How Emotional Connections Are the Backbone of Every Fan Tribe

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Social media creates the appearance that each of your fans holds the same weight, be it one ‘like’, one ‘follow’, or one ‘friend’. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

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 4 ways that you can use to not only cater to existing super fans, but can actually help you to create MORE emotionally connected fans.

Newsletter

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.

Phish’s Doniac Schvice was very similar to the Grateful Dead’s Almanac, offering up news and updates of both band and community related events.

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.

Share Passions Outside Of Music

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.

Name Your Fans

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!

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Headcount Staffer Injured in SXSW Tragedy – Your Help Needed to NOW!

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HeadCount’s Director of Artist Relations, Jane Henderson, was injured in the incident at SXSW that you may have already heard about on the news. Jane was at SXSW mediating a panel for HeadCount about musicians and the Affordable Care Act. Jane worked tirelessly at the event to engage as many people as possible.

Unfortunately, the festival took a tragic turn Wednesday night. Jane was in the back of a taxi cab that was hit by the hit-and-run driver. She has several broken vertebrae. The good news is that there is no injury to her spinal cord and nothing is life threatening. Her healing process will be long.

Jane is a beloved member of the HeadCount Family and obviously this is very shocking. Her friends at HeadCount have started a fundraising page to help with extraneous expenses such as medical expenses not covered by her health insurance, travel costs for her family to stay in Austin until Jane is well enough to travel back to New York as well as the day to day expenses like NYC rent and transportation to and from physical therapy, and whatever else that may arise as a result of this accident.

We’ve Got Jane’s Back – Please Help Jane NOW!

Along with showing your support by contributing to the fundraising page, please share this news using the following:

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SXSW 2014 – Website Demolition Derby Recap

Yesterday was the day that the self-proclaimed ‘best panel EVER’ wrapped up at SXSW: Website Demolition Derby featuring David Dufresne, Emily White, Brian Felsen, Michael Schneider, and yours truly.

The panel was a fun hour of informal dialogue between the panelists and audience members who volunteered to have their websites critiqued. The variety in the submissions provided a perfect mix that allowed us panelists to provide advice to those of all shapes and sizes to improve their website for each unique case. Whether the subject was an artist, session player, blogger, or entertainment company, the crowd certainly got a solid hour of practical and candid advice.

If you were unable to attend SXSW, or got lost on the 1,001 other events going on throughout the day, here is a brief overview of just a few of the topics covered:

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

It’s important to know that not all websites fit under one umbrella. While many of our clients for our respective companies look to us to attain fans for their music or their blog, attaining fans may not be the #1 priority if you are a session player looking for work. The important thing to note about websites is that you must know what resources are most relevant to your particular case. A session player’s LinkedIn profile may be a high priority, whereas a band probably won’t have one at all. One piece of advice is to reference somebody who you compare yourself to, and note what they emphasize on their site.

Speaking of Social Media Links…

LESS SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IS MORE

Social Media Links

Are you actively posting on all of these social media sites? When was the last time you posted on Google+? Has anyone interacted with your MySpace page lately? The only sites that should be included in this list are the ones that you actively maintain. Otherwise, you are driving fans to sites that are either barren, or dead. Not a good look for you!

DRIVE YOUR SALES TO ONE SITE

All artists are selling their music digitally through distributors like CD Baby, TuneCore, The Orchard, etc. We don’t need to see all of the stores which we can buy your music from. We already assume that it’s there. The best way to sell your music is to embed a BandCamp page on your website, or another direct-to-fan platform where you can a) retain traffic on your website, b) get an email address for your mailing list, and c) retain 100% of your sale, while skipping the 30% distribution fee.

MAKE YOUR MUSIC AVAILABLE ON YOUR HOME PAGE

Your website should be resourceful for all who visit your site. For the new visitor, a music player in the top left is a great place to allow them to hear your music for the first time. Why the top-left? View this website heat-map (via http://www.seoconsultingkenya.com/):

Heat Map

The red area is where the visitor’s eyes gravitate when they visit a website, which makes perfect sense if you think about reading a page from top-down, left to right. The lesson here is that you’re primary call-to-action should be in the top-left region of your site.

MAKE YOUR WEBSITE RESPONSIVE

Have you ever looked at your website on someone else’s browser? Are placeholders misaligned or out of place? Are images viewed completely out of context? Depending on the aspect ratio of the visitor’s computer screen, and the size of their browser window, your website may look very different than what you see. Make sure you test your website in multiple scenarios, and across several browsers to make sure that your HTML is accepted across all platforms.

MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE IS MOBILE OPTIMIZED

The user interface on your smartphone or tablet should make the visitor’s experience seamless and easy to navigate. Limiting the user’s need to pinch to zoom in to read your text or to navigate the page is a crucial element to your mobile site. Also, DO NOT USE FLASH! Flash does not work on iOS devices, so if the user is on an iPhone or iPad, they won’t see your media. HTML5 should be used wide-spread across your website.


