Your Fans Are Your Life-Blood, But

In fact, catering to your fans, and making yourself their best friend can boost your career like nothing else in the industry.

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Do you know who your fans are?

Many artists love the roar of the crowd. The more fans at a show, the better, right? It makes you feel good. It makes you look good to the venues. It helps sell merchandise. In fact, catering to your fans, and making yourself their best friend can boost your career like nothing else in the industry. But if you don't know your fans, you will never grow that audience, you will not build that reputation, and you will not sell merchandise.

Have you ever tried to offer a hamburger to a Vegan?

It didn't go over very well did it? In fact, they were probably very offended. So why do so many bands constantly do this to their audience? Are you offering your fans something they don't really want? Are you sure?

If you want to develop a bond with your newfound Vegan friend, you probably want to find out a lot more about them first. Then the embarrassing and sometimes bridge-burning moment of offering them a hamburger could be avoided. More so, in all likelihood you would be offering them something they really want instead, and putting a big smile on their face.

If you want to develop a bond with your newfound fans, you probably want to find out a lot more about them first. Then you can avoid the embarrassing and sometimes bridge-burning moment of offering them pink kitten buttons and give them the black, logo-driven t-shirt they really want, making them want to buy more from you.

What is an ideal fan?

Let's take a moment to examine your ideal fan, that person (however real or make-believe) that you wish all your fans were like. Top marketing experts agree that to focus your efforts towards this sort of super fan, you will immediately attract the attention of every person that fits 70% of the ideal fan's description. Can you imagine how many fans you will have when you easily begin attracting everyone that fits 70% of your ideal fan's description? That's a LOT of people! Maybe you can't imagine that yet. And that's because you have yet to describe your ideal fan.

Often, our ideal fan is an extension of ourselves. Think about it you are your #1 fan. Anyone else can claim to be your #1 fan, but when it comes down to it, no one is a fan of your band more than you are. So take a deep look at each of you in the band, and ask yourself what it would be like if you could combine all your likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, and habits into one single, super human.

Describe your audience.

Take a few minutes to describe your ideal fan in writing. Don't fret; it can take some time to get used to examining your fans in this way. Think about who you want to surround yourself with. What are the types of people that you love to have backstage hanging out with you? Get specific. Get very specific. The more detailed you can describe your ideal fan, the easier it will be to find them and turn them from fans into fanatics.

What does a day in the life of your ideal fan look like? What's his or her name? How old is he? Does she go to school? High school, college, something else? What does he do during the day, from waking up to going to bed? Is she religious? An Atheist? What hobbies does he have? What about movies she likes? Books? TV shows? Video games? What type of work does he do? What other types of music does she listen to? What about specific bands? What are his friends like? Where does she like to hang out? What websites does he go to the most?

This person is your band's life-blood. They are the person that will buy every piece of merchandise you put out, listen to all your music, tell everyone they can about you, and ultimately put food on your table and give you a long-lasting career in music. Know them.

Why it's important.

If you want to sell a hamburger to a Vegan, you better make sure that it's a Vegetarian burger. If your fans are mostly high-school age, would you be getting college sponsorships for your shows? Why not make a good friend of a high-schooler, who will build your street team in the right place? Or how about a house party? What if ideal fans are college-age church-goers? And what avenues do you have for reaching them if they're middle-aged businessmen?

What about the coffee shop they like to hang out at? Or was it tea? Would that be a good place to promote your shows, or possibly sell your CD? How about the place most of them buy their clothes?

Shows, promotions, sales, image, sound, performance, you name it; Your marketing and direction will become very clear once you know who exactly it is that you're catering to, where to find them, and what they would like from you.

So now you have a bunch of Vegan high-schoolers having house parties that the police have to shut down because there are way too many people and way too much noise. Isn't it great?!

If you know your fans well, you will be offering them things they want to buy from you. You will be giving them exactly the music and story they want and expect to hear from you. You will be making friends, and gaining a following, instead of the left-overs from the band that played before you. People will fall in love with you. You will be experiencing what many bands never get to experience a clear, well-informed knowing of who your audience is and what you have to offer them. Most of all, you will have a whole lot of friends, who all want to reciprocate what you've done for them. That beats just having nameless fans, any day.

What can you do to reach your fans, now that you know who and where they are, and what they're looking for?

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About the Author: On the tough and often dangerous path to making it in the music industry, Draven Grey has been described as a friend, guide, and schoolmaster. Draven is a professional musician, producer, and artist development specialist for Rockstar Mindset. To find out more, visit Rockstar Mindset, or sign up for our FREE 12-day mini-course on how to turn your rock band into a success.

