Posted tagged ‘fans’

3 Big Mistakes That Artists Make

November 8, 2010

The below suggestions have probably appeared on Grassrootsy in various posts, but last week I thought I’d loosely keep tabs on artist emails and FB messages and tweets  just to see what people are still doing these days.  Here are a few…

1. Falling off the map
What!?  Who are you?  Oh…I almost forgot because I haven’t heard from you in 3 months!  This might be a pet peeve of mine.  Don’t send your fans an email every 3 months and expect them to remember who you are. In the age of over-saturation, you’ll have a much greater shelf-life if you communicate too often as opposed to not enough. Falling off the map after having a successful run is like going 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Granted, everyone needs a break at some point. But occasionally touch base with your fans to remind them you still exist. See: Setting the Record Straight: Reminding People You Still Exist for more thoughts on the matter.

2. Launch a website with nothing on it.
This is aonther personal pet peeve of mine.  If you want people to be interested in your music, don’t send them a Facebook invite to your band’s page if there’s no music on it. Duh. And don’t send people a link to your new website if it’s completely blank. What is it you want them to see when they get there?

This is also equivalent to inviting your friends to an event via Facebook. Let’s say you want your friends to come see you and “John Doe” perform at club “XYZ”.  Make sure the Facebook invite has links to both your websites.  That way, folks can actually check out your music and make an informed decision about attending the show. An informed fan is an involved one. People will eat the information you give them so make sure you give them something worth digesting. See: Perception is Reality for more on this.

2. No email address?
Yea, you probably have one but if you don’t put it on your website, no one would ever know!  Have you noticed that you can’t  send messages to the administrator of a Facebook Page. Annoying. So if you don’t have your email address in the “Info” section (or better yet, in the information box on the home page), how can anyone reach you? Some things aren’t meant for the Facebook wall.

And, believe it or not, folks still use MySpace to check out new artists.  But at this point, you should know you can’t email someone on MySpace unless you have an account…and people aren’t really creating MS accounts these days.  SO if you don’t have your email address in a very visible location, you’re potentially missing out on bookings…etc.

Even worse is having a website with no email address on the contact page. Contact forms are great, but an email address will travel further, faster.

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What Are Your Thoughts on House Shows?

July 7, 2010

Brooke Annibale. Pittsburgh, PA. 
THE QUESTION: I was wondering if you’ve done many house shows in the region and how your experiences have been. Ever get any strangers requesting house shows that seem shady? Or have most of them been with people you know? Or established “house show houses.” Just really looking for any advice in this area that you may be willing to offer. Maybe you’ve done a blog about it that i’ve missed you could just pass on.

THE ANSWER: Yea, check out this Grassrootsy blog specifically on house shows:House Shows – Small Crowd, Big Return“. It’s got alot of helpful information!

Personally speaking, I do alot of house shows. I do them especially during seasons when  i don’t have time to promote official shows. I actually havent done any shady house shows before. In fact, they’ve always been really profitable and little or no work at all to put together.  In general, most of my house shows come through people who have been to shows in the past or through friends of friends.

To get into the practice of doing house shows, heres’ what you can do:

1. Pitch the Idea to Your Fans. Tweet, post a status update or, put a little paragraph in your newsletter(s)telling your fans that you’re starting to take on more house shows. Since we’re in the heat of the summer, pitch it as the perfect idea for a weekend barbeque, a summer evening get-together for friends, a house party, or a potluck.

2. Consider Charging a Fee. When pitching yourself for house shows, negotiate your fee with the host. I think you should decide what you think is best. Maybe a fixed fee or a donation bucket for attendees to contribute to. Keep in mind that statistically, musicians make more $ at house shows than at gigs. It’s just a crazy fact that has alot to do with the intimacy and one-on-one interaction with guests. More on this here.

3. Draw Up a Contract. If you think that someone is questionable or that you’re about to dive into a shady house show experience, here are your options.

  • Run! Don’t do the show if you don’t feel comfortable about it.
  • Give it a try; see what happens. The great thing about house shows is that you’re not really losing all that much…except some time.
  • Draw up a simple contract and have them sign and give it to you when you arrive at their place. Tell them not to stress over the contract but that its something you have to do since its not an official venue. More on creating contracts/invoices here.

Good luck!

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Planting Seeds: 10 Tips for Growing a Strong Following

April 12, 2010

I created a garden yesterday in my backyard, which prompted me to write this post.

According to the continually evolving reader’s poll, building a strong following is still the biggest frustration for indies.  Here are some tips for working on this.  If you have additional suggestions, post them below.

1. Don’t contact your fans only when you want them to do something for you (i.e. come to your show, vote for you in some contest, etc) .