We crammed in a lot of information on this panel, and we came across some very interesting cases and were asked some great questions from our audience. We had a blast doing this panel, and we want to thank everyone who came out and participated, and volunteered to put their websites on display for us to work with. I’d also like to thank SXSW and David Dufresne for being kick-ass hosts and for allowing me the opportunity to speak on this amazing panel and join an amazing group of people on this stage.

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Cyber PR’s 2014 SXSW Survival Guide

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Having attended every SXSW for the last 17 years, I’ve seen it all. The following are some tips on how to successfully navigate your through the most overwhelming music conference of them all.

Envision What You Want Before You Arrive

My first bit of advice: Arrive prepared. Know who will be attending and create some goals before you get there.

Attend at Least One Music Conference Each Year

I believe all serious musicians should make it part of their job to attend at least one conference a year.  They can be expensive to get to, but think abut it this way: music lessons and equipment were at one time expensive, and those things are also vital for your career. Conferences are the best place to meet people who work in and around the music industry, and conferences are a relaxed environment to connect with people in the industry who can change the course of your career.

Austin, Texas is a wonderful city, and its distractions are many. Keep in mind that this is not a vacation. It’s a work-related learning experience. With a little planning and foresight, you can have a million-dollar conference.

Before You Go, Get Connected!

SXSW Social Media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SXSWFestival
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SXSW
YouTube: www.youtube.com/SXSW
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/SXSW
Instagram: www.instagram.com/SXSW

Bring Business Cards & Postcards

Yes, you should have a business card, and your card should not just have your name and number.  It should have good information about what you or your band sounds like (your pitch) , your Twitter handle, Facebook URLS, and links to any other places people might be able to find you online. A photo of you or a band logo would also be highly recommended.

MooCards makes excellent business cards that are highly customizable, very inexpensive and look great! My whole team used the Facebook Cards MooCards which pulls your information from Facebook and uses the image you have in your Timeline banner as the background for the card.

Don’t Haul A Ton Of CDs

I do not recommend bringing a lot of CDs. People are overwhelmed with free CDs, and they won’t want to carry them home. It’s better to get people’s business cards and mail them a CD, or (better yet!) send your music digitally through Bandcamp or Soundcloud as a follow-up after you get home.

Talk To Strangers

Don’t be scared to take risks and meet people. Conferences are friendly places.  Just walk right up and ask “So, what brings you here?” You’ll have a new BFF in no time.

Attend Panels – You Will Learn Something

It’s tempting to blow the panels off and hit all of the free day parties, but I encourage you to make an effort to sit in on at least one or two panels per day. Choose any topic that interests you, and take notes.

Get Mentored!

Most conferences have amazing mentoring sessions where you can sign up to have one-on-one face time with the industry peeps. Some of the most important people in the music business will be sitting there ready to meet with you.

When you do go to a one-on-one mentoring panel, be prepared to meet these people. Make sure that you have done your research, and have specific questions to ask them.

Follow Up!

The moment you get home, make sure to send thank you notes or e-mails. Follow up with every single person that you met. If appropriate, add them to your e-mail list. Never send your pitch or talk about business in the initial e-mail. Get people to respond to your follow up by just being friendly. If you do not follow up, your trip and hard work will have been a waste of your time. So, don’t rip yourself off here!

Meet the Cyber PR® Team at SXSW 2014!

I unfortunately won’t be down in Austin for this year’s festivities, but Andrew Salmon, my Campaign Manager will be there and would love to meet up with you!

Andrew will be speaking on a panel with David Dufresne (Bandzoogle), Emily White (Whitesmith Ent.), Brian Felsen (formerly of CD Baby/ HostBaby) and Michael Schneider (Urturn):

Panel: Website Demolition Derby
Wednesday, March 12
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Room: Austin Convention Center Ballroom E

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Connect with Andrew on Twitter!

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How to Expand Your Awareness from a Local to National Music Market

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As a band or artist it’s hugely important to build up a local fan base, get a following, and get the name out. But once this is achieved, some artists may find it hard to branch out of their local area to become noticed nationally. It’s likely to be true that there are bands/artists out there with bags of potential and talent that are stuck in their local areas with no knowledge of how to get out. Here are a few DIY tips on how to get out there:

Research

Do your research: look up different cities, the popular small venues and the promoters within. Once you have this information, there is knowledge of who to contact to get a gig. It is likely that if you are from another city that you won’t be offered the best slot of the night… Be patient with this, the promoter may not have heard of you, and may be sceptical about ticket sales so they’re giving you a fair chance, and hey… if you’re good, you’ll probably be invited back with a better slot. Promoters aren’t only useful for gaining a slot at one of their venues, but they also have a good contact list of the city of which they work. If you’re impressive, there’s no doubt that the promoter will spread the word and help you branch out around the area.

