By Jon Ostrow
Your fans are all different.
The fact is that you will run into a wide range of fans; some of whom are passively connected to you online but may not have actually heard you, meanwhile others will be dedicated super fans who actively evangelize your music to others. Of course, most of your fans will fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
However, no matter how small the percentage of your fan base that could be considered super fans, these are your true money makers and thus should be the focal point of a majority of your time and attention.
Super fans are the ones who will not just evangelize your music, but will spend the most money- on downloads, physical albums, tickets and mercy.
So what makes super fans so special?
An emotional connection has been established.
These fans more than just like your music. They have a connection to you, your music, and/ or even the fan base that is so strong that it is a part of them.
The more emotionally connected fans you have, the more money you will make both in the short-term and the long-term. The following are 5 ways that you can use to not only cater to existing super fans, but can actually help you to create MORE emotionally connected fans.
Before the internet, newsletters were used as a way to connect a world-wide community of fans. However, even now with the existence of social networks, newsletters are a personal and direct interaction that can connect not just you to your fans, but your fans to each other.
Two excellent examples of community newsletters are the Grateful Dead’s ‘Almanac’ and Phish’s ‘Doniac Schvice’. What made these newsletters work so well is that they covered more than the music; they covered the scene as a whole.
The ‘Almanac’, typically spanning 5 or 6 pages in length, spent much of the first few pages showcasing original (and exclusive!!) artwork, discussing side projects and music as a whole that the community would be interested in, as well as updating the community about the charitable foundations started by band members (more on sharing passions below). The second half would be band news, announcements of upcoming tours or album releases and finally, mail order music/ merch and tickets.
However the Doniac Schvice had much more direct band involvement, including Mike’s Corner and Fish’s Forum, two reoccurring and often hysterical op-ed pieces written by bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman. There were also ‘Mike Replies’ where Mike Gordon would publicly reply to fan letters.
By focusing on the community, the fans who received the newsletter were becoming emotionally connected to the scene; not just the music, but the band members and even the fans. If you were in the community, you were apart of something bigger than yourself and that meant something.
Video Tour Diary
A concert is more than just music. It is an event. An experience.
A well-delivered concert experience is THE best way to connect with your fans on an emotional level. Because of this, video tour diaries are an extremely effective way to increase that emotional connected established through the concert experience, by giving the attendee’s a deeper look into the behind the scenes happenings before, during and after the concert. Ultimately this gives attendees the chance to grab on to, and re-live the event any time they want to.
The idea of a video tour diary has become quite popular in the emerging hip-hop world, as many of these upcoming artists give their music away for free through mixtapes and focus on making money from the live show; a business model similar to that made famous by the Grateful Dead and Phish.
These videos not only act as a way to offer additional value to those who attended the event, increasing the emotional connection within, but can function as an emotional marketing tool as well. Giving your fan base the opportunity to take a sneak peek of your recent live shows is a fantastic way to drive further ticket sales…
Always remember that a concert is more than just the music. It is an event. If you can convey that your shows are a must-see experience, then you’ve already begun to establish an emotional connection with fans before they’ve even bought the ticket.
Yes you are a musician, and yes your fans are so because of your music. But there is no reason the connection between you and your fans needs to end with the music. By sharing more of your passions with your fan base, you are creating an opportunity to greatly strengthen the emotional connection you have with fans who are not only passionate about your music, but these outside passions as well. This is how a community of super fans is born.
This is niche marketing at its finest. Since a niche is a very specific, distinct segment of a market, those who support and act from within are much more likely to be passionate about it than someone who supports a broad topic or market. As a rule of thumb, as a market becomes more niche focused, the support from within becomes more passion based.
A great example of sharing passions outside of music, and leveraging it to strengthen the emotional connection TO the music is Farm Aid. Started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Melloncamp in 1975, this now annual concert was created as a way to spread the awareness of the loss of family farms and to raise funds that help keep farm families on their land.
Over 30 years later, Farm Aid is still taking place every year with Willie Nelson in particular acting as the soundtrack to the movement.
This is THE first step to creating a tribe, which is the most ultimate form of emotionally connected fan base you could have. This gives your fans away of identifying themselves as apart of a group, and ultimately this creates insiders and outsiders which helps to strengthen the loyalty of those within.
Again Phish and the Grateful Dead did this, with their ‘tribes’ being dubbed Phish Heads and Dead Heads respectively. Being a Phish or Dead Head meant something more than just being a casual fan – it meant that you were a respected piece of a larger community and brought along with it a sense of belonging.
Today, this has been translated to other genres though still holds the exact same precedence where the fans within the tribe are a welcomed member of a community. Like her or not, Lady Gaga has done an incredible job labeling her fans as her ‘Little Monsters’.
Even emerging hip-hop artists are starting to understand the power of naming the fan base, such as CT-based Chris Webby, whose ‘Ninjas’ (Webby is an avid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan) have lead to the over 13 Million youtube views. His latest mixtape garnered over 23,000 downloads in under 24 hours.
By giving fans a name and giving them a sense of belonging, loyalty to the community goes through the roof, leading to stronger long-term sales than you could ever have other wise. The fans within these tribes are the ones who look for every opportunity to buy a new release, ticket or t-shirt, are the first to share a new music video (or tour video above, wink-wink), and are THE best asset you can have as you continue to build upon your fan base.
How Have YOU Created An Emotional Connection To Your Fans?
All emerging musicians can benefit from having established emotional connections between themselves and their fans. Please leave any suggestions, ideas or feedback about how YOU have managed to make this work below in the form of a comment!