I recently read an interview with Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image. A few things stood out to me in this article. I thought I would share it as I think through what some of this could mean for us and our artists. I’ve covered most of it before, but I really like the way Joel explains his thoughts in this interview. I recommend you read it.
The interview talks a lot about the difference between connecting to your fans and engaging with your fans. I think we often lump them together, but Joel makes some great points about how we should consider them two separate entities. I know we’ve talked in previous posts about learning to connect and engage your fans, but I think it’s important to point out that it doesn’t matter how many fans you have and are “connecting to” if you aren’t properly engaging them. Numbers are pointless if you don’t know how to use them and get then to a place where they will respond to a call to action. Sure, your career can get to a point where it doesn’t really matter how much time you spend getting to know your fans and they will love you anyway, but how much more will they love you if you take the time to get to know them? If you have a hit song and don’t cater to your fans, you’ll lose them as quickly as you got them.
One of the biggest points made in this interview that I wanted to share is that “time” is the greatest currency we can vest in building our career online. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re starting out. It’s natural to want to see an immediate response and to give up as soon as we aren’t getting the results we want. Even with this blog, we would love for it to be an instant success, to be talked about as an industry leader in blogging. We know, however, that it takes time, energy and patience to build readership for our blog. We’re fortunate in the fact that we have artists and fans who are willing to support and spread the word, but having a successful blog won’t happen over night. That’s why we keep plugging away at posting every week; we know we’ll build our readers and responders with time and word of mouth.
I think a good example of someone who has poured their time and energy into building their site is John DiBiase of Jesus Freak Hideout. I’ve been friends with John since we were 15 years old when I met him because of our mutual love for Christian music. I remember when he first started Jesus Freak Hideout, and it was just a simple HTML website where John provided information on artists, wrote reviews of albums, and interviewed smaller artists. (I can remember one of the first designs-or maybe the first- with the wood panel background.) He was a teenager who started his site as a hobby. Over time, the website kept progressing and growing. John kept putting hours and hours of work each week into improving his site while he was going to school, and then while he maintained a full time job. As you can see now, Jesus Freak Hideout has become one of the most reputable resources for Christian music. If you’re looking for info on an artist, you can get almost anything you need on his site: honest reviews, interviews with Christian music’s biggest stars, an extensive artist database with info on each artist, the most up to date news, artist blogs and devotionals, streams of albums before they are released, contests, and much more. I know how much blood, sweat, and tears John put into building the site. Eventually, he was able to switch it over to his full time job, but it didn’t happen over night.
I posted this blog to be an encouragement to independent artists. I talk a lot about building your brand through relationships, and it takes an insane amount of time. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve been at it for a year and aren’t seeing huge results. Keep plugging away.
If you are looking for more good examples, here are some other artists and industry leaders who have taken the time to really invest in blogging and online presence:
Andrew Peterson and Friends (Rabbit Room)
High Valley (Even though their album isn’t out yet, they have high fan interaction stats on Facebook because they get on every few days and answer their comments.)