2. Respond to your fans’ emails on a timely basis.

3. Use twitter. Tweet, Re-tweet, reply to others. If “word of mouth” had a home, it would be twitter.

4. Engage. Just because it doesn’t matter to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

5. Avoid the Green Room. Ok, you don’t exactly have to avoid it, but don’t hide out. Stick around the audience before and after the show. Talk to People.

6. Do House Shows. They’re purposely more intimate and make it easy for you to connect with your audience. This is why people love them. (more on this)

7. Be authentic. Don’t give off a movie-star vibe…especially if you’re not one.

8. Visit and Revisit the same cities. Ok, maybe you want to conquer the world. Realistically you can’t. Pick a handful of cities and aim to play out in those areas as often as possible.

9. The Email List. This will never change as the single most important way to maintain communication with your followers. (more on this)

10. Put Yourself in Their Shoes. Your reaction to your favorite band’s music may be similar to your fans’ reaction to your music.

Know that, just like a plant, good things take time to grow and that big things are a basically a composite of several little things. Do the above little things and your fanbase will certainly grow.  Overnight? Definitely not. But it will definitely grow.

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Getting Your Fans to Review Your Music

April 6, 2010

Jessica Sonner

It’s great if they post a comment or a review of your album without you asking, but why not go out of your way to ask you fans to say a good word or two…or three

Why does it matter?
Fan comments are a big deal, after all, its the fans that fuel the flame, right? Their your mouth…your “word of mouth”. When a fan drops a nice note or an enthusiastic “I can’t believe your music is so freakin’ amazing!” post on your facebook, that encourages others to check out your tunes, get excited about your music, and possibly download a song.

Where Are They Saying?
Here are a couple very important places where your fans’s words will be noted:

  • iTunes: People read reviews before they buy music. It would be worth asking your fans to put up a kind word or two when downloading your album. By the way, you probably knew this already but iTunes has simplified urls. In other words, if your music is on iTunes, you can direct fans to I’m not sure what they’re doing for artists with incredibly common names.
  • CDBaby: Similar to iTunes, people will read reviews when they’re considering buying your tunes.
  • Facebook Page: Don’t put your wall setting to only show your bands updates. Make sure your fans comments are visible. I’d argue that the “Wall” might actually be more important than the “Info” page.
  • Your Site’s Guestbook: Many people think guestbooks are useless. I’ve always seen guestbooks as just another great way for fans to communicate with you. Check out Jessica Sonner’s guestbook for ideas. It’s clean simple, and the long list of entries prove that she has a devoted following. Guestbooks also are  not exclusive like Facebook where only FB members can comment.
  • Twitter: If your fans say something nice about your music, retweet it. Why not.

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Free Things Your Fans Will Love #2

December 2, 2009


Joel Rakes

 If you’d like to show your fanbase a little love this year, here are some ideas.  After you try them, leave a note in the comments section and let us know how they work. And here’s the first post in this series: Free Things Your Fans Will Love.  

A Christmas Card
Think of Christmas time as a way to thank your fans for everything they’ve done for you throughout the year- their support, coming out to shows, buying your music, spreading your name. Put a pretty bow on your thank you.  Send your subscribers a digital card with a picture of yourself and friendly note.  Some people will read it. Some won’t. But those who read it will definitely appreciate it. 

A Free Christmas Tune
Nashville Artist Joel Rakes takes the cake on this one.  For three years, Rakes have been giving away a free download every week during the Christmas season.  That’s 3 years of free Christmas EPs!  This year he’s on Festive.Mood.Inducing.Music Vol.4

Think of this season as an opportunity to really build your fanbase. Free tunes are a great way to do this.  It’s much like a free concert.  You’ll earn the ear of people who might not go out of their way to discover you, otherwise.  Once you’ve earned their “trust” or their fanship, their likely to pay to see your or buy your music in the future.   

Joel Rakes also started an event invite on Facebook for his free tunes. With currently 207 people subscribed, that’s alot of people to send a free song each week.  And the number keeps rising.  What a great way to get you name out. But don’t get stressed, fans will appreciate one song a season just as much as a full EP. 

The Moral of the Story
Take a break from asking asking asking.  As artists, we’re continually asking people to give us money, vote for us in competitions, and come to our shows. Throw your fans a curve ball and do something nice for them. 


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Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #3

July 6, 2009
Ari Hest

Ari Hest

To read the first two posts in this series, visit
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #1
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #2

Artist #1: Ari Hest
Brooklyn, New York’s Ari Hest stands out for several reasons.  Aside from his excellent vocals and simple tunes, Ari has found a way to engage his fans by making them a part of the music-making process. In 2008, he made it his goal to write, record, and release one song per week for all 52 weeks.

