Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros


June 22, 2009

Fringe Fans: They're Really Not That Into You

Imagine this ...

You get an email from someone you've never heard of or heard from before. He writes:

"I've sampled a bunch of your free downloads online, and honestly, I haven't heard one song I really like. So I'm not sure I want to spring for your new album. Tell you what ... give me the entire album for free, and if I find a few songs I enjoy, I'll pay you for it. Deal?"

How would you respond? (Once you stopped cursing, that is.)

I ask because I got an email just like this a few days ago. Only this guy wasn't asking about my music; he was referring to my articles, blog posts, and books.

He said he hadn't found anything of value in the stuff he's found of mine online. Then he asked if I would give him some full ebooks for free. If he found something that "worked" in the books, he would gladly pay me.

How do you think I responded?

Thanks, but no thanks!

Why? Don't I have confidence in my own material? Wouldn't he be rushing to compensate me if he were only exposed to the awesomeness of my best ideas?

YES, I have confidence in my material. But NO, I doubt very much he'd ever be willing to pay for anything I publish, regardless of the cost or the arrangements.

The point being ... this guy is a "fringe fan." He is not my ideal customer. And while I welcome suggestions and respect a diversity of ideas, I won't lose any sleep over what this guy thinks.

Do you feel the same way about your fringe fans?

The reason I ask: Artists like to please people. We love a kind word and a pat on the back. Therefore, I bet you often let music consumers of all stripes steer the way you run your career.

So you give everything away, or you beg people to attend your shows, or you water down your identity so you don't offend anyone.

And guess what? That's a sure recipe for failure!

Don't get me wrong. You must be aware of the response you're getting from people. Your radar must be up at all times monitoring which songs get the most positive response and what types of people are attracted to your music the most. That's good.

But at some point you must draw a line between how you serve your "ideal fans" and how you react to everyone else.

For me, I know my ideal fans are proactive indie artists who understand the value of lifelong education and feeding their minds with fresh ideas on how to promote and sustain a music career. Those types of musicians are a small subset of the planet's entire musician population.

So when it comes to the cynical "prove it to me" music crowd ... I wish them well, but I don't expend energy in trying to please them. They are not a part of my core "tribe," as Seth Godin says. They are on the outskirts of it.

I suggest you not be distracted by the people on the fringe of YOUR tribe. Don't insult them (unless that's a part of your brand identity), but don't cower to them either.

Focus on the people who matter the most: your ideal fans!

-Bob



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posted by Bob Baker @ 6:50 PM   12 comments


June 16, 2009

The Future of Digital Music for Indie Artists

Have you heard the news?

MySpace just laid off 30% of its workforce. Twitter and Facebook are on a steady rise -- for now. Streaming remote music sites like Spotify (currently available only in Europe) are gaining a lot of traction. And Richard Branson's Virgin Media just launched a new music download subscription service.

Whew!

It's enough to make your iPhone spin out of control and careen into your Amazon Kindle :-)
A LOT of change has taken place in the music industry over the past eight or nine years. Come to think of it, a lot has changed in the past six months alone.

People are confused. Musicians want answers. Self-promoters need to know the best way to invest their limited time and money. Industry veterans plead for the roller coaster ride to just stop already!

Here's the truth ...

There are no answers!

There are no rules, no strict guidelines, no risk-free road maps to widespread fame.

That sucks, doesn't it? Well, it can. But you have another choice:

Have some fun with it!

Experiment. Try stuff. For instance, be the first artist to [do something outrageous] using [the latest hot social site or app]. Fill in the brackets with different combinations till you find a winner.

Let your imagination wander and ask lots of "What if ..." questions. Then get busy creating your own little mad scientist music marketing laboratory.

While the technology and tools change constantly, some things remain important no matter what:
  • Understanding who you are as an artist
  • Knowing the type of person most likely to enjoy your music and identity
  • Communicating who you are and what you play clearly and quickly
  • Putting yourself in a position to be discovered by your ideal fans
  • Being accessible to fans and having a direct conversation with them
  • Building relationships with people over time
  • Making enticing offers to purchase your for-sale music products and services
But the way you pursue these timeless elements is up for grabs and constantly evolving. And that's where you can thrive today.

So let go of your need for certainty. Don't be so tight-assed about needing to know all the answers.

Again ... Experiment. Try stuff. And pay attention to the results you get from your efforts. Then simply do more of what works and less of what doesn't.

Here's the conclusion reached in a music industry report published last year called "Meet the Millennials":

In summary: technological advancement will promote further diversification in the music industry, in terms of business models, content and mechanisms for artist/fan interaction.

No single approach is 'the next big thing,' and experimentation is strongly encouraged. No one can afford to wait for proof of concept when the next big innovation is always just around the corner.

Millennials [young people who have grown up in the digital age] are constantly experimenting with and evaluating their experience as consumers. We suggest the music business does the same.

Sounds like great advice to me!

What do you think?

-Bob

Guerrilla Music Marketing HandbookIf you don't own it yet, check out Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook, the classic guide to indie music promotion. Revised and updated, with four new chapters on Internet and Web 2.0 music marketing.
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posted by Bob Baker @ 9:47 PM   8 comments