Chasing Your Tail
The other day I watched my puppy chase his tail. The closer he got to catching his tail, the further away it got. When he finally caught it, he hadn’t really “gotten” anywhere — just a lot of running in circles and the belief that you’re actually getting somewhere when in fact you’re not.
On the music side, there’s a lot of tail chasing going on. You think that gaining certain results will move you forward, but in fact they’re just not getting you anywhere. Nowhere is this more apparent than on social media.
We’ll get clients calling that say things like “In order to be taken seriously, we need to have a huge number of fans on Facebook.” And as a barometer of success, large numbers do help. While everybody wants to discover the amazing band that nobody’s ever heard of, fans instinctively latch on to bands that are already successful.
So what happens? Well, there’s two options. First you could run a massive campaign to drive fans to your Facebook page (or YouTube channel, or whatever…). You’re targeting a particular demographic that statistically likes you (fans of a particular artist, in a particular region, age, gender, etc).
Unfortunately, with more targeting comes a higher cost.
The other, and slightly more shady option, is to buy fans. Search the Internet and you’ll find all kinds of sites offering “5,000 real Facebook fans for $50.” Are they real? Doubtful. Does it raise your overall number of fans? Yup. It’s cheap, it raises the number, so what’s the problem? Lots of things.
First off, you’ve now got a number, so it looks impressive, but what have you actually accomplished? You’ve skyrocketed to 25,000 fans, but none of them are going to buy your music, come to your gig, or engage with you on your page. So the end effect is minimal.
Worst case scenario: You’ve purchased tons of fans for your Facebook page, tens of thousands of views of your YouTube video, and used those “real” numbers to get a gig at a huge venue. The gig rolls around and you draw 25 people. Total bomb. Venue isn’t going to bring you back, you look foolish.
So what’s the solution? What’s the magic bullet? What’s the fast, easy, and effortless way to become a successful musician? Nothing new here.
The most successful communications tool you have is email. The best way to win over fans is by getting them to your gigs. Sound familiar?
Build your mailing list at every gig. Send newsletters regularly. Gig constantly. You should also engage on social media, but there is no substitute for live performance. Newsletters are an opportunity to spotlight whatever you have going on. Use a platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact, and track who’s opening the emails, what links are more popular, and understand what your fans are interested in. It works for 50 fans just as well as it does for 50,000.
Skip these things, and you’ll just end up chasing your tail.