In addition to writing, recording and producing the best music you can create, understanding your fan base and the strategies involved in getting your music to them are equally important tasks. During a recent consultation the discussion of finding ones fans came up. I suggested that finding them was not the primary problem; instead, identifying them, discovering who they are, and defining what they look like on paper seems to be more important.
In marketing, this is called customer demographics. Once you know who they are, finding them becomes a bit easier. However, once you find them, reaching them becomes the next challenge. I recommend that you pick the lowest hanging fruit from the tree—those closest to you. Simply, if you want to expand your fan base, look at your current fans and find out who they are. More important, find out what it is about you that they like or dislike. Many recording artists have existing databases. These databases should contain current contact for those who make up your fan base (i.e. names, email addresses, show attendance and purchasing habits, etc.)
The easiest way your fans can help you define your fan base demographic is to have them complete a survey! If you presently communicate with your fans weekly via a newsletter or general email blast, then it is a good idea to ask them to take a quick survey. Also, I would suggest that you offer them a free download of your current song as a “thank you” for taking the survey! At a minimum, the survey should include the following questions:
What state/town/city do you live in?
Do you have a Myspace/Face Book page? If so, Include site.
What magazines/papers do you read?
Who are three of your favorite mainstream artists?
What music websites do you visit?
Which three personal websites do you frequent?
How did you hear about the band/artist?
Have you recently purchased any of our music?
How far would you travel to see us perform?
These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions that could be included in the survey. Keep in mind, however, that your goal is to get as much detailed information about them as possible–their likes, dislikes and habits. Once you have this information, you are armed with solid knowledge from which you can make better informed marketing and promotional decisions. The information will give you a broader view of your fan base. It will also tell you about the type of new fans you are looking for. And, if you ask the right questions, you will know where to find them. Surveys can be an invaluable tool that artists do not always take advantage of. They are easy to do and, if done properly, will provide you with rich knowledge.
If you’ve never done a survey and would like to get started, there are businesses that provide this service. Take a look at surveymonkey.com. They have a free service package that allows you to ask 10 questions with 100 responses per survey. And, while it is not a lot, it is a good start–just be sure that your questions are very specific! Surveymonkey.com also offers $19.95/month and $200.00/year packages. For those of you who need more or if you already use Constant Contact, they also have a survey service called “Listen Up”. It starts at $15 per month for 0-250 responses. They also offer a 60-day, free trial (it is limited to 100 responses, but you can ask as many questions as you like).
Businesses have been using surveys for many years as a common practice in helping them define their products, markets and consumer demographics. It is a valuable tool—one which can assist you in getting more fans, music downloads and people out to your shows! Use it!
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