What is a “super fan?”
A super fan is like your disciple. They spread the good news about you to anyone and everyone. They are the ones that come to all your concerts in their area, will sometimes drive far for one, and they are the ones hanging out to meet you after your show. They are first in line to buy your music, and they’ll buy a lot of your other merch too. A majority of them know each other and connect at shows and online. And chances are, you probably know most of them by name, especially if you’re an indie artist.
So why are they so important? There was an article that came out in 2008 called 1,000 True Fans. This article talks about why these super fans are so crucial to your career. They argue if you have 1,000 true fans who each spend $100 on you a year, that will give you $100,000 a year, which is enough for an artist to live on comfortably. These “True Fans” aren’t the casual fans you meet at shows, these are people I described above. They go out and spread the word about your music and create other fans. They are your best ally, and one of your greatest marketing tools.
Ok… you get it. You need fans, and you need super fans, but how do you create them? The key word is relationship. People like to feel appreciated, and they like their opinions and support matter. They want to be your friend and get to know you so get to know them: their names, their backgrounds, their likes and dislikes… focus on being their friend. When they have a connection with you, it will make them love your music even more, and they won’t quickly jump ship when the next act comes along.
Think of your very first concert (or the very first concert you were excited about). I bet you can remember it pretty vividly… the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions. Then think about how excited you were about the show, and how happy it would have made you to meet the artist, get an autograph, and take a picture with them. Then think about how chances are, there is someone out there who thinks the same thing about you. It’s kind of humbling, isn’t it?
The best way to start creating super fans is going that extra mile to know them. Here are a few pointers to start creating your own super fans.
- Connect. When you talk to a fan that seems really excited to talk to you, tell them to find you online at Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, or your website. Tell them to keep in touch.
- Communicate. If someone writes to you either via email or a social network… RESPOND. The worst thing you could do is tell someone to contact you and then ignore it. As a rule of thumb, if they take the time write you, they want a response. Even if it’s a simple comment like “I really like your music.” It takes a few seconds to just write back “Thank you! What’s your favorite song?” Knowing that you’ve actually read and processed their emails/comments goes a long way.
- Keep your fans up to date. Update your twitters and statuses regularly. Let them know what’s going on with you and your music.
- Make it a little personal. When I say you should be updating, I’m not just talking about updates involving your music, but also put a little bit of your heart into it. Is there a social issue that you’re passionate about? Do you care about missions? What are you learning at church? Did someone say something that got you thinking? Let your fans know you a little more personally. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to help think of tweets:
- What are you doing? (what are you working on? what’s going on in your career or life?)
- Who are you? (family, upbringing, past)
- What do I stand for? (social issues, passions)
I’ll step out of my label role for a minute and use myself an example. I would call myself a super fan of the band Jimmy Eat World. They’ve been my favorite band for about 10 years now. I buy all of their albums the first day they release, I own all of their EPs, I have a shirt or two, bought a window sticker for my car, and I drove 8 hours with 5 of my friends to see the closest show in their special Clarity x10 Tour last year. I follow them on Twitter, retweet news about albums, and I subscribe to their news list. I may have never met them (or even tried), but I still consider myself a die-hard Jimmy fan. And if they tried to create a relationship with me, I would still be really excited.
Fan/Artist relationships are some of the most crucial that you can have when you’re trying to build up your career. If you know how to motivate your listeners, you will create die-hard super fans who will sell your brand to all of their friends.
Disclaimer: There is a difference between super fans and stalkers. If the person is looking up your address or phone number, showing up random places you go, and telling you God told them you were going to get married, you probably want to stay away from those people.