The Importance of Developing an Incredible Experience for Fans
Guest blog by Alison Perdue
I find that from everything that I have been studying about artist success, whether it has been from conferences, videos, or books, none of them have really focused or elaborated on the power of the quality of an experience that an artist creates for their fans. From the familiarity of having always been a super fan myself and being surrounded by like minded friends, I am able to honestly state that a huge contributing factor to the overall success of an artist boils down to the experience that they create for fans. Whether it is during live shows, on social media, or in person, a consistent delivery of a unique experience that surpasses peoples’ expectations will always create a lasting and resonating effect.
A common mistake that upcoming artists may be subject to is underestimating the value and potential of their first few fans. As Derek Sivers stated in his How to Create Movement TED Talk, “the most important person while creating a movement isn’t the leader, it’s the first follower that has the courage to follow and persuade others to do the same.” An unknown artist needs to give people a reason to support them, as well as provide current fans with a reason to remain a fan, and to develop into a super fan. Part supporting an artist is the investment of time and money- two of the most valued things in society, and an experience is going to convince people that their music is worth the investment. Fans also want to feel as though their time and efforts are being appreciated, and once an artist creates a memorable experience for them, recognition of their support is validated. There is a reason that fans of certain artists are willing to camp out at concerts, buy multiple copies of the same album, purchase as much merchandise as possible, or create a dedicated social media accounts for that specific artist. It is because those fans feel as though the experience that they receive from supporting an artist outweighs the time and, money that they dedicate, and confirms that their efforts are not being wasted.
While I was in Portugal a few months ago, I came up with an idea which I call the sparkler effect. At most restaurants and bars that I passed by, there were certain drinks and desserts that came with a sparkler, a simple gesture that had a huge effect on attracting attention as well as increasing sales. Receiving a sparkler created the sense of pleasure, and made the night more memorable and special for the individual who obtained it. By passers and other dinners seeing the sparklers in certain drinks and desserts were immediately persuaded and more inclined to order the same item, not necessarily for what is was, but for the experience that it offered. A box of sparklers is simple, and probably costs no more than a few dollars, however the effect and experience that it offered was lasting, unique, and effective.
Now going back to the music industry, making the effort to embed an experience into different aspect of an artists’ career will automatically increase the quality of a fan’s experience, as well as attract other fans who are noticing the unique experience being offered. Personally, I find that the standard of fan interactions is low, which means that surpassing fans’ expectations can be done quite easily. Artists should consider what is currently being done for fans and determine how to increase that experience. For example, Twitter has recently introduced twitter videos, so instead of simply tweeting people back, take the extra time to do something that a fan will surely appreciate and recognize.
A good example of developing a unique fan experience is what Taylor Swift did for her 1989 album release; every album came with a set Polaroid pictures, and there were about four different sets of polaroids available in the different albums. Not only were fans inclined to buy one physical copy of the album, but some even made the effort to buy several, simply to collect all of the polaroids. Additionally, Swift encouraged fans to post pictures of the album and of the polaroids on social media, which she personally reposted herself. Due to the buzz that had been created across social media, even individuals who were not necessarily fans of Swift became more inclined to buy the album, simply to be a part of the movement that was occurring. Most of the time people just want to be a part of something, and if an artist is offering an amazing experience for their fans, it is very likely that many others will be inclined to listen to that artist simply to be a part of that experience.
Another key element to be aware of is that a bad experience can generate just as much word of mouth and memorability as a good experience. Ed Sheeran once said in an interview that an artist may only have one bad day out of one hundred, however, the fans meeting the artist on that particular day will only ever get the impression of them being rude and unappreciative. Part of an amazing experience as being a fan is hearing other peoples’ good experiences with the artist because it validates the artists’ image, and a fans’ beliefs in them. However, a bad experience has the potential to be a huge let down as well as cause damage to how fans view the artist and their relationship with them.
An experience can be created in virtually every aspect of an artists’ career, whether it’s on social media, live shows, or in person, there is always an opportunity to show appreciation towards fans, which can and should be done at any level of success. In an industry cluttered with the music of thousands, if not millions, of different artists, music alone isn’t enough to convince an audience that an artist is worth actively supporting, or worth investing time and money into. Great music may be enough to compel fans to buy concert tickets, however it won’t be enough to make them inclined to line up for 15 hours prior to the show. There’s a difference. And an incredible experience is the defining factor.
Additional Ways to Create an Experience:
- Take advantage of social media, get to know your fans, and treat them accordingly. If an artist consistently offers unique opportunities to dedicated fans, newer fans will receive a glimpse of the same potential relationship that they could have with the same artist, encouraging them to remain dedicated and to go to more extremes for them. Creating more of a unique and intimate relationship with the most dedicated fans also proves to them that their efforts are being recognized and appreciated. Some examples could include commenting on fans’ posts, having short conversations with them via direct messaging (which they will post likely screenshot and post to twitter), posting pictures with them to Instagram, sending them birthday tweets, giving shout-outs to them in videos, etc.
- Take a minute and meet people. A lot of the time, fans are willing to line up for hours with the simple hope of merely catching a glimpse of their favourite artist. From the perspective of a fan, nothing is more meaningful than when an artist takes the time to interact with them, which is possible at any level of success. Take Ed Sheeran for example; when he was in Toronto, he took pictures with the fans outside of his hotel INSTEAD of driving out through the underground parking, he rolled down the window for fans waiting outside the arena venue INSTEAD of driving by them, and on top of all that, he came outside the venue after his show to meet the fans waiting by his tour buses. Artists should ever use fame as an excuse to disregard fans, because the few minutes that they aren’t willing to sacrifice will end up damaging their career in the long-term.
- At the end of the day, a good experience comes down to putting as much time and effort into fans as they put into their artists. Last Year, Taylor Swift took the time to find her biggest fans on social media, whom she rewarded by inviting them to a secret event which they knew nothing about. Once arrived at the secret location, they were surprised by Swift herself and an exclusive listen of her new album before it was released, these events became known as the “1989 Secret Sessions“. Another good example of how Swift utilized social media to get to know her fans was an event that became known as “Swiftmas”. Not only did she dedicate time to finding her biggest fans online through sites such as Tumblr, she also spent time getting to know them, their interests and hobbies. With this information, Swift sent selected fans boxes filled with hand picked and chosen specifically presents for Christmas.
Alison Perdue runs KismetThoughts.com