Here at D.I.-Why, we work with all kinds of clients. Each one, quite honestly, thinks they’re the best at what they do. In the interest of getting paid, we should probably agree with them. At times though, it’s tough. We’re not a bunch of ass-kissers, and we don’t take clients simply for the cash. Quite a few of our clients came to us because someone else made an undeliverable promise. Usually it’s something like “we’ll make you rich or famous.” Other times it’s “you can do it all yourself!” None of those promises are ever true.
What separates the great clients from the I’ll-never-quit-my-day-job crowd is that special something. The special sauce, the “why I should give a fuck” piece that elevates you from everybody else. It’s not a calculable quantity, and it’s not something that’s accomplished by selling music on Facebook. For the record, it won’t make a difference if you have a “tip jar” on your store page, and it definitely doesn’t come from witty Tweets and status updates. It comes from … within. It comes from … experience. It comes from … being really fucking good at what you’re doing and understanding that fans come from great music and great experiences.
Before you say we’re just nattering nabobs of negativity, think about it for a minute. What are you doing better/differently/expertly? Why should fans invest their ears or cash in you?
We’re working with a most excellent band named Kosmoratik. They came to D.I.-Why because they couldn’t quantify and understand their success. With one album recently released, they had amassed over 10,000 fans on Facebook. The secret to their success was the quality. There were no corners cut on the production, the writing, the instrumentation, the anything. They had immense respect for their fans and were more concerned with building a community than they were with collecting an email address and integrating a direct-to-fan platform.
This is smart.
Armed with the Internet, your (potential) fans have gotten much smarter. They’ve also gotten a lot pickier. There’s so much more to listen to and so many more ways to listen. It’s easier for musicians to get ignored now than at any time in the past. As a result, musicians seem to feel the need to “pitch” potential fans like they were used car salesmen. When you feel like you’re being marketed to, it’s akin to being treated like a commodity and not a fan. Amanda Palmer gets this. Kosmoratik does too. They’re both asking you to share the experience. They understand that your fans will pay for something of value but they resent the sales pitch.
Consider this recent article: For the First Time, Records of the Past Are Outselling New Ones . There’s a piece of logic that dictates older music is more cost friendly, but consider the folks like Amanda Palmer and Kosmoratk. Their successes are coming from everything but selling music. It’s from the opportunities for engagement and community-ness that have spring from their activities. People want to be a part of the experience. They want to build memories. Going to the record store and buying the new Carly Rae Jepsen CD can’t provide that same sense of excitement and belonging that you get from a private concert with your favorite artist that you helped support as they were coming up and that you can actually talk to on Facebook. People pay for experiences — not music.
The lesson: Wrap your music in the experience.