Today, indie musicians are their own marketers, and finding time to improve and execute both your marketing campaign and your music is something we all struggle with. But did you know that you actually have a huge marketing team out there just waiting to help share your music? You guessed it – your fans! The coolest thing about fan-driven marketing is there's no big budget required. You can do everything with the free tools you already have, like your email list and social media.
Obviously, you can't just send your fans a list of marketing objectives, but you can create an environment that promotes sharing – and I'm going to break it down step by step for you in this article. If you want to learn more, though, Jake Challenor, CEO of digital marketing agency Jaden Social, will be joining me for a free webinar Thursday, February 12 at 4:00 p.m. EST. He'll be sharing some fan-driven marketing strategies that he's used with his own clients. You can join the webinar live or signup to watch the replay – all free.
1. Involve your fans from the get-go
People aren't going to share anything that's not interesting and engaging, and the number one way to make your content more interesting is to get your fans involved. A person is much more likely to share a cover video if they requested it, and they're more likely to recommend an album if they helped fund it via Patreon or PledgeMusic. With that in mind, do anything and everything you can to get your fans involved every step of the way.
You can start pretty simply here. Try asking your fans on Twitter what song they'd like to see you cover next. Make a list of your favorites (as well as the fans who recommended them) and start working your way through. Make sure you thank the fan who suggested the song by name so they feel they had a part. You can also get your fans involved in the creation of your setlist, choosing T-shirt designs, or even naming songs.
2. Create positive, memorable experiences
Online content is great, but people tend to share and talk about real experiences more than online interactions, so the next step in fan-driven marketing is creating positive, memorable experiences. We're not talking about just a regular old gig that your fans expect. You need to create something unique and engaging. House concerts, live webinars and Google+ Hangouts, or privately streamed concerts are all great ideas.
You can make some little tweaks to turn your regular, everyday content into a memorable experience. Include fan-submitted art in your next music video or set up a DIY photo booth and take selfies with your fans at your live shows. You can really get creative here – the sky's the limit!
3. Make it insanely easy to share
After you've created some awesome content and experiences with your fans, you need to make it easy to share. Yes, some die-hard fans will make the effort, but for everyone else, you need to be as accommodating as possible. Include social share links wherever you can – your blog posts, your emails, your YouTube videos, on your free downloads and promotions, and any other content you're sending out to fans. You could even create auto-responders that send out whenever a fan signs up for a live-streamed concert or Google+ Hangout, or purchases a CD or some merch with a link to share with their friends.
Once you have those social share calls to action in place, you need to actively direct people to share. You can do this at live events and online. Tell your fans that you'll follow anyone who retweets their photo booth selfie when you post it to Twitter. After your music videos, get onscreen and ask fans to subscribe, like the video, and share on Twitter. Contests are a great way to drive shares as well. Give away a CD, a ticket to your live show, or a private Skype call to one lucky winner who shares your video or retweets your next tweet.
As you can see, there are some incredible (and easy) strategies you can use to get your fans out there marketing for you, but we really just scratched the surface in this article. We will lay even more great strategies in a free webinar with Jake Challenor from digital marketing agency Jaden Social. He'll be sharing some of the strategies he uses with his clients – strategies he's seen work time and time again. I hope you'll join us in the free webinar, but if you can’t make it, sign up to watch the replay.
If you're interested in learning more about how you can create a plan for success for your band or career, check out the New Artist Model, the alternative online business school for independent musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and new businesses.
Dave Kusek is the founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.