You need to get ears hearing the brilliant music you’ve worked so hard on. you need people to love you, and more importantly, pay your rent. Who are these people? If you can identify them, figure out where they’re going to listen to music, how they buy it, what attracts them to a band, then you’ll find it much easier to make yourself available to them. Transmit on the channels they’re already receiving on and you’ll see the ranks of your fans grow much faster.
Getting to know your fans means doing some research. When someone befriends you on myspace, message them asking about how they found you. Keep a record and add to it. When someone buys a CD or a t-shirt off you after a gig, get them to give you some details about themselves.
Collect postcodes, mobile numbers, email addresses, anything that makes it easier for you to tell fans when you’re next playing, or what fabulous new bit of your merchandise they can buy. Don’t pester them, no-one wants to fill out a 10 page questionnaire when all they were after was a badge: there are some sheets on the tools page that you can use as templates.
Consider ways to get people to part with their contact information. Using mobile services like StarTxt.com to distribute mobile content means you can send people tracks or wallpaper in return for their mobile numbers (if you have a lot of 14 year old girls in your fan club, that is).
A great tool for collecting information is the google forms service. If you don’t have a google account, sign up for one online in about 30 seconds, and you’ll be able to use google documents for word processing and spreadsheets. Alongside these applications is the forms service, which lets you build questionnaires to embed into widgets (see the sproutbuilder guide on the tools page) websites, myspace pages and wherever else you can think of.
Key information you should be asking your fans to provide includes in order of decreasing importance:
You should also record the date and place you got people’s details, so you can be more personal when you contact them. Keep this list close to your heart. Nurture it and watch it grow, because it’s the most important possession you have on the road to fame and fortune.
Respect your mailing list. It represents real people, people that you’re asking to do things with you, and for you. Be regular with your mailouts and updates, so that people keep you in their minds, but don’t spam them. One contact per fortnight per method of communication is fine. More, and you’ll start to bug people.
Things you should be writing to your customers about are pretty obvious; let them know when you’re gigging near them (postcodes are useful here). Let them know when you’ve got new content on your website, blog, or myspace page, or you’re doing a magazine interview or radio session that they might be interested in. Definitely let them know when you’ve got something new that they might be interested in purchasing, be it music or merchandise.
Learn from your list. If you get loads of people signing up at a gig, or after a particular event, you’ve done something right. Do it more, and harder.