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Lindsay Brandt is the Director of Digital Media at Mick Management, home to FB-ers John Mayer and Walk the Moon, along with a slew of other great artists. Lindsay was awesome enough to answer a few questions about managing and engaging fan bases.

We talk a lot on the blog about the importance of identifying and rewarding super fans. Why does this specific fan segment matter so much?

I think one of the most important things you can do as an artist is let fans know that you hear them.  They need to know that you feel their investment in your career, so you want to do everything you can to acknowledge them.  One of my favorite parts of my job is finding ways to reward and mostly surprise and excite the super fans, like taking the 25 most supportive fans in a market and sending them an e-mail to invite them backstage for a meet & greet the day of the show. That type of experience is priceless for a fan and keeps them dedicated because they know they’re just as important to us as the artist is to them.

How does your fan engagement strategy differ from someone like John Mayer to a newer developing band like Walk the Moon? 

 


This question is really interesting because I think no matter what, you take the same approach with your fans regardless of the level they are in their career.  You want your fans to feel special.  To feel individual.  You just have to attempt to reach that goal in different ways.

For someone like John Mayer, you’re dealing with a fan base that is tiered basically over a period of a decade.  Sometimes you want to do something special for the fans that have been involved since day one – the ones that have been career supporters.  Other times, you want to give newer fans (who’ve maybe never sat in the front row) a chance to get close as well.  It’s a balancing act to make sure that just because someone has been a fan since album one, and this other person has been a fan since album 3, it doesn’t mean one should be treated better than the other.  With JM it’s about going back to the days when he played clubs and trying to find the intimate moments and re-create them. It’s about breaking things down and getting really honest online. Find ways to communicate with your fans genuinely, and almost in a code where anyone on the outside wouldn’t understand.  For JM, we’re constantly upgrading fans tickets at venues and making sure we can bring them into every TV taping and radio promo show we’re allowed.  It’s tweeting the setlists, but also finding a voice to let them know you totally understand why the moment in “3×5″ in Austin last night was unforgettable, because John improvised an outro that he hasn’t done since 2002.  I think when you let fans know you’re on the same level as them they can connect with you more easily.  At the end of the day, we’re fans too.

For someone like Walk The Moon, they’re at the stage of their career where they have the time to personally respond to e-mails and questions from fans.  They come out after every set and shake every single person’s hand and take photos.  I think if you can do that as much as possible, you keep those fans for life.  The most important thing you can do at the beginning of your career is go out and find out who is supporting your music and thank them.

How do you balance “real-life” engagement with digital incentives? Does one have more value than the other or are they completely different?

I honestly believe that nothing beats a “real-life” moment.  I remember the first time I went to a show and made eye contact with the lead singer of one of my favorite bands. He pointed at me and we sang the lyrics of the 2nd verse together before I got a high five.  That was 10 years ago and I still remember every moment of it. Nothing beats that.  It was totally spontaneous, in-the-moment, and one of a kind.

I think digital incentives can be really exciting as well if you tackle them the right way.  Use the internet for what it is: an instant way to send and receive information.  Any artist can immediately deliver music to their fans, so why not reward your most supportive with an early listen to your new album?   Why not give them early access to ticket sales (if you can)? Tweet back to fans occasionally and make them feel heard.  I find the best thing to do though, is use the internet and those “digital” incentives to create real life moments. Use your mobile app to send instant push notifications to fans in line outside the venue.  Say, “thanks for showing up early.  We have a surprise for you!” and then come outside and say hello or invite them in for soundcheck.  That kind of stuff always ends up being amazing.

Want more tips on managing your fan list? Download our eBook, 3 Keys to Fan List Success for Musicians.


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