In my last post, ‘Music; for free or not for free‘, I attempted to put a value on music, in an effort to establish whether it is better for a band to give away their music in the early part of their career. My conclusion was ‘yes’, based on making it as easy as possible for potential fans coming across you for the first time to take a listen. In the post I also touched on the need to build a relationship with your fans. A relationship which hopefully leads to a long term association, where the band provide entertainment in return for the support of their fan base.
I use the word entertainment above, rather than simply music, because a relationship is built on more than just selling a product. Let’s consider a simple analogy. You’re hanging out with other band members at a party and someone comes over and says hello. Would you:
a) ask if they wanted to buy an album
b) tell them your name and start talking about what you do
c) exchange names and ask them about themselves?
You don’t need to have many ‘how to make friends’ self-help books to realise the answer is c). Nobody wants to spend much time with someone who talks about themselves endlessly.
How does this help a band start to build a relationship with fans?
For a start, I would suggest you see your fans as individuals, each with their own reason for connecting with what you do, so be interested in them, find out what it is they like. Learn to remember people’s names and something about them. How good does it feel when someone you’ve only met once bumps into you and remembers your name and even just a snippet of the conversation you were having last time you met? If feels good, right? Next time you see them go over and say hello, or say ‘hi’ from the stage. We all appreciate being noticed and we remember these little things.
This perspective fits in with an article I read some time ago, which pointed out that it is not the music people talk about among their friends after a show. It is usually the antics of the band members or some aspect of the show. This rang so true to me and like most moments of enlightenment, was bloody obvious. So saying ‘hi’ during a performance, to someone you’ve met at a previous gig, becomes the story they tell. There is also the potential additional benefit that other people at the gig will measure what sort of people you are by that simple act. It makes you friendly and approachable. Your behaviour gives people an insight in to who you are. Just in the same way we choose a friend because we ‘like’ something about them, fans choose bands because they like something about them, and it doesn’t have to be just the music. This might seem obvious but is sure easy to forget when you’re busy counting heads at your latest gig, trying to establish whether things are headed in the right direction. And guess what? You’re going to make some great friends along the way.
Remember, you’re looking to build long term connections here. A ‘fan’ will see beyond just your music. They’re joining you on a journey and, like a good friend, will forgive the odd slip up (duff track or even album). If the relationship is dependent purely on you consistently knocking out tracks they love, the pressure is really on. I’d be surprised if anyone out there loves everything their favourite artist has done but, like a friend, you’re lenient and forgive the occasional misdemeanor, even look for the good in a bad situation.
How does this tie in to distributing your music?
When selling CDs during the break or at the end of a gig, make the transaction more about getting to know the purchaser rather than the hasty exchange of cash. Why not give all band members a stack of discs. This will not only reduce queues while you’re chatting, it gives people the option of who to approach. As mentioned earlier, people will have different reasons for liking what you do, and similarly they will be drawn to different band members, so all of you should be accessible.
And for those not ready to part with some hard cash, why not set up your laptop or tablet and try out the NoiseTrade email collection tool, where you can exchange a free track for their email address. You then have the means to pursue the relationship at a later date. Chat to people while their waiting to grab their free track.
Note to self: remember all this at every gig.
We (Lazy Daze) have got a number of gigs lined up in early May and will be putting these ideas into action. I’ll make sure I let you know how it goes. After all, theories are one thing, putting them into practice is another. So, should you ever find yourself at a Lazy Daze gig be sure to say hello. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by. I hope some of this made sense and proves useful. Next time I’ll write about building relationships via social media. Getting good with Facebook, Twitter etc is vital and is an in area where we need to up our game.