Courtesy of Dotted Music

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Kwote
    Killer article Draven. I like your vegan analogy. My ideal fan likes Chicken.
    Rockinguitar
    The only thing I give fans who don't like my music is an autographed cliff to go jump off of lol
    CoreysMonster
    User_Name336 wrote: i dont see why i was quoted here... i didnt argue any points opposing you. i agree with you. but at the same time, if you're a bright, cheery, happy person who loves bright colours, going fishing, and has a happy life for example, chances are you aren't in a black metal band. if you are, then yes, appeal to your audience first. but i think somebody like that might be into country music or pop/rock or synth pop. in which case looking at their personality will influence their merch. usually the style of music you listen to directly relates to your personality so looking at yourself before the "generic crowd" you are expecting to be your fan base will give you a better representation of what they will want for merch. if you want black shirts with skulls, chances are they will. if you want an orange shirt with a rainbow, they probably will too.
    oh, sorry, I had meant to put a "+1" in that post I was only agreeing with you.
    Draven Grey
    User_Name336, I've seen the opposite hold true too, which was pretty confusing. I'm thinking of one particular artist I came across who had all the imagery of a hardcore, military-like, tattooed-ridden, muscle-bound, pantera fan, but his music was happy acoustic pop. Very confusing. His merch wasn't quite as confusing as his overall image, but the lack of consistency didn't help. I've also seen bands that try to be everything to everyone, and are much less effective than those who define their audience. And I completely agree about looking at yourself first. Your ideal fan is an extension of yourself - which I described in the article. The rest of the article is only one way of approaching how to do that, by looking at the people you surround yourself with (who are usually a reflection of you).
    User_Name336
    i dont see why i was quoted here... i didnt argue any points opposing you. i agree with you. but at the same time, if you're a bright, cheery, happy person who loves bright colours, going fishing, and has a happy life for example, chances are you aren't in a black metal band. if you are, then yes, appeal to your audience first. but i think somebody like that might be into country music or pop/rock or synth pop. in which case looking at their personality will influence their merch. usually the style of music you listen to directly relates to your personality so looking at yourself before the "generic crowd" you are expecting to be your fan base will give you a better representation of what they will want for merch. if you want black shirts with skulls, chances are they will. if you want an orange shirt with a rainbow, they probably will too.
    CoreysMonster
    User_Name336 wrote: i cant believe how many people actually believe this article wants you to change your music. it has nothing to do with that. it's saying to look at yourselves first. who are you? who are your band members? if you're all skaters, maybe promote in a skate shop. if you like to sit around and play video games, find a way to promote using that. the article is about self exploration and using commonalities within you and you band members to try to establish some common characteristics about merch and selling it. if you all love bright colours, dont get black shirts for example. if you're environmentalists, use earth friendly cd cases or completely digital distribution and advertise as such. that sort of thing...
    no matter what kind of music you are making, you have a type of audience you're trying to reach out to. if your audience is the underground ultra-black metal scene, you're probably not gonna want to include a poppy jingle-esque song in your set, or start singing about how much you love got. Gotta keep your image and sound consistant. Doesn't mean you can't experiement, but it has to be consistent nonetheless.
    User_Name336
    i cant believe how many people actually believe this article wants you to change your music. it has nothing to do with that. it's saying to look at yourselves first. who are you? who are your band members? if you're all skaters, maybe promote in a skate shop. if you like to sit around and play video games, find a way to promote using that. the article is about self exploration and using commonalities within you and you band members to try to establish some common characteristics about merch and selling it. if you all love bright colours, dont get black shirts for example. if you're environmentalists, use earth friendly cd cases or completely digital distribution and advertise as such. that sort of thing...
    ScorianVaseras
    My band struggles with this idea. I reckon some people get this, and others just don't. @ the subject of playing professionally for a living; I agree. You wouldn't go to uni for several years, just to make no money whatsoever, and if you did, it'd probably be a bit of a waste.
    lord_fREtheadIX
    I don't understand how this article is about changing your music, conforming or selling out at all. Not only is there anything about the music, the article is based on the concept of an ideal fan. You are not looking at the public, judging what they like and then changinf your music. You are rather, making whatever music you want, trying to visualize the type of people who would like such music, and then shaping your promotional tactics, not your music, so that more of such people get introduced to your music.
    jean_genie
    kennedys1 wrote: this article is like a double edged sword. yes you wanna please your audience and sell merch so you can gain some cash to keep your music career going, but also dont wanna conform to what other people are telling you. totally two sides to it, but overall, good article. P.S.- Cooked dead cow tastes awesome!
