Marketing: Building Your FanbaseBy
I have always been a huge advocate of being
in control of one's destiny as an artist. It's almost ridiculous
to assume that an artist would want it any other way, or so one
would think. Whether we are signed to major labels, indies or
doing it grass roots style all on our own, we have to assume that
our careers will continue to flourish. So we have to market smarter.
And in a time of huge musical transition, if we don't we are all
Something that I personally have become quite an expert in is
marketing on the Internet, and for the last couple of years I
have been determined to find a way to sell my CDs on the Internet,
in the same way I do with my informational products and guitar
courses. One of the reasons informational products sell on the
Internet is because a marketer can capitalize on those who are
searching for that information. The trouble with music is it is
a 'want' not a 'need' and unless a fan came to your show and couldn't
get your CD, why would they be searching for you? This has been
the difficulty so far. Clearly one effective tactic (and Amazon.com
have used this) is to piggy back off more familiar names. So if
you have a website selling music, you could maybe suggest that
"if you liked Coldplay then perhaps you would like blah blah
bla" and so on. But this is hard to set up and a huge commitment.
So what else can we do? Something that is a little less overwhelming.
Well my feeling is that you have to grow your list of subscribers.
I got very excited recently when my new "Soul Express"
2006 album came out. I had a shipment of CDs sent to me from my
label so I decided to offer the new album at a discount. $11.99
to be precise. Now, there ain't much profit there for a signed
artist trust me, (I pay them $8 per unit - yikes!!) especially
with management commissions (15%) (and when I do shows, the promoter
can also take up to 25% - ouch!), but I did set up a cool little
program to boost sales a little...
My subscribers got an email with a link to buy the new album.
Now, the real incentive to buy was this: In the email I said "Get
the new album Soul Express from www.ChrisStandring.com and download
8 mp3 bonus tracks that didn't make the final album - and read
all about why!". This is an offer that is not available
in any of the stores so that is clearly an incentive to buy from
me. When they clicked on the order link it took them to an upsell
web page that asked the visitor if they would like to add two
more CDs to their order for a $22 discount. This little trick
converted approx. 20% of customers. You can see that page here.
Turned out I sold 200 CDs in around 4 days. Not bad.
So if there is something I have learned it is that once I have
a subscriber in my database, it is like gold dust, and provided
they really want to be on that list, the chances of converting
them into a sale when a new album comes out are pretty high. And
with this in mind I started thinking, "Gotta get more on
my list, gotta get more on my list...but how do I do that?"....
I put together a package tour at the beginning of this year. In
my format, these package tours are all the rage now, in fact many
agents only want to book them, insisting that solo artists are
too difficult to sell to promoters. A package tour is essentially
where 3 or 4 headlining artists come together for a show and one
band backs them all. This way the promoter gets more bang for
their buck. Instead of waiting to be invited on one of these tours
I decided to invent one. I asked Jody Watley, who I have worked
with on her last couple of albums, and I also asked legendary
soul-jazz keyboard player Jeff Lorber. The tour is called "Soul
Express featuring Jody Watley, Jeff Lorber & Chris Standring"
and the tour is represented by Variety Artists International.
We have some very high profile shows coming up and I have been
thinking to myself "How the heck can I capitalize on all
these fans at these festivals and concerts". If there are
6,000 people in the audience, how can I get them to subscribe
to my list? I don't want to lose them after all. So I came up
with a groovy plan.....
Many of you know that getting folks to sign up on your mailing
list at gigs can be a nightmare. Why? because not everyone will
come and sign up after your show for a variety of reasons and
it's not necessarily because they don't want to. They are busy,
the line is too long, they'll get to it later, they didn't know
what they were supposed to do, and so on. Those that do come and
sign up generally have such appalling handwriting that 50% come
back as mailer daemons when entered into a computer email database
There must be a better way. We need a pull marketing strategy,
not a push. And that was the keyword for me...
I now have 5000 printed postcards (I'll print more as I need to)
that I am going to distribute at each of these concerts. . Probably
grab a street team member or local radio station intern to help.
Slip them $20, that kind of thing. The postcard says:
So I figure - once they
have seen the show, and we have wowed them, why would they not
go and get 8 free tracks? Of course they may say, "Well
why do I want tracks that didn't make the album - I want the
ones that did!". But they are free bonus tracks, they can
get the album too, at the gig or otherwise - they just have
to buy it!. And I will see to it that they do. :)
So they can take that little postcard and do what they want
with it. My guess is that it will be a numbers game. Those that
want to get the free tracks simply have to enter their first
and last name and email address and they get an email with a
link to download. Voila!
Over time, this method may change somewhat. I will need to do
some testing but I expect it to do quite well. After all, these
folks came to the gig - right? If I have done my job properly
they should leave the gig as new fans. Hopefully they will want
to come again. And so the relationship begins.
This is good grass roots street team stuff that you can take
on board yourselves, or not. I'm excited about it because it's
non imposing. I don't have to pressure anyone to sign up. They
do it if they want to.
| Chris Standring
is the CEO and founder of A&R Online (www.aandronline.com).
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to
Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording
career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com
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