By Carl Jacobson
Nimbit Plus, ASCAP Edition
Nimbit provides the easiest solution to sell and promote your music, merchandise, and tickets on Facebook, Twitter, and more, while simultaneously helping you build a supportive fanbase.
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There's been some debate recently about how artists will continue to get paid for their craft. Direct-to-fan marketing and sales has shown promise, but unless you actively take it on, you could miss its potential to grow your fanbase and maximize the money you earn. We've asked the direct-to-fan experts at Nimbit to help demystify the process with some practical advice.
The first step in going direct-to-fan is to build your fan list. Good old pen and paper at the merch table still works, but there's savvier ways to get your fans.
Try the following: distribute free download cards at gigs to capture interested new fans and also identify who is coming to your shows. A free track-for-email widget on your website also works well. Another creative tactic comes from Nimbit co-founder, Phil Antoniades. His band was appearing on local radio and they made the station's call letters a promo code that listeners could enter at the band's website to get a free track. "Radio stations like nothing more than saying their own name, so they promoted the heck out of our free track after our performance and every time they played our single.”
Engage Fans: Say thanks…and fast
The most important thing you can do when you get a new fan is say "thank you.” What's second? Do it quickly. When a fan joins your email list, follows on twitter, or likes on Facebook, you've caught their attention, but attention is fleeting so act fast.
Lyon Lyadzi of MeTalkPretty addressed this recently on a Nimbit-moderated panel "Saying thanks the morning after fans sign up means everything.” He went on "my band also personally acknowledges every new Twitter and Facebook message or follower.” They now have a 50,000+ fan list, so this appears to be working.
Membership Has its Privileges
Keeping up regular email, Facebook, and Twitter communications is crucial, but you can up your game by using these to reward your fans. Record a thank you message or holiday greeting. Give away a free advance track from your release. Thank everyone who came to a gig with a live recording of the best performance from the night. Surprise a fan a month after they made a purchase with a free download or something special.
Your list is your fan club; make them feel loved and special. And always give your fans the privilege to be first to purchase anything new.
Give Fans Ways to Support You: Ask for Help
If a friend is excited about an artist, you're probably going to check them out. Not every fan is a natural promoter, but if you ask them, they just might. Ask fans to spread the word about your new track, upcoming gig, or new video. Word of Mouth (and Facebook Wall) promotion is the most valuable you can get.
Offer Something Special
Today's most successful artists are taking it beyond just music. Fans are looking for something special. When you apply a little creativity, it's easy to offer it to them.
Suzanne Vega did this through autographed CDs and bonus tracks for customers who pre-ordered her Close Up, Vol. 2. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones offered packages that combined a CD, t-shirt, and VIP tickets to shows. And there's a million possibilities for creative merchandise. 100 Monkeys offered fans ornaments this past holiday season, and we shipped them like crazy from the Nimbit warehouses.
Go Beyond Music & Merch
What's more special to fans than access to their favorite acts? How much would a fan pay for an in-home performance? To be thanked on your next album? For meet and greet access at a show? To co-write a song or have their name dropped in the middle of a rhyme? You might be surprised…we were.
Ellis Paul sought fan funding to record his album and set increasing perks at higher levels of funding. We thought he was ambitious to set a $10K level, but he blew away expectations when not one, but four fans signed on at that level. In total he earned $130,000! That just goes to show…it doesn't hurt to ask. What could you offer fans? And what would it be worth to them?
Where to Sell It?
Many artists think that being on iTunes is all they need, but the reality is that iTunes isn't enough. iTunes is important because fans look for music there, but Apple takes a hefty commission and keeps the customer info, so you have no idea who's buying, no way to thank them, and no way to develop the relationship. Plus with so many choices, by sending a fan to iTunes, you risk them buying something else.
You should always first sell direct to your fan base and any new fans that find you. With a direct-to-fan platform such as Nimbit, you don't need to send them anywhere else. You keep a higher percentage AND you get to know who your fan is. Sell to your fans first, then step up distribution and discovery through iTunes, Amazon, and others.
We hope this article gave you some ideas of how to be successful in your own direct-to-fan activities. Everything presented here is easy when using an integrated direct-to-fan platform. ASCAP members save 10% on subscriptions to Nimbit, one the industry's best direct-to-fan providers. Visit http://www.ascap.com/benefits/webtools.aspx#nimbit to sign up today.