You’ve isolated… disinfected… sanitized… masked… watched seemingly every show created, and discovered new artists and music referred to you by those close, yet still distant from you. Perhaps you even delved into that old vinyl collection gathering dust in your father’s basement to reminisce the days of yore. Maybe you have written a double album’s worth of new songs to process tough feelings and keep yourself motivated during such strange times. Music is a release. An escape to another world. It encourages us to feel hopeful. Begs us to dance. Allows us to empty our sorrow or be filled with joy. Music connects us. Brings us together, even when we are not.
With so much music being created, produced and put out into the world, how can artists stand out while authentically connecting with fans and followers. Growing a strong invested community and fanbase can make the difference between being a ‘flash in the pan’ and having a lengthy meaningful career.
Not to mention, we all know it’s been hard on artists and well, if you can earn a little money on the side while giving your fans a little something extra – hey, that’s a win-win for everyone. Especially while the restrictions surrounding our ‘new normal’ still have most of us just wishing for $10 concert beer once more. Oh red plastic cup, how we miss thee.
Well fear not, that ‘human interaction’ and ‘in-person’ experience is actually closer and easier to obtain than ever before. What this pandemic has shown us is, the more we’ve distanced, the closer we become because true connection is so blatantly important without all the daily distractions we became so accustomed to.
So all that to say, here’s how artists can still create, promote, and encourage that indispensable human connection… even from a distance.
These social media giants have been an excellent platform to stay in touch and share yourself within your community and beyond. Followers will check their feeds multiple times a day, often commenting on posts they like. Taking a moment to actually respond directly to said comments grows hype and interest. Acknowledging supporters goes a lot farther than you’d imagine. I mean we’ve all seen stories or posts from friends where they’ve had a direct response in return to a question or comment from their favourite artist or band. You have to admit that you’re even a bit of a fan-boy/girl/they yourself when you have made that special connection. So why not make the most of live streaming and stories by setting up a live event where your fanbase can ask questions or even randomly join in the video for a quick chit chat – how special would that make you feel to get to chat with your idol live? Or you can choose to announce the release date of your album before posting about it to make your superfans feel even more connected and special.
These days it’s all about generating excitement and anticipation – everybody is already used to this fast-paced world where one can seemingly get anything in an instant. One way to create excitement and participation is a good ole fashioned contest to give away your latest merch which is about to drop, or the chance to design your album cover! This way you are getting your fans involved, and hey maybe even discovering a new member of your creative crew! Accepting fan submissions and allowing those same people to vote on their favourite designs are a surefire way to generate more interest in an artist and frankly purchasing your wares, because your fans are invested, because they are part of the process.
Or how about, creating a live voting bracket that pits your songs against one another as another fun way to involve your supporters and receive feedback. Not to mention you are actually gathering important data. Did 80% of your fans prefer your first single to your latest? Not that it will inform the way you write, but knowledge is power, and while everyone around you may be “yes-people”, your fans will be honest! I mean don’t listen to the internet trolls – but you know what I mean. This could simply be a way to figure out what your next music video should be… Your followers vote, and the song with the most votes goes on to the next round leaving only one at the end. Your next music video. Voila! And you can be sure the fans that voted are eagerly awaiting it’s release, and will be watching that thing over and over and over.
Let’s talk concerts for a moment. Remember those!? That ebb and flow of energy from people being so close together and sharing a common love and interest. Well that can still happen… sort of. Outdoor events like drive in concerts have already shown that fans are willing to pay to escape the doldrums of home and fill a car with their cohort to have that live concert experience. When you think about the growing number of these drive in concerts popping up and their popularity and ability to reach multiple locations at one time, it really is a no brainer. The show MUST go on!
This leads us into the Live/Virtual world of…
So maybe a live drive-in concert just isn’t in the budget. Well YouTube offers a member accessed area in which to meet up online rather than a set physical location.
Virtual concerts and question and answer sessions can be set up to allow that interpersonal connection as well as live feedback. Creating a YouTube Premiere event for your new music video for example would give members that backstage access feeling and provide a real time shared experience.
The ever growing membership platform that allows fans and followers the ability to subscribe, support, and pay for content while being rewarded with perks that could include, but are not limited to merchandise giveaways or one-to-one meetings and sing alongs. We all love freebies, whether it be a t-shirt, poster, stickers, or an album. Becoming a Patron gives one that ‘clubhouse member’ feel and receiving something like a Patron only club card or sticker imparts just a healthy bit of that elitist feeling. The comments, ideas, suggestions, and questions from Patrons will help dictate and shape the content your fan base really wants to see.
‘Trends start here’ A quick post and a call to fans to express themselves and create a new dance, lip sync or possibly karaoke-sing along to a short clip of your latest single’s lyrics. I think we’ve all witnessed how chill vibes, a longboard, and a jug of ocean spray can lead a surge back into the top 40!
Know this. Whichever platform/s you embrace, continuing to create will bring us all a little closer together. Fans want to find a way to invest themselves and support their reason for singing, dancing, and just being able to feel. That support will be even stronger and more pronounced when that connection and respect is felt and returned. Being able to grow with your fan base and allowing them the opportunities to become more interactive might be one of the most important changes to happen after our imposed confinement.
Fans Can Play a Part in Your Music Promotion Campaign
Now all of these activities can also have a magical effect on how the music industry sees you. If you are able to create buzz and excitement all on your own in an organic way, people will take notice.
Nothing impresses professional industry decision makers more than an artist that already has a loyal following without the need for hype and huge marketing budgets. You are just making their job way easier.
So when you are ready to promote that isolation album you wrote and recorded in your home studio, make sure to include any new social stats or growth in your one-pager! (And don’t forget Play MPE can help you curate a music promotion distribution campaign to suit your music style and goals!) Did a superfan create a painting of you? Why not include a photo of that with your bio… Did your song voting contest to pick your next single get 10000s of votes? Mention that too! Just goes to show that you and your music have that extra something-something that fans are really feeling. And the beauty is – it’s real. No need to buy followers, or employ social media bots to leave generic comments on fans of “similar artists”. Fans are savvy these days and can see right through it if it isn’t coming from a genuine place.
If you get creative, and open your heart a little to the people helping to make your dreams come true, well we will all feel a little more connected, won’t we.
Now about that $10 concert beer… Who’s down for a Zoom cheers?!
By contributing writer Chad Kehoe
Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash