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The Rise of Direct-to-Fan Marketing in the Music Industry

The Rise of Direct-to-Fan Marketing in the Music Industry

‘Direct-to-Fan Marketing’ is something of a new buzzword that, while not globally embraced yet, is noticing an increased use as the music industry as a whole recognises the importance of the artist as a marketing channel instead of a threat to its existence. It forms a robust and effective business model used by many independent musicians and music labels around the world. Below, we discuss further the rise of direct-to-fan marketing in the music industry.

What is direct-to-fan marketing?

The direct-to-fan marketing approach, as its name may suggest, is a way for musicians to appeal and market directly to their fans, without the need for a third-party or middle-man.

These middle-men may be large music labels or social media channels, and direct-to-fan marketing cuts these out and leaves complete control in the hands of the artists themselves. Direct-to-fan marketing has come about due to the collapse of the traditional royalty payment model and many music industry experts see the direct-to-fan approach continuing to rise and rise.

direct to fan marketing

    Direct-to-fan marketing is about appealing to the people the matter; the fans!

    Why do we need direct-to-fan marketing?

    Surely the best way to appeal to fans is to set up a Facebook page, build up a few likes and then post out some statuses right? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that. In the age of social media and connectivity, it’s easy to assume that setting up a social channel is the most successful way of discovering and servicing your user base.

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    While it might be the easiest route, it is certainly not the most successful route. Social media giants such as Facebook act as information gatekeepers, maintaining complete control over each and every person that likes a Facebook page. This means the page owner still has to go through them and pay advertising fees, each and every time to interact with their fan base.

    This is, of course, despite the fact that these users have come to an artist’s page purely to hear from them directly, and most likely because the artist drove them to their page in the first place.

    It is entirely fair to say that the Facebooks and the Twitters of this world do not have an artist’s best interests at heart. Success and revenue becomes measured in the number of likes that each page has. At the end of the day, they are advertising businesses so they can’t be blamed, but it skewers the way in which artists can interact with their fans.

    How can artists market to their fan base effectively without knowing who they truly are? If artists were able to engage with their users on a much deeper level, in a direct-to-fan way, they would know instantly what songs they do or don’t like, what merchandise they want to see on sale and how likely they are to buy tour tickets.

    Without a direct-to-fan approach, music artists are simply producing tracks, t-shirts, and booking venues without truly knowing how well they will appeal to their fans. By cutting out the middle-man, doing away with the needless control by those who don’t have a deep interest in their business and being able to properly engage with their fans, artists can establish much closer relationships between themselves an their fan base.

    Appealing to your “super fans”

    Direct-to-fan marketing isn’t something that every single “social media fan” is going to be interested in. Some fans will be happy to add a few new tracks from their favourite artists to their playlists on Spotify, and simply engage with them by listening to the new tracks on the way to work.

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    Other fans, super fans as they are often called, want to go much further than this. They want the new merchandise, the exclusive listens to new tracks, the tickets to the tour and even the chance to meet their favourite artists. These are the people that the direct-to-fan marketing business model was made for and the fans that spend money on merchandise, albums and tickets.

    A great example of a direct-to-fan marketing approach in the games industry that has had huge success is with the popular mobile game app Candy Crush, developed by King Digital Entertainment PLC. In the fourth quarter of 2014, Candy Crush had over 356 million unique monthly users, and yet only 8.3 million made any in-app purchases. And yet, they still pulled $263.8 million in from these 8.3 million users.

    How? By seeing who was making in-app purchases, they began to target these users with more deals and offers, enticing them in even further, resulting in the huge revenues for the fourth quarter of 2014.

    Now, this approach may seem a little shadier, having users spend more money simply by dangling deals in front of them. Direct-to-fan marketing in the music industry doesn’t have this ‘shady’ approach. It’s about music artists essentially having conversations with their super fans; finding out what merchandise and new music they want. Would they really buy a new t-shirt? If not, then artists can save on various costs as well as provide the fan what they really want.

    But it goes so much further than this. It’s not just about artists finding out what their fans like and selling to them; it’s about connecting with their super fans. Giving them exclusive access to what happens behind the scenes, giving fans exclusive new tracks or allowing them to meet the artist back stage. It’s a way for music artists to show their fan base that they care about them just as much as the fan cares about the artist and their music.

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    direct to fan marketing

      Direct-to-fan marketing is about getting music artists and fans closer together

      What can newer apps like GigRev and Bkstg do to solve the issue?

      There are new platforms and apps being designed such as GigRev, and Bkstg with direct-to-fan marketing in mind. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all brilliant platforms that go a long way in getting music artists and fans together. But they still create a wall between the two parties, with, as always, money being the issue. Even with Spotify, the money issue is far from solved, with music labels keeping roughly 70% of what an artist makes from streaming platforms. However, this is a different problem entirely.

      Apps such as GigRev have been created as private social platforms that bring artists and fans together. These platforms need to be given to the artists, and then the real musical magic can unfold! These platforms need not to sit on artists’ data, acting as gatekeepers and all-controlling slave drivers. Music artists need complete control over who they engage with and how they do it, therefore taking direct-to-fan marketing to a whole new level.

      Music artists are a lot more than just artists, they are businesses, having to adapt to new technologies and new fan desires weekly, and how can a business operate without knowing what its customers want? These new social platforms operate by knowing what music artists want, and they give artists a chance to connect with fans in a way that simply hasn’t been offered before.

      Many companies try and tackle the problem from a top-down approach by tackling the music labels first, but this isn’t going to solve anything. It needs to be done bottom-up, helping the ones who actually make the music and the ones who actually buy it; the music artists and their fans.

      Are there any drawbacks to direct-to-fan marketing?

      It will, of course, be a more time-consuming process by engaging with users more directly rather than leaving it in the hands of a third party. But this isn’t a drawback, simply another process that must be incorporated into a music artist’s business plan.

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      It’s easy to pay a marketing company to handle things for you, but they don’t know your brand like you do. You could let Spotify handle your promotions, but can they use the right language and approach that you would use? Probably not. The best and most successful companies are those that truly connect and engage with their user base because, let’s face it, who else are you selling to?

      How direct-to-fan marketing is changing the world

      An old, and now somewhat outdated notion, is that “if you build it, they will come”. Although this is a nice concept, things just don’t really work like that anymore. We live in a very rushed, “I want it now” culture, what with the ability of having everything at our fingertips, and you can’t rely on people sourcing you out in the way that they used to.

      The things that get talked about the most are the most successful advertising campaigns or the most viral tweets; things that have properly engaged with those that have viewed them. Direct-to-fan marketing is working in the same way in the music industry. By appealing to your user base, creating a unique group of super fans and, ultimately, selling content that has value, direct-to-fan marketing is sure to revolutionise the music industry in a way no other form of marketing has managed.

      Image credit: Nainoa Shizuru and CONTENTKRAFT

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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      Ryan Kh

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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