Music Blogs

Bands: How to increase your fan base (part 2).

  • By Trev@circlestudios
  • 23 August 2013

This week is our music industry insider, Trev from Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham, explains how even chuggers can help build your fan base.

So last week I talked about the importance of engaging with your target audience rather than just broadcasting to them.  Now you might have concluded in the intervening week that this is just too hard to do because the music industry is just so different from other industries.  Today I want to change your perception about this. 
You see, chances are, all you want people to do is to hit 'like' on your twatbook page or even to take a quick listen to your music.  Because you hope they might like what they see or hear and ultimately become a fan that will buy your music and/or merch  Or better still they'll become an advocate that will champion you/your music among their own network.  Now these first steps cost nothing to your target and can take just seconds.  So imagined for a second how much harder it might be if you wanted more from your target.  Much more. You not only wanted their time but you wanted their money too.  And the more of it the merrier.  And they'd get nothing whatsoever in return.  
I saw people doing exactly this in vivid action this week while I was walking through Picadilly Circus looking for a coffee shop.  A band of 'chuggers' (charity-muggers) were out in force. They were doing their best to extract the hard earned from the pockets of the rat-racers striding past them and the tourists who were oblivious to their presence.  Seeing their various techniques for trying to engage with people was a lesson in human psychology. 
Arranged along the street each of them tried a different technique.  The first one I came across said "hi, how are you doing today". They weren't asking anything from me except simple human interaction. It was going to cost me nothing so it was an easy give.  Except their purple t-shirt gave away the fact that they actually did want something from me. And I'm a jealous mistress when it comes to my own time and money.  I said "hi", smiled, and kept to my pace.  
The second one was cleverer. "Nice t-shirt" he said. "Where did you get it" that one threw me. My pace slowed a little as I hesitated. I tried to think about where I had got it and almost stopped to talk about it.  In a moment of clarity I realised it was a cheeky ploy to engage me. That once I stopped they would have time to lay the guilt trip on me and I'd be reaching into my pocket.  I strode on.
The final one was cleverest of all. "You don't know where I could find a coffee shop with a toilet do you" said the pretty blonde as she hopped from one foot to the other. Now I  don't know whether she had spotted the desperate caffeine deprived glint in my eye or had just hit lucky, but she had hit on my weak point.  I was interested in finding a coffee shop myself.  "No, but do you know where there's one without a toilet" I asked. "What brand is your preference she said?" "Independent would be great but failing that, Starbucks would be fine" I said...
Damn, she had me.  I had stopped. We were having a conversation. Which then of course turned to the starving children/whale stocks in Antartica/diseased trees in Ruritania.  Beaten, I put my money in her box and headed to the Starbucks she had directed me to.  Only I didn't even feel that bad about it.  While she had achieved her aim, I'd also achieved mine. I was about to get my caffeine fix in advance of my meeting at a well known media company.
So let's dissect that interaction. Our third purple clad chugger had managed to engage me on a level I wanted to be engaged on.  It may have been just a lucky shot but, as a team, I think they were playing more than a numbers game.  (You know, if you throw enough shit at a wall some of it is bound to stick?) But as there are far more punters in Picadilly Circus than record company execs with a real cheque book that's a tricky one in the music industry context in any case. And going back to an earlier point I made, playing that game in this industry would be risky indeed.  Otherwise, you've just found the 999th way to associate your brand with spam. 
But actually, I think it was more than that. I think they'd thought out their pitches pretty carefully.  I almost wish I'd walked past the third just to find out what the fourth one would say! But the key lesson from our purple chuggers that's relevant to you guys was that what they were trying to do was to engage with people on the level that those people wanted to be engaged! They were trying to find the hook that led them into a conversation so that they could reduce their odds from just throwing shit at a wall and hoping some might stick to a much more focused targeting system.  You need to do the same.  
It follows that, to have any chance of engaging potential fans at a level they want to be engaged, you need to 1. put yourself in your target's mind and 2. Not broadcast, but engage,  be social.  These guys put it more eloquently that I ever could:
So, let's try and get you into the right mindset for this.  Climb in their shoes for a second. Comfortable?  Right, now what *might lead you to want to follow that damn link if you were them?  Let me know what you think in the box below.
The author of Machiavelli's Guide, Trev, is a record producer and Chief Engineer at one of the UK's top studios, Circle Recording Studios in Birmingham.  Check it out at www.circlestudios.co.uk. He has worked with clients from major and independent record labels across a range of genres from metal to hip hop.  This week he has mainly been messing about with Hammond organs and Rhodes pianos. Go follow @circlestudios on twitter if you like the kind of inane rambling you get to read here. Alternatively, look up Circle Recording Studios Birmingham on Facebook.