1. Empower Your Fans
They’re the key to your success, not the mainstream media. Fans are forever, newspapers are not, never mind the reporters who write for them. Your fans believe in you, have time for you, are dedicated to you, reciprocate.
Fans want information. Which they can spread. Encourage fan sites. Give exclusives. Give interviews. These are your partners.
2. Say Yes Not No
No only applies if you’re a superstar. And there are very few of those left. Let me be clear, say yes to your fans, to the Internet, don’t say yes to intermediaries, like corporations or hustlers who say they can do something for you, which they almost definitely will not, and if they do will extract compensation far in excess of what you desire to pay them.
There are no rules. Do it your way. Stumble upon new ideas, forge new pathways, there’s no right way, only your way.
3. Be Three-Dimensional
Mystery is history. The more you reveal, the more people can bond to you.
Social media is a running dialogue that pays dividends long after you wish. It’s a walk into the wilderness that could leave you very lonely. So don’t start unless you plan to finish. It’s a commitment almost as strong as your music. Only try to goose it with contests and stunting occasionally. But giving away something people want always works. Give away a free house concert, a free guitar lesson, and don’t do this to increase your reach, but to motivate your fan base.
The best tweets are not self-promotional. Sure, you can say you’re here or there occasionally, but if you’re using the channel as a sales/promotion outlet, people will tune out. Twitter is where you’re real. Post thoughts and ideas. Pictures of what’s interesting to you. Social media is about coming down from the mountaintop to engage, just like everybody else. But in your case, people are insatiable in their desire to know more about you.
Is free and should be promoted ad infinitum. Every one of your shows should be on YouTube and available on the Internet for streaming and downloading. Make every one different, change the set lists, improvise, and your fans will be hooked.
The web is all about getting people to come back. And they’ll only come back if you change your site and deliver something intriguing. Live tracks are a reward for those who already come see you and buy your stuff. They’re thrilled you’re giving back. And they won’t stop talking about you.
That’s how you succeed today. By having third parties hear about you from your fans. Which is why you want your fans talking about you constantly, to wear down the resistance of third parties. Don’t pressure your fans to convert others. Give them the tools, the music, and they’ll spread the word.
Come on, who hasn’t been on a car or plane ride with their seatmate boring them to death about their passion. But then, if you hear about this same passion from another person, you check it out.
5. Mistakes Count
In other words, make them. We’re all imperfect. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking chances. When you screw up, people love it and are endeared to you. Your screw-up evidences your humanity.
6. Don’t Shoot Beyond Your Limits
If you make klezmer music, you’re not gonna get on Top Forty radio. Be realistic. If you’re making cutting edge, dissonant music, few people will be interested, certainly at first. If your goal is to be ubiquitous, make music in a genre that dominates, like Top Forty/rhythmic or country.
7. Don’t Be Sour Grapes
Nobody likes a complainer.
8. Don’t Always Be Positive
This is hogwash spread by religious zealots and self-help book writers. Express your disappointment and frustration, just choose your moments. People love to sympathize, and they gloat in your triumph down the line.
9. Honesty & Transparency
Scalping and other ticket shenanigans are for the ancient classic rockers and the here today, gone tomorrow Top Forty stars. The more information you give people, the more they understand. Go to all-in ticketing. Those fees are promoter profit, not kickbacks to Ticketmaster, only acts can change this perception, to the benefit of the industry at large. Go paperless. If you’re not doing your best to get your hard core fans into the show, with their rumps in great seats, you’re doing it all wrong, you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
10. If You’re Not Going To Play Your Hits Say So
People might pay to see you once, but not again. If you’re not delivering what people expect, be sure they know. And play smaller halls and charge less.
If they’ve got credibility and a loyal audience they can get you tons of look-sees almost instantly. But you’d better be ready when you get the attention. Justin Bieber broke Carly Rae Jepsen. Howard Stern boosts careers on a daily basis. Stern has a reputation for being honest. If he endorses something, if he says it’s worth checking out, his audience does so. If you’re a classic rocker or a Gen-X’er there’s no better place to promote your product. But Howard does not take you from zero to sixty, you’ve already got to have a head of steam.
Just because someone has an audience, don’t believe they’ll give you a ride to commercial heaven. Most talking heads are meaningless. Get on morning television and you think you’ve made it, but you’re part of an inner circle of jerks unaware the rest of the world is laughing at you.
You’ve got to have them. They’re the ones who will get you gigs. Yup, you’ve got to have a good relationship with not only your fans, but other bands, so you can trade favors. If you think you can make it alone you’re wrong. It’s okay to have enemies, but if you have no allies, you’re going to be defeated.
Are for dummies. It’s a full time job keeping your position. And no one’s on top forever. You live in the heart of your fans. That can’t be quantified. Other than in your income, which no one other than yourself will ever truly know.
Be wary of it. Don’t try to be what others want you to be. They’re never satisfied. You’re best off being yourself. People don’t know what they want until you give it to them. Unless you’re giving them what they’ve already got, which puts a time stamp on your career. Ignore people who say your songs aren’t political, that you can’t play your instrument, that you’ve got to do it their way. Unless, of course, you’ve got no traction. But if you’ve made it, ignore the naysayers. They just want to turn you into a faceless ideal they’re going to put on the scrapheap. Artists are not remade. Artists are singular. Artist go against the grain. Artists are leaders.
Don’t heed it if it doesn’t feel good. Resonate with your inner tuning fork first and foremost. But don’t be afraid to question yourself, don’t be afraid to learn.