An MTV study has revealed seven key areas that modern music fans expect from their favorite underground artists. There's some strong lessons for you and your band in here - can you work on any of them?
1. Fans expect 'Zero Distance'
Remember that old line about how everyone in the world is connected to within six people? The internet has made that number much smaller, and you need to make it easy for any fan to have only one degree of separation so they can connect straight to you. Being active on Twitter and Facebook makes you available to fans in a way that was impossible before.
2. Fans like being 'friends' with bands
The difference between a fan enjoying your band and being a fanatic who tells everyone about them can be as simple as feeling like they have a personal connection with you. It's really an extension of point one; 75% of young music fans feel a personal connection with artists who are open about their personalities, and almost all of them say it's okay for an artist to have some human flaws. Everyone has endearing human qualities which are worth sharing with a fan base.
3. Fans expect certain behaviour from each social platform
There's a few rules-of-thumb that have emerged from each social platform. These points will help guide your content updates, but feel free to break these rules for opportunities to personally connect with fans:
Facebook is like a band's homepage and includes all official announcements for tours, albums and new.
Twitter is to updates on micro-activities, like which instrument is being recorded in the studio or funny tour stories.
Instagram is for sharing snapshots of the world through your eyes. Beautiful new guitar? Dingy old apartment? That's your life. Share it.
Tumblr is the perfect blogging platform because it's so simple to use, and some fans love subscribing to long rambling streams of consciousness. It's a great place to connect on a mental level, and to share media from the internet that you like which might not be relevant to the band at all.
4. Fans love to co-create with you
Harness the power of that crowd of followers by giving them a creative challenge. Dare them to make a parody cover of your latest song, or run competitions to design gig posters. Maybe their doodles can be part of your next piece of artwork.
5. Fans listen to albums less, shuffle tracks more
Okay, so the rock genre is still perfect for listening to albums from start to end, but we can still draw a solid idea from this point.
Every music fan likes finding new music, so try building playlists which include your tracks but also show off your awareness of great similar artists. Do this every month or two, and people will start to return to see what new goods you've got... and start to share it with their friends too. You're building a reputation and bringing new and regular traffic to your sites.
How should you build these playlists? Two obvious ways are to embed Soundcloud tracks in a Tumblr post, or the throw a playlist together in Spotify to embed on your site.
6. Fans aren't put off by 'selling out'
Selling out isn't such a big deal as it was in the '90s. It's normal and expected for bands to actively market themselves, and the ones who don't will often fail before they get a chance to take off.
If you get the chance to place a song on a commercial, it's not as bad as you might think - in this era of free music streams, fans are starting to understand that you need to make your money from somewhere.
7. Buying music is a symbol of a fan's commitment
Fans have the option to steal your music. Horrible, I know. This is why their purchase should be so highly valued by you - they've made a statement that they love your music, probably after hearing it elsewhere, and actively want to enjoy it again and again. You have to value that, and thank people personally when you get the chance. Send them an email if they register it with you during the purchase.
What other lessons have you picked up while building a relationship with your fan base? Join the discussion in the comments, and feel free to ask questions in the comments where UG staff will be taking part.
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