Connecting With Fans And Giving Them A Reason To Buy Requires A Lot Of Experimenting
from the some-will-fail-spectacularly,-but-some-will-succeed-spectacularly dept
With my big post explaining the whole CwF+RtB concept in a lot more detail, complete with examples of many artists, small to big, who are using it, we’ve been hearing about more and more artists. It’s really great, and it’s often difficult to choose which ones are worth writing up. But sometimes an example comes along that really highlights a point that hasn’t necessarily been driven home before, and that helps make the decision easy. ChurchHatesTucker points us to a recent blog post by singer Marian Call in which she talks about her various experiments in connecting with fans and the surprise result of giving them a reason to buy. I can’t emphasize enough that the whole post is worth reading, but I’ll share a few highlights.
First, she talks about how much value there is in really connecting with your fans over social networks, and that doesn’t mean just putting out blast messages about what you’re doing, but also reading about what they’re doing — and, at times, going beyond that, including visiting “their websites, blogs, photo albums once in a while.” Obviously, you can’t do this all the time or with every fan, but it certainly does help connect with many fans in a very genuine way. It’s not marketing, it’s about making a connection and building a real relationship.
But the bigger point that she makes is that all of this — both sides of the CwF + RtB equation — require an awful lot of experimenting:
About twice a week I think, “Why don’t I try this crazy idea and see if it works?” about some element of my career. With no label, no manager, and no inner voice of reason slow me down, I get to experiment all I want. 90% of my crazy ideas have to do with social networking — which I spend half a lifetime doing, despite the crap I take from my family and Real Life friends. (Hey, some of us actually do bond over web comics, starship replicas, the fail whale, and photos of stuff on cats.) Mostly my nutty ideas work just a little bit. Some are epic failures. But my experimental flopping and floundering inches me closer to the day when I’ll be totally financially independent as a full-time musician. Plus it’s more fun than having a real job.
But every now and then a crazy idea works really really really good. Bam!
The really good idea in this case? She was performing a live gig at Whole Wheat Radio that was to be streamed online, and in a quick & dirty way, decided to offer up a special limited edition “bootleg” CD of live tracks. She said that her Twitter and Facebook friends had been complaining that she hadn’t released any new music in a while, and she’s still working on her next “studio” album — but in just two hours she was able to assemble everything she needed for the Marian Call Bootleg Album, which she decided to make available for one night only. How did it work out?
I planned to sell 20-40 of my little bootleg CD’s. Silly me. I sold well over 200. My little stack of jewel cases looked so pathetic.
WholeWheatRadio.org broke every record for online listenership, CD sales, tips — everything. The more listeners tuned in, the more tuned in, and the more money they gave, the more money they gave. The crowd online was thrilled to be breaking WWR records. I drove away from Talkeetna having earned about $4,000 in one night, with a new CD to produce in just a couple of days and an avalanche of e-mail and publicity requests to deal with. Seldom have I been so happy and so panicked.
Again, this isn’t the solution for everyone. But it shows how really connecting with fans, and trying different stuff out continuously, helps. Eventually, one or more of those ideas takes off with great results. While she may not be a full-time musician yet, it certainly seems like Marian has all the right pieces in place (and, yes, that includes great music).