Sunday, March 14, 2021

Do You Really Own Your Fanbase?

 Let me guess if you are an artist, you don’t have a homepage. Or your homepage is not updated! How can I tell? In the past few days, I have been adding independent artists to both my festival Future Echoes and our radio station Cashbox Radio. And I’m usually surprised when an artist really has a homepage. If it’s updated with the latest, I’m really impressed. Most do not this and it had made my work so hard.

You don’t need a homepage some artist tell you. We have our social media, that is where the fans are hanging out.

There is a problem with this. You actually own a website and you decide how it should be presented and also have the opportunity to collect the fans there. The ugly truth with social media is that you don’t own your followers, they are actually owned by Facebook, Tiktok, and other multi-national companies. They just let you have access to your own fans for a little bit. In reality, they actually let you pay to reach your own followers by paid messages. Think about it, a post in these networks only reaches around 10% of your fanbase, if you pay you can reach more.

“The big artists use it!” But they build their fanbase somewhere else. Let’s take Taylor Swift for example. Her career is over ten years old and people have invested millions of dollars in order for her to be exposed in real media and in concerts to get her fanbase. For her, the social media is already there, whatever new social media that is opening her fans will adopt her on that new social media. You can see this phenomena even with the dead artists that really are not on social media. You will find the Ramones on Facebook even though all of them are dead. That is because they have a real fanbase. The fans create this for them. If you already have a huge fanbase social media is working. Even here, Taylor Swift doesn’t reach as many either with her posts, but her superfans are following and they will spread the word for her. To be honest, she also has so much money she has a budget to pay Facebook to reach more.

To build a fanbase you can’t rely on these networks. They can go down or you can be kicked like Donald Trump. For those of you that remember MySpace or ICQ, artists spent money and time building up a fanbase in several of these networks and then they suddenly close down, and you lose everything. Or you post something and suddenly you are banned.

Even if you don’t believe that Tiktok will one day disappear, these networks really don’t provide what is needed. For example, how do I get your latest bio on Tiktok? Or even a good press picture. Sure, I can send you a message on Tiktok and hope that someone will answer my request. You know what? I don’t have time to wait for your pictures or bio, I just moved on to the next artist where I could easily find it. You just missed your opportunity.

What do you need to own your fanbase? When I spoke to experts, they really pointed off that hard value for companies like Facebook and Tiktok are phone numbers. When you have that you get in the face of the person. You can send a message and it will pop up on their screen. That is why all of these services have an App. It’s not for your convenience it’s to be able to send push notifications right up on your screen. And even if you are paying, they would never let you be able to send push notifications to your fans through their systems. That is exclusive for them to decide when and where you will get this.

If you have the phone number for the fan, that is another story. You can with a message reach them directly. Second best is of course e-mail. Good old newsletters are more efficient than any of the social media platforms, if you want to upgrade you just send a personal email. That won’t be lost, it will go straight into the fan mailbox and that will pop up on their mobile screen.

On the homepage, you can easily set up systems that allow you to get this info. You just get a form and people can get your newsletter and make the format, so you get the essentials like email, phone number, name and what country. That fanbase is owned by you. When you negotiate with a record label or a festival or gig, if you can tell them that you can reach this amount of people in their area you have something to negotiate with and offer. If you tell them that you have 100,000 followers on Facebook they know you won’t even reach the right targets. Yes, I get a lot of artists telling me that if they get booked on my festival, they will promote themselves on Facebook. Ok, so you are telling me you will let my festival be seen bu 10% of your followers and you are from the other side of the planet. Not a good deal.

Yes, you need a homepage. You don’t need to update it every day. Just keep it updated with the latest info that is important and check it when you do a release. What you need on a homepage is bio, press pictures, tour schedule, links to your music and forms for fans to start following you and a contact. Of course, you need to keep these fans happy by sending stuff, but hey you are already doing that work on social media but won’t really get anything out of it.

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