Remembering Where You Came From
Growing up, I remember many of my friends around me were calling up and coming bands “sell outs,” either because an indie punk band would sign onto a major label or they moved away from the genre of music. Whatever the case, it’s something that isn’t thrown around as much anymore. Perhaps fans have gotten a little more sophisticated and realize that the favorite bands they’re rooting for will sometimes need financial support to continue making music or get some outside help. But the one thing that a fan will never forgive you for is if you forget your roots.
In this industry, relationships are everything. Having good rapport with local venues will make sure that you continue to get good shows. Having a genuine relationship with fans can give you a street team, a karge email database, or a loud “voice” of the public when you have something that needs to be heard. Yet people are too quick to forget those who helped them out to begin with. Rather than ranting on the negativities of that road, let’s focus on how we can better build up the relationships we already have:
- A Thoughtful note: Very few people send out handwritten notes these days, making them all the more special. When you’re on tour, pick up some postcards for your favorite fans and mail them as a surprise. Send thank you cards or “thinking of you” notes to writers who gave you a good review or anyone else who has helped your career.
- Be Genuine. A great article just came out on a local Portland band. Their ultimate “fall” was trying so hard to be a success that they forgot who they were. In business terms, it’s your “branding” and your group’s “story.” You have to keep it authentic and genuine.
- Keep a database. Create a spreadsheet of “super fans,” press, people you work with. Have notes about most recent contact or follow-up items. It seems like a pain but it can save you a lot of time in the long run. Mailing list management sites like Fanbridge have some great tools that can help you segment your email contacts.
- Reward them. Find creative ways you can give back to the people who have helped you out in the beginning. It doesn’t have to be another “free MP3” (come on, how many promo’s have artists done with that?). Do something unique. Throw a party and make everyone dinner, send them flowers or toys. Freestyle rap a thank you song in a video.
Whatever you do, keep it thoughtful, unique, and genuine. That’s how you build on the past to create yourself a bigger future.