Connecting With Fans Is An Ongoing Process: Do Something Small Weekly, Big Monthly

from the one-mantra dept

I’ve been meaning to write about Topspin CEO Ian Rogers’ “moonlighting” foray into managing the band Get Busy Committee. Given Ian’s close involvement with new music business models, it’s no surprise that he’s been doing a lot of interesting things, from selling uzi-shaped USB keys with the album (the album is called “Uzi Does It”) to using Kickstarter to fund a vinyl picture disc — including an offer for $1,000 to have the band write a song about the buyer, which would go on the release. It turns out that option sold out in a day (though it looks like some of the other options are still a bit short on buyers).

What’s really great, though, is that Ian is revealing as much of the process as he has time for in semi-regular blog posts. Recently, he explained part of the general thinking that he’s been pushing on the band, that they should: “Do Something Small Weekly, Something Big Monthly.” The specific implementation doesn’t fit for all content creators (or even all musicians), but the concept is a good one. It’s a recognition that the old way a content creator related with fans was through major one-off “releases” (new album, new book, new concert, etc.). But times have changed, and the way you connect with fans is an ongoing process, and like it or not (and plenty don’t like it), there is a sense of “what have you done for me lately.” But if you’re going to thrive in that sort of world, you have to keep doing stuff and keep experimenting. Setting a specific pace (something small weekly, something big monthly) is quite a useful way for many to think about this sort of experimentation in small, easy to comprehend and implement steps.

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Comments on “Connecting With Fans Is An Ongoing Process: Do Something Small Weekly, Big Monthly”

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ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:


I’ve noticed a lot of artists use Twitter for this sort of thing (well, the ‘something small’ part.) It’s free and easy to use, and fans appreciate it. (Seems to work best for the smaller artists, or maybe it’s that they have the time to use it more often?) It’s genuinely useful for the artists, too, since they have a hive mind at their disposal (especially useful when touring.)

kyle clements (profile) says:

This must be done with caution.
There is a fine line between keeping excitement alive, and overexposure. you don’t want to pull the curtain back too far.

Currently, I think nine inch nails does a good job of this. Lately, they have posted several photos of studio gear, each one titled “?”. No explanation is given, nothing to provide context. It implies that studio work is being done, but it doesn’t say what, and that sort of mystery gets a fan’s mind racing. They are also beautiful photographs in their own right.

It’s small, but its something. When a website goes months without being updated, I will stop checking it, and quickly forget about it.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

It's the responding that is time consuming

I think putting out something (e.g, a newsletter, a video) weekly is a good idea. And it shouldn’t take all that much time.

But what is hard, especially as the artist/band gets more fans, is responding. Either you respond to every email, tweet, message, etc., or you only do it selectively, which means fans are writing to you and you aren’t writing all of them back.

I personally think it is important to respond to everyone, but I know some people just don’t have the time. In the past, popular stars would hire people to do it for them and sometimes those staffers pretended to be the stars themselves. But that’s harder to pull off in these Internet days.

I guess maybe you respond to everyone when you only have a few fans. And then maybe after that you have someone else write something like, “Thanks for the message. I work for X and I’ve made sure she’s seen what you sent to her.”

Of course, in the spirit of “reason to buy,” you could always sell your responses. Fans who pay X dollars get responses from you and those who don’t never hear from you. 🙂

Betty Chambers (user link) says:


In this era of TMI, I am not one of those people who is a fan of any entertainer. If I like their music or work, I will purchase the product.

I have no interest in following their daily activities or whatever it is they do. Frankly, I find myself having contempt for them if they tell too much. Leave some mystery in tact.

I suspect half of the fans out there are really people who need therapy. TMI is a form of allowed stalking and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Anyways, my .02.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: TMI

There’s been an interesting discussion around Amanda Palmer’s latest project, Evelyn Evelyn.

Some of the concept has ticked off some of her fans, so there has been an endless discussion about it on her website and other places.

This comment was posted by Kambriel, who designed the costumes for Evelyn Evelyn, and points up the dance between fans and an artist. The more they think they “know” you, the more disappointed they can feel when you do something they feel was ill-advised.

kambriel: This is… Spinal Tap. (I mean Evelyn Evelyn.): “It’s a testament to the changing times we live in ~ this hyper-connectivity that people are feeling and experiencing, with unprecedented ‘access’ to others (which can be good and/or bad depending on how it’s utilized). When a sense of entitlement becomes overly fervent/aggressive though, it begins to start feeling too much like ‘perceived ownership’ over someone else’s vision.”

Gee says:

not sure about the connect with fans bit

I think lots of very gifted musicians will never make a dime with the cwf model. This model says if you want to make money in music you have to be a great marketer, a total extrovert, and devote equal parts of your life to making music AND putting yourself out there at all other times for your fans. What about a brilliant recluse artist who’d like to make a little money plying their craft? The cwf model doesnt seem to work for this person. Wouldn’t Elliot Smith, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, and Brian Eno have all kept their day jobs with the cwf model?

rjk (profile) says:

Re: not sure about the connect with fans bit

A lot of very gifted musicians never made a dime in the previous business model either.

But nothing I’ve seen in the cwf + rtb model suggests musicians need to be ‘great’ marketers, ‘total’ extroverts and spend ‘equal’ parts making music and interacting with fans.

The reality is that the record industry has been turned upside down and we are in a period of a bit of chaos as we try to sort out what works and doesn’t work. And if it turns out that some models don’t work well for some musicians, well, we’ll just have to figure out what does work for those musicians. But there’s no reason to dismiss a model because it might not work for everyone.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: not sure about the connect with fans bit

But there’s no reason to dismiss a model because it might not work for everyone.

I don’t think he was dismissing it, just suggesting that all this interactivity requires a certain set of skills and not all musicians have them.

The usual response is to suggest that that musicians find others to help them market and handle fan management. But unless you have some devoted fans who will do it for free and are good at it, you either need to hire someone (who can be expensive) or you need to agree to hand over a percentage of your income to him or her (much the way you would to a manager).

The fall of the label system has changed the dynamics, but there are new challenges with what is replacing it. The direct-to-fan model is time-consuming, and also is running up against an economic recession that leaves fans with less money to spend. If all they want is the music, fans can find it for free. Money that used to go into buy CDs can now go into devices and connectivity.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: not sure about the connect with fans bit

I think lots of very gifted musicians will never make a dime with the cwf model. This model says if you want to make money in music you have to be a great marketer, a total extrovert, and devote equal parts of your life to making music AND putting yourself out there at all other times for your fans.

That’s where I was going with this blog post.

Five Degrees of Separation in Music Income

A lot of what passes for the music business these days is more about becoming a celebrity (even if just on a small scale) and then selling access or products as a result of being a celebrity. Or about creating a community and then being the community manager for all of your members (aka fans). Those are both fine concepts, but similar activities are being done by non-musicians as well.

When all you want to do is write, record, and play music, you may want to focus on income-generating activities that make you the most money and give you the most time to stay involved in music. Often, a non-music day job is the way to go for that because it may actually pay you more per hour than marketing your stuff as a musician.

Mojo Bone (profile) says:

That’s a line every celebrity/artist walks; how to maintain mindshare and a little mystery at the same time. There are a number of artists who do this very well. I don’t think a couple tweets a day, a blog a week and a release a month should be all that difficult to follow. Fans that are interested in what I had for lunch will be disappointed, though.

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