Make the most of the trip

When travelling to another city to play a show, make the most of the trip and get yourself heard more than once! Perhaps arrange another show (depending on promoter terms) but there are other avenues to go down other than booking a show at another venue… Play an acoustic set in a record store, busk in the city centre with some CD’s ready to hand out, be imaginative! It may also be useful to think about taking along some merchandise, such as CD’s, badges/stickers and t-shirts etc. This will look professional and make people in the city remember you whilst also making some money!

There are other ways to get your voice heard in the city you’re heading to, again linking back to Research, find all the local radio stations and contact about a possible interview or play of your song whilst you’re in the city. This is great promotion for your act, people become aware of whom you are and may even come down to your show, pleasing the promoter too! The harder you work and the more promotion made, the more the city will want you back after your show. Engage with the audience and make them excited about your music!

Strong social media presence

Get your act a strong online presence by existing on as many social media platforms as you can (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace Vine etc.) and show that you are excited to be playing the city you’re heading to. This will create a good image for your act as well as pleasing the promoter by pushing the show. If the promoter notices the effort put in to promoting the show, even if there is a low turn out they will consider you again. Be easy to work with – be polite, work hard and put in the effort! They will no doubt invite you back if so.

A strong social media presence will also give your new fans from the city a place to find you and keep updated. It keeps them interested, engaged and when you return they will probably be there. The bigger your online fan base, the bigger your act in popularity, so this will be hugely effective in continuing to branch out nationally. In this digital age its important to exist on as many online platforms as possible, if people are looking for your music or happen to come across you, they may tell their friends and help promote you further!

Be good! Be confident!

This may seem a little blunt and easier than it sounds, but the simple fact of the matter is you must be good. Be confident in your own material, if you feel it needs more time to nurture, stay in the practise room for a bit longer and then hit the other cities. Use your local town as a place to showcase yourself but at the same time a free practise to get honest criticism from people to help you improve. After all, if you’re not confident in your own material then who else will be? Wait until the right time; don’t show off your mistakes as sometimes you may have only one chance. When the time is right, contact the promoters and confirm your availability for as soon as possible. Get out there, show yourself off, and most importantly: have fun!

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This article has been written by Jamie Ford from Music Gateway – Connecting music professionals globally through targeted project opportunities.



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Musicians: Free Health Care Consultations Available Now!

HeadCountAre you and your team set up with ObamaCare yet?

Sure, it’s something we’ve been talking about ever since the launch of the initially problematic healthcare.gov website. However, if you are a musician or represent musicians, DO NOT stop reading. It could end up costing you.

For musicians, it’s a matter of getting in touch with the right people, asking the right questions, and getting the right advice to avoid the unnecessary expense. Enter: HeadCount.org

The organization has been running steady for 10 years, and started out as a platform to help register voters for the 2004 presidential election. Since then, they have successfully organized many socially conscious initiatives such as #SoundOff, a Twitter platform that allows anyone to tweet directly at Congress and create an open dialogue with lawmakers, nationally-broadcasted PSAs, and much more. Simply put, their mission is to promote participation and democracy through music.

“It’s all about keeping people informed, and harnessing the power of musicians,” co-chair Andy Bernstein states, who realizes the reach and the influence that musicians possess. It is this power that has helped the organization register over 300,000, and achieve much more.

With every cog of the industry represented in its board of directors, from artists, to managers, to promoters, to booking agents, to venues, to radio stations, multinational corporations and beyond, the resources at hand have helped propel the initiatives of this organization for well over a decade, and Health Care is next on the docket.


HOTLINE INFORMATION

PHONE: (919) 264-0418
EMAIL: HealthCare@HeadCount.org
HOURS OF OPERATION: 24 hours!


HeadCount.org has set up a hotline where anyone can call to get more information about the necessary steps needed to ensure coverage without penalty. Did you know that if you don’t have coverage before March 31st, you could get fined? It could be substantial depending on your particular situation, so it’s best to try to avoid any surprises.

Why is it best to contact HeadCount as opposed to just doing it yourself? You may not know what regulations are in place that might affect your situation as an artist, manager, promoter, etc. Simply getting on the phone with HeadCount will give you the necessary information and direct you to other organizations called “Navigators” who are trained by the government to assist you in making sure that your health care requirements are met. This is a resource that the government has implemented for your sake, and it’s HeadCount’s mission to inform and put people in touch with these resources.

Of course, for anyone who still suffers from healthcare.gov-phobia, sorting out your health care needs over the phone will help you avoid this step.


If you’re heading to SXSW: you can visit the workshop below to get one-on-one guidance regarding how to insure your band, whether or not you’ll have interstate coverage, and how to navigate this new Health Insurance Marketplace.

Artists + the Affordable Care Act: Get Answers, Get Covered
Thursday 3/13, 3:30p-6p
Austin Convention Center Room 8BC
Open to badge holders and artist wristband holders

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