    I disagree. I see only one side to it. The article is about merch - not about music. You can sell whatever you want and play wherever you want without it having an impact on your music. Shoot, you could play Deathcore at the local church, if they'll let you. Keep your music the way it is - that's how you got the fans in the first place. But sales are about making money, so you need to make sure you can do that if you want to get paid. Use KISS as an example. Aside from a brief stint where they went 'unplugged' and without makeup, their music and appearances basically haven't changed. Their merch has. In the 70s most of their fans were young, so they sold a lot of lunchboxes and stickers. Now their fans are aging, and they introduced KISS babywear, and even a KISS 'koffin.' Same music. Unchanged to the point of ridicule. And yes you can say they sold out for money, but you CAN'T say they changed their music. Heck, I don't even think they bothered to practice anything different!
    kennedys1
    this article is like a double edged sword. yes you wanna please your audience and sell merch so you can gain some cash to keep your music career going, but also dont wanna conform to what other people are telling you. totally two sides to it, but overall, good article. P.S.- Cooked dead cow tastes awesome!
    Draven Grey
    hawk_kst, Start to look at the people you hang out with that come to your shows. Where do they hang out at, where do they shop, and where do they look for new music? Imagine how effective you will be with getting the attention of more people that will really like you and your music, when you know where your best prospects hang out, shop, and look for music, and you go to those places to find them. One of Aesop's Fables describes "a man, a boy, and a donkey" that try to please everyone and end up losing their as... umm donkey. Likewise, if you try to please everyone, and get every fan you can, you will water down your marketing, and it won't be nearly as effective. In essence, you will lose out on a great opportunity for gaining new fans in a way that most local bands don't really ever think about.
    hawk_kst
    I can see this working and applying slightly but only to big bands? I mean at the moment my band are quite small in Nottingham and the die hard fans that come to all our gigs are literally they people we spend all our time with anyway! At this stage we're not aiming for an ideal fan, we're aiming for any fan that wants to listen to us!
    One Of My Turns
    to the people saying things along the lines of "music is about playing what you want, not what you think people want you to play"... if you READ the article, you would notice that the first and most important thing was to DEFINE who your fans are. if you do this properly, you will be free as a bird, musically. and if your tastes change over time, chances are that the bulk of your fanbase will have no major objection and you might just pick up some new fans as you develope. YES, music is about the joy of playing. but if you want to do it successfully and make a sustainable living out of it, then this article is a VERY solid piece of advice. take heed.
    Adrienne Osborn
    Thanks, Draven. This all makes a lot of sense. I don't have a lot more to add than what's already been commented: Be yourself, but if you want to make money, be yourself in a marketable way!
    Red1337Sox
    Dream Floyd wrote: WTF is up with the vegan part... vegans are just attention seekers...
    Super fail
    redisni
    I applaud the author, and the positive comments this article spanned, namely Catrolean. The point about PROFESSIONAL musicians is that they COMPOSE AND PLAY FOR A LIVING. And have the urge of getting their product "on the shelves". Also (inb4 "trolled"), I think that a lot of people here should be banned from the internet
    RATMRUSH
    Dream Floyd wrote: WTF is up with the vegan part... vegans are just attention seekers... fail
    BobBlunn
    Nice article Draven. It make sense to focus marketing efforts to get the most payback possible by targeting the "right" fan base. Thanks for sharing & Jam ON!
    ajreciever14
    catrolean wrote: I think that one of his major points is that this is how people make money in the music business. If you're going to be performing for a living, would you like to eat? And he didn't say anywhere in there that you had to change your music. The article was mainly about promotion, so your comment is really off topic, but if changing you really want people to like you but you aren't willing to make an effort, then get used to your parents' basement.
    i both lol'd and applauded! +10,000
    catrolean
    that guy Strife wrote: Fine article, if you want to really cater to a certain crowd. Point is, I want people to like my stuff. I don't want to make music or even t-shirts just to please some people.
    I think that one of his major points is that this is how people make money in the music business. If you're going to be performing for a living, would you like to eat? And he didn't say anywhere in there that you had to change your music. The article was mainly about promotion, so your comment is really off topic, but if changing you really want people to like you but you aren't willing to make an effort, then get used to your parents' basement.
    that guy Strife
    Fine article, if you want to really cater to a certain crowd. Point is, I want people to like my stuff. I don't want to make music or even t-shirts just to please some people.
    COBShredder
    sorry, i misswrote that lol, its BS to limit your self to please your audience play whatever you like
    COBShredder
    Have you ever tried to offer a hamburger to a Vegan? It didnt go over very well did it? In fact, they were probably very offended. So why do so many bands constantly do this to their audience? Are you offering your fans something they dont really want? Are you sure? i personally think this is BS because its bullshit to, maybe at a certain point, limit your self your audience. you play what you feel like playing, not giving a shit if people like you, if they do cool, if they dont they probably will, with time.
    ChucklesMginty
    Dream Floyd wrote: WTF is up with the vegan part... vegans are just attention seekers...
    There are not enough facepalms in the world for that statement. Anyways, great article. Lots of useful stuff in there.
    Draven Grey
    Thanks...our ideal fan definitely is a carnivore all the way! The Vegan analogy is the best way I found to articulate how necessary it is to know and get inside your ideal fan's head. -Draven