As Craig Finn, lead singer of the Hold Steady sings on “Positive Jam,” the first song on the band’s first album, we live in a world that is “wired and well connected.” And needless to say, that connectivity spills over into the music world, as well. At no time in history have bands been more exposed to their audience, and communication with fans has become part of many artist’s brands these days.
It seems the days of the enigmatic rock star are gone. Instead of wondering just how Kate Bush came up with all those surrealistic lyrics and, moreover, who she actually is as a person, we read Adele personally announce her upcoming throat surgery on her blog and Nickelback tweet “Happy Birthday” to specific fans. Things have changed.
But one result of this free exchange of ideas back and forth is that fans are getting actively involved in the creation of the music. Instead of just using the net as a way to get to know fans “personally,” many musicians are using the connection to help there career. Here are a few ways that you can get your fans directly involved in your music.
Use Sites Like Kickstarter and PledgeMusic
Late in the last decade, sites like Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, Sellaband and more began popping up and allowing musicians to reach out to their fans to fund recordings, tours, and other aspects of being an artist. Since then, these sites have been used by everyone from artists just trying to record their debut albums to more established bands that are eschewing the record label process.
In return for funding, donators often are given perks such as free copies of the resulting album (or tickets to a tour), exclusive unreleased tracks and much more. This not only helps the musicians raise money they otherwise lack, but also lets the fans feel like they have contributed to the band’s creative process. Additionally, it creates a communal feeling for fans, which brings us to our next point.
Create a Community Around Your Music
As mentioned before, in today’s music industry climate, fans often expect to be taken into the inner fold of a band, or at least feel like they are. The exclusives offered to donators in the last section are an example of this, but there are many other ways to make your fans feel like they are actually part of the music.
In addition to more standard practices like an often-updated Facebook page or an email list, create other ways to reach out to your fans. Use the above Nickelback example to make an effort to communicate with fans on a personal level via Twitter, or create a contest on your Facebook page that rewards the person with the best band promotion tactic with a handwritten letter. The possibilities for making this happen are endless, and is one of the easiest way to create a dedicated following that will be sure to purchase your next record or buy tickets to a concert the next time you come to their town.
Use YouTube to Bring Concerts to the Fans
Speaking to the last point, maybe your band doesn’t yet have the following (or Kickstarter funds) to take on a large-scale tour. But that doesn’t mean you should not provide a live experience to bands that can’t actually attend your shows.
This doesn’t have to be a professionally shot HD experience, but a good quality video with decent sound – even if its shot in a basement in front of a few friends rather than at your local venue – will be a great way to introduce your live show to fans around the world. Post the video on your YouTube page, and when you do finally have the funds for a tour, you are guaranteed to attract those that were impressed by the live show they saw on the internet.
None of these tactics are by any means novel or innovative in this day and age, but the most important advice is that you’ve got to be proactive about them all, and you have to consistently find new ways to make fans feel like they are part of a community. Setting up a Facebook page with some information about the band that you then neglect for months at a time will do little to help your cause.
Put yourself out there, and do it over and over again. There are many great ways to connect with your fans, and they expect those connections. You’ll have a sizable and, importantly, dedicated fanbase in no time.