an existing community, and then leverage that built-in audience to spread your message in the most authentic way possible.

Here are some examples:

  • Get active in Facebook groups by offering your knowledge and expertise whenever possible. There are so many to choose from, ranging from networking groups that connect musicians and industry people across the world, to genre-specific groups, to city-specific groups. Find the ones you fit best in, and then get active in there. The more often people see your name pop up and associate it with a general helpfulness, the more weight your name begins to carry.
  • Get out there and go to local shows that aren’t your own. Find the bands after their set, congratulate them, introduce yourself, and really get to know them. This is important — it’s not enough to just say “great set” and move on. Make the time to follow up with them and build a real connection.
  • Find local opportunities that have nothing to do with music, and get yourself involved. There’s a lot of value in being a part of community events where your target audience is bound to be, and just getting to know people as people. When it feels appropriate, it’s okay to mention your band, but that shouldn’t be what you lead with. Again, this goes back to the idea that if you can hook people on your personality, they’re much more likely to support your music.

4. Listen to what your fans say (as well as what they don’t)

If you have 200 diehard fans constantly asking you to play in Arizona, you better find a way to get to Arizona. Once you’re there, you need to interact with those fans like crazy. Hang out with them before the show. Ask to sleep at their house if it seems appropriate. Talk to them about what the Arizona scene is like, what they enjoy, what they wish was different. Take notes.

If your fans keep telling you they love a certain song that you’ve only been playing live, consider making that your next single. If the photos you post of your dog get the most attention, do more of that. If your fans go to Warped Tour, do the battle of the bands to get on there. (And even if you don’t, be one of those bands that stands outside the venue giving away stickers and chatting with people in line while sharing your music and swapping stories.) Take every single opportunity you can to get closer to your existing fans, and to get to know potential fans.

Just as important, however, is to listen to what they aren’t saying. If no one is liking or engaging with your 12th post about Saturday’s show, stop doing that. If you dropped a single with no warning and no one is listening or cares, don’t do that again. If no one is coming out to your shows, think about why that could be (are you boring onstage? Do you play out too often? Who are you sharing the bill with?) and rectify the situation.

There are so many learning opportunities, and the truth is that your audience will tell you what they want — you just have to be willing to listen. Sometimes, you’ll find that what your audience wants isn’t necessarily what you set out to create — but sometimes that’s okay. You just have to be willing to be flexible while balancing what’s most important to you.

If they want more covers, give it to them. If they’re telling you they want less hometown shows by not showing up, be willing to adjust. Be flexible and always be willing to learn from your experiences.

The answers to your struggles — and your future fans — are right there waiting for you; you just have to be willing to listen, and to break outside your comfort zone.

Angela Mastrogiacomo is a pop-punk enthusiast and the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR and Infectious Magazine. You can find hanging out with her dog, eating sweets, and curled up with a good book. Read more at http://angelamastrogiacomo.com/

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6 Tips on Creating Viral Video Content for Your Band

Zac Green from popular music blog ZingInstruments.com walks us through some important tips on creating viral video content for your band.

YouTube is one of the best platforms for promoting your music and building a huge fanbase. Music videos are among the most watched types of content, and when these go viral it can often catapult a band from relatively unknown to international fame in a matter of days.

But what actually makes a video go viral on YouTube, and how can your band get that to happen? Despite the seemingly arbitrary manner in which some videos go viral and others don’t, many viral music videos have a number of attributes in common with each other.

Here’s six tips on creating viral video content for your band.

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How to Contact Music Journalists on Social Media

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. This shouldn’t be news. These days, it’s easier than ever to connect with friends, fans, and total strangers. For musicians, it opens new portals to press opportunities and even lucrative contracts, but as with everything, there’s a certain level of finesse for each and every action.

Unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever tried online dating will tell you, a certain level of decorum disappears when people are protected by the internet’s veil of anonymity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to retain dignity and treat others, particularly music industry professionals you’d like to work with in some capacity, with the same respect you’d show total strangers in real life

As a music journalist in the digital age, my inbox is literally bombarded with cold calls and requests for coverage from artists and publicists alike. That’s to be expected and while it’s somewhat annoying when the requests obviously aren’t genuine or were mass sent, the real frustration comes when my social channels are bogged down with insistent, even aggressive, messages. And, like online dating, there’s barely a, “Hi! How are you?” before the sender explains what he or she wants in explicit detail.

This isn’t to say that you should never try to connect via social media. On the contrary, if done properly, it’s a great entre onto a writer’s radar. Here are a few tips to contact music journalists on social media.

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How to Build and Maintain Long Lasting Relationships in the Music Industry

Relationship building is the cornerstone of the music industry, and yet, it’s one of the areas that artists most struggle with. As an introvert myself, I get it. But as a business owner, I push past it. Whether you own a business or you’re an artist in charge of your career, you are a business, and you must operate as one. So I won’t sugar coat this — relationship building is a key component to career success, and if you’re not willing to push outside your comfort zone to begin establishing relationships, your career is going to stall.

So let’s get into it, shall we?

RebeccaHow to Build and Maintain Long Lasting Relationships in the Music Industry
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5 Ways to Give Back Through Music

Music can be restorative, empowering, therapeutic; these are indisputable, time-tested truths. As a musician, you’ve got the power to bring those benefits to anyone who’ll listen — and you can amplify those effects through charitable organizations.

Whether it’s volunteering your skills, teaching kids, leading a workshop, or donating funds raised through special shows, your contribution — big or small — could make a huge impact. We’ve rounded up five music-centric organizations that welcome help year-round; read on to learn more about their efforts and how you can give back through music.

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3 Tips to Protect Your Music if SoundCloud Goes Bust

You may have heard the news concerning SoundCloud’s future. No one can see into the future, but what if SoundCloud does go away? What will happen to your music? How about your fans? Where will they go? IS IT TIME TO FREAK OUT YET?!!!!! Well, no. But, also, kind of yes.

Regardless of what actually happens to SoundCloud, this should be a moment of awakening for artists of all types. There are a few actions you can take – right…dang….now – to protect your music and your digital relationships with fans in uncertain times like these. And yes, before we go any further, let’s address the elephant in the room:

Is ReverbNation a good replacement for SoundCloud?

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4 Tips to Personalize Your Social Media Promotion

When you’re marketing your music on social media, it can be tempting to use the formal, corporate voice we’re used to seeing in advertising, but that isn’t necessarily the best way to connect with your loyal and prospective fans. Using a more modern and personable voice can help humanize your advertising, making it feel less like a sales pitch and more like a friend offering something that will actually make life better.

Below, we’ve outlined a few tips to keep your social media promotion personable and unique to your own voice. However, bear in mind that it is possible to go too far in trying to be personal — you don’t want a tweet to go viral for the wrong reasons. Keep it real, but always keep it professional.

Rebecca4 Tips to Personalize Your Social Media Promotion
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