According to Ari, the concept was a huge success. He gained over 1000 subscribers who willingly paid for each weekly download, but also had people pay for songs individually if they only liked certain ones.  Read all about it here.  Even though the 2008 project is over, fans can and still do buy specific mp3s or all 52 songs in the collection.

And now…for the kicker: Ari’s latest CD, appropriately titled Twelve Mondays, which was released in March ’09, is a compilation of 12 of the 52 songs – handpicked by his fans. 

If you think about it, the whole year of 2008 was one huge publicity campaign in preparation of his 2009 release.  As Ari continually provided fresh material for his fans on a weekly basis (which kept them coming back), word spread and he was able to maintain the attention of his audience. What a genius idea!

The most important thing about this project was that Ari did not release “crap” on a weekly basis.  Even though his time was limited, he produced excellent music which ultimately proves that people will support you if you’re good and hard working. Visit his myspace.

Amy Kuney

Amy Kuney

  Artist #2: Amy Kuney
Los Angeles artists Amy Kuney, has found a niche market that the average artist would never think to pursue – middle school and highschool students.  Check out this letter she’s posted on her website:

Attn. All STUDENTS – Fall High/Middle School Tour:

So I’ve been touring middle and high schools and I’m loving it so much that I’m going to do it again in the fall. If you are a student and would like for me to play at your school, please email: Audrey Marshall at

Include the following information:
1. Your Name
2. Your School’s Name
3. Where Your School Is Located
4. Your Principal’s full name and email address

I’ll do my best to make it happen!

While it’s often hard to be completely innovative and think outside the box, aim to be original in your  musical pursuits. That might not necessarily involve singing to 6th graders, but there’s always a way to be different.


Thanks for reading, please continue to pass this on to your fellow music-makers.
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Helping Yourself #3

January 1, 2009

Natalie Gelman


Here is the 3rd installment in this “Helping Yourself” series.  Also check out the Helping Yourself #1 and Helping Yourself #2 posts.

To recap, Derek Sivers wrote a blog called Nobody’s Going to Help You.  Does that encourage you or discourage you?  Several singer-songwriters and industry reps responded to the post with their two cents.  Here is Natalie Gelman’s comment and my response to that.  (Don’t forget to read Sivers’ post so to get the whole picture)


Response # 6,494 by Natalie Gelman 

  • “I think its important to think positively and work to attract the success you want no matter what field its in. It always surprises me when goals of mine like playing a certain club come into being because of connections I made and people I helped who are returning favors so to speak.
    [read full response] 
  • If it frustrates you that no one will help you then be the person that helps others – set up a gig for another band, start a section in your newsletter about other bands, restaurants, etc to check out. Feel free to let them know you did that and maybe they will reciprocate somehow. As Derek said in his conferences blog its about personal connections.”


I think Natalie’s suggestion is spot-on!  How much do you network?  Is it important to you to regularly meet other musicians.  Do you get into conversation with your fans at shows.  Or are you one of those people who plays your set and clearls the bar immediately after?  Networking is key.  Here are some tips at how you can help yourself by making connections and help yourself by helping others.

  • 1]  Helping Yourself by Making Connections:  
    Go to Open Mic!  I don’t think any aspiring singer-songwriter should be above this.  I used to think going to Open Mic was about getting my music out to new ears.  While that’s important, I think its even more imporant to go and meet new faces. Talk to fellow musicians. It doesnt even necessarily have to be about music.  Develop relationships with the people you will most likely be splitting shows with in the future. 
  • Don’t Be Hands Off!  Don’t set yourself apart from your audience.  Be approachable and genuine. After you play your set, sit in the audience while the other band is doing their set.  If a “fan” wants to have a conversation with you, that’s awesome!  And I promise you that they’ll come to more shows (and tell more people about you) if you’re personable. And you never know if the person you’re talking to has connections that can take you to the next level.  You can get pretty sweet gigs just by being yourself.  Hopefully “yourself” isn’t a jerk 🙂 
  • p.s. don’t forget to have a business card handy.  (more on this)
  • 2] Helping Yourself by Helping Others 
    Natalies comment about helping others is so important.  She’s basically said “be the change you want to see.”  Don’t be stingy with your music.  If someone asks you to do a gig and you can’t play, pass the opportunity to a fellow artist.  Create shows and put together showcases featuring other musicians in your area. Seriously, its so important to create an atmosphere where everyone is looking out for everyone.  Alot more gets accomplished.  Alot less selfishness = alot more accomplished.
  • For more on Networking, check out the Networking archives


Thanks for reading.  If you could, please,  let other artists know about this blog.  And don’t forget to subscribe yourself.  Here’s to making great music in 2009.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


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