Understanding Your Circles of Fans And How to Build A Real “Street Team”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’ve become a “super-fan” of many bands that I listen to. There are so many that I consistently talk about to friends and co-workers; whether I burn a CD for a friend, share a link, dedicate a song on Facebook, or drag a friend to a show, I am a very influential in my circle when it comes to introducing new people to music.
They are probably 3-4 other people in my circle that are on my level of music devotion – we pretty much run the show when it comes to what everyone else listens to.
So how did we become so music obsessive, and why do we share this with our friends?
After some observation and deep thinking, I began to figure out how we become fans of a band and how we spread the word about them, and even further how to break it down to a concept that other bands can use to spread the word about their music.
It becomes apparent to me each and every day that many artists don’t understand much about the value of aquiring fans. They don’t understand the little details about them. And it’s these little details that can be the difference between a successful act and one that still plays gigs at the local pub no one could give a shit about.
I feel like this is the thought process of most musicians:
Obtain lots of fans. Get them to buy our stuff and attend our shows. Keep doing this until we’re millionares, etc.
And they look at their circle of fans like this:
As the band gets more and more fans, they’re still worried about just making it as big as possible. They’ll start thinking about how they need to advertise themselves in order to reach more people. They’ll buy ads in magazines in local papers or zines, use some shady MySpace friend adder to get more fans, and do a rain dance to the music gods that their circle continues to grow.
What they fail to realize is that, if they were to focus on the super fans they have, they won’t need to spend a dime on advertising – the super fans will do it for them!
It’s not about trying to get a huge circle of fans through advertising or press and whatnot. It’s about catering to your small circle of super fans and interacting with them on a regular basis so that they help you grow your circle.
You can’t buy a street team. Street teams are record-label creations that used the super fans to sell records. While they do provide some level of interaction, they can come off as forced. Let your street team evolve naturally and it will do wonders for your band!
So how does someone go from being a casual fan to one who becomes a super fan?
Here is a timetable of how I find many people fall in love with an act, and one that you should use to build your own circle of super fans.
1. Fan sees you live at a show, probably because another super fan brought them there.
2. Whether they like or not, you have an opportunity to get them coming back for more – they sign up to your email list, buy a CD or some merch, or maybe just note your name/MySpace/website. It’s up to you to not only perform well, create an experience they’ll never forget, and be the best you can be, but you have to at least point out a way to bring the experience home with the fan. Give away free stickers or poster that have your website address on them.
3. So hopefully your new fan goes home and checks you out on the web. Here is where, depending on how well your digital footprint is, a fan can go from a casual fan to one of super-status.
- If they didn’t catch your website, maybe they Google your name. Is your website optimized properly so that you rank for it?
- Let’s say they do come to your site – is there something they can take away from the experience of navigating your site?
- Can they hear the same music they heard at the show?
- Is there a place they can download a song or purchase an album?
- Are there videos of the band, both performing or behind the scenes?
- Does the new fan have the ability to connect to you and share your music to their friends through various social networks?
- Is there content on your site OTHER than your music that can create an emotional bond with them? Is there something that makes them feel they are apart of something?
This continued interaction, through your digital footprint, is key in turning your new fans into SUPER FANS!
First is the initial interaction at the live show, which hopefully turns them to the web afterwards, which, if done right will keep the fan in touch with you and your “events”: shows, releases, new merchandise, etc. They’ll be in the loop forever.
It also gives them the opportunity to communicate with you, to continue the interaction outside of the live show.
And when they go to another show, it’ll be a bigger deal – at this point they are on their way to becoming a super-fan, if they already are not. Pretty soon they’ll be sharing their pics from the show on Facebook, inviting their friends to shows, slapping a sticker on their laptop, and eventually joining the fanclub.
Some of these people might even help you put up posters, manage your MySpace, or write a post about you on their blog.
Others might create a cool video set to one of your songs on Youtube, which could go viral and help you out in a big way.
It’s these super-fans that will get the word out about your music that will someday get you the big circle of fans you wanted from the beginning!
Focus on your super-fans – create music that they like, put on a kick ass live show, and make them feel like they are part of something special. Give them the tools they need to share your music with others. Nurture these fans, and they will become your street team, without you having to ask them directly to do so. They’ll do it because they love you and love spreading the word.