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February 1, 2011

It's all about engagement ...

This morning there are some great articles in various other publication that point to something I've been thinking about for a while now: building a career as an Indie is all about directly engaging with people who like what you do.

It starts with Kyle Bylin's Music Think Tank post (repeated in Hypebot) about how music fans value music more if they've put effort into collecting/reviewing/filtering it. Great point, and one I've argued for a while: downloading and storing an MP3 is a way of taking ownership of it. Sucking stuff from the Cloud is just like having the radio on - it's OK, but not something you necessarily engage with.

The fault in Bylin's article is that it relies far too much on the usual stereotypes of consumer behaviour: "casual" fans vs "core" fans and so on. In my view, the industry will never come to terms with music-buying behaviour while they rely on such crude categorisations. People buy music, and people are inconsistent and irrational. They change constantly: one hour they're a core consumer and the next they tend towards casual. It depends on what else is happening in their lives.

The next article that caught my eye was one in Hypebot about what works in Facebook fan pages. Not surprisingly, Linkin Park discovered that it was less about "content" and more about "a personalized connection" with the band. "Engagement, interest and constant connection keep fans coming back on Facebook", as the author put it ...

Let me suggest that these are related. When a person "likes" your band on Facebook, they are putting effort into forming a relationship with the artists. As with all relationships, these work best when the band reciprocates by paying the fan some attention. It's not rocket surgery: people value you most if they put effort into liking you and you respond by putting some effort into them.

The Takeout for Indies:

I'd take this further: the best time to build lasting fan relationships is NOT online. It's at gigs, when the person has taking the time to come and see you, sing and dance along and perhaps eve meet you face-to-face. If you take the time and put in the effort to meet that person and thank them for their effort, you are likely to begin a relationship that will support your music. You can then extend it by asking them for further efforts: buying your latest release, helping promote your show, sending you some live footage that might be used in a film clip, turning up at the video shoot to appear in a film clip ... and so on.

All of this makes much more sense of Michael Epstein's Music Think Tank article: Seven Rules for Effective Social Networking for Artists.

Posted by DrHuge at February 1, 2011 11:49 AM

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