Indie Musicians: Hot Tips to Nurture Your Fans

It is not enough to simply have someone come to one show. You want them to sign on for the long haul. You plan to be around for a while. You want the fans to grow with you. In order for that to happen, you need to care about them by providing them with something more than just the show. Here are a few tips to get your fans involved, excited, and committed to the act so that they show up at your gigs often and they bring others to shows with them.

1. Mailing List Benefits: Having a mailing list with both snail mail address and e-mail address is a must if you want to target your marketing directly to those who have indicated their interest in your music. Don’t just use the list as a name-gathering device though, use it to help your fans feel like they are special and that they are participating in something special.

• Create individual sign-up cards to be placed on seats, at tables or handed out at the door. Ask that they be returned before intermission. Do a drawing from the cards for someone to win a CD, T-shirt, or other logo-clad item of the groups. You will get more sign-ups and the anticipation of winning something is infectious. Do this at each gig and it becomes something to which your fans will look forward.

• Be informative in your mailings. Share newsy items about the industry or some thing that you are involved with or concerned about as well as group information and upcoming performance dates and new merchandise items. Be creative with your information. Perhaps send a link to your site for an MP3 of a new song to build excitement about the material going on the next CD, available to mailing list members only.

• Offer special mailing list only sales or discounts. Again, the fans feel special when they are on the mailing list and receive these special considerations. It drives more people to sign up when you mention this from the stage.

2. Be accessible to the audience during the intermission and after the show.

• Invite people to the merchandise table from the stage. Let them know you’ll be at the merchandise table and would love to meet them. Don’t be shy about promoting the merchandise table. Even though the merchandise table is placed in a conspicuous spot, a direct invitation builds crowds clambering for your stuff during intermission.

• Stand near the merchandise table, sign autographs, and meet the fans. When you make it known that you will be available to “meet and greet,” the fans feel closer to you. Don’t run off to the dressing room and then out the back door.

• Meet the winner after the show. Make a special announcement that you would like to personally greet the winner of the drawing and sign the prize. This will get more people signing those mailing list cards.

3. Establish opportunities for fans to get free tickets to your shows.

• Bring a guest. If a fan brings four or six other guests to a single show, he/she can get a pair of free tickets to either that show or the next. This works especially well when you produce your own shows and have control over the ticket sales.

• Give free ticket opportunities. Free ticket opportunities work nicely when promoted through the mailing list and are offered as a special for mailing list members only.

These suggestions will get your juices flowing and hopefully spark additional creative ideas. The main point is to let your fans know how much you appreciate their support. As you develop a long-lasting career, fan loyalty grows when they feel they have a part in your history. Challenge yourself to keep the fans in mind when you come up with new promotions and new tours. Consider your fans at each turn and they will remain loyal, enthusiastic and eager to help you expand your audience.

Excerpted from the book How To Be Your Own Booking Agent: The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring 2nd Edition by Jeri Goldstein.

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