#1 extract from ‘Musicpreneur – The Creative Approach to Making Money in Music' - Nov 17, 2014
How to profile your “Super Fan”
A lack of critical knowledge prevents most talented musicians from making music their career. That’s according to in-demand creative consultant, author and occasional HitQuarters contributor Aaron Bethune, whose highly recommended new book Musicpreneur – The Creative Approach to Making Money in Music aims to help musicians find the tools, information, mindset and approach they need to get heard above the noise and build a successful career in music.
For the first in an exclusive four part extract series Bethune highlights the importance of fan profiling, and offers advice on working out who your fans are and how best to market your music to them.
Fans are the single most important element of a professional and satisfying career in music. Without fans you’re an amateur!
Two things I have noticed in successful musicians are that (1) their goals are clearly defined, and (2) their audiences are even more clearly defined. If you don’t know your fans, how are you going to market your music to them?
In this chapter I have put together links to free tools, with sugges¬tions of ways to use them for developing the profile of your “Super Fan.” And by Super Fan I mean the fan who is going to buy all your music and merch products, attend as many shows as he or she can, rave about you to friends, join your street team, call in to the radio to request your song, leave reviews, talk about you online, blog about you, contribute to crowdfunding campaigns, and so on.
Start by identifying at least five bands that are embodying the goals you have set for yourself. Don’t pick big household names, because they will have too many fans who are not exclusive to their band. Start by picking local acts you like who have a good following both off- and online.
If you don’t know who you sound like, start off by asking other people. If you find categorizing and comparing your music to that of others to be difficult, you can also use the tools in this chapter to help you search for similar bands.
A good way to begin to know the profile of your Super Fan is to con¬sider what you already know about your existing fans, find out more about the fans of artists who are similar to you, and then look for overlaps. More established artists will have a clearer understanding of their fan base and you can use the available tools to tap into that information. I suggest that you write out a profile of your Super Fan, using as much information as you can acquire.
My descriptions below may not provide sufficient information on their own, especially if you do not have prior knowledge of how the plat¬forms involved work. But I have listed links to all the sites mentioned so that you can educate yourself as well as start accounts and put them to use. The most important thing is to get your mind working on these kinds of concepts and ideas and how they can be used to serve a specific purpose. Of course, there are countless websites that can help you profile your fan, and I suggest you look further than just the ones listed in this segment. Note that this way of doing things may not be to every musician’s taste, but it’s always better to know what’s out there than not to know.
Here are some of those tools:
Next Big Sound
Next Big Sound conveniently takes stats from twenty-seven social platforms and gives you feedback about your fan base. This infor¬mation includes gender, location, preferred social platforms and even which songs and videos are most popular. One of my favourite features is being able to cross-check which events directly impacted the number of views of videos and plays of songs and got your fans buzzing about you online. If you create an account with Last.fm, you can see suggested “similar artists.” If you know of artists you sound like, you can get all the same information on them. Knowing more about their fan base and what type of events created spikes in fan engagement can be a great way to learn more about your potential Super Fan and about ways to create better fan engagement.
Use Music Metric to search for artists who sound similar to you and to get insight into which social sites generate their fans, where their downloads are happening geographically, and the buzz and overall online sentiment that surrounds them. This gives you a ton of leads as to where to focus your own fan-building attention.
When you research fan bases, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that fans of bands that are household names are usually not exclusive to those artists, because such fans can be more affected than others by passing trends and what’s “hot.” They are likely fans of songs, not artists. This is in great part because of how they discover and experi¬ence music. Because you want to build a fan base of Super Fans, I highly recommend focusing on artists who are less well known but who still have strong followings. Focusing on regional and national artists, rather than international names, will make it easier to engage their fans and build stronger relationships, as you will be able to tour in their markets. Touring and face-to-face interaction is still, by far, the most effective way to engage and develop Super Fans. Nothing can replace a live experience!
If you are unaware of less well-known artists you might sound like, you can start by searching Music Metric for well-known artists who sound similar to you. Once you are on their Music Metric profile page, Music Metric will give you a list of similar-sounding artists, some of whom will be less well known. You can then use Music Metric to find out more about them.
Essentially, Music Metric tells you about similar-sounding artists and their fans. Knowing which social media sites generate their fans and have the most fan interaction gives you insight into where to focus your own online attention. Study the fan profile of others and start building your own!
Hype Machine scans blogs across the internet and finds the music that is being featured. Once you find a blog that is featuring music by an artist who sounds similar to you, you have the option to see other tracks or artists those blogs play. This has two great functions:
(1) it helps you find artists who sound like you and tap into their fan bases on social networks (e.g., follow and interact with their fans on Twitter), and
(2) it gives you a great way of knowing which blogs to approach with your own music. Being featured on blogs is a huge source of exposure today. I have spoken to countless industry folk, including label representatives and music supervisors, who discover artists on blogs.
Obviously you can use Hype Machine to find similar-sounding artists to you and then use Music Metric to get more information on them. Just saying …
Followerwonk is an amazing analytical tool. It gives in-depth analysis and profiling of your followers and those you follow. Knowing the gender, age, location and so on of your followers gives you insight into your fan demographic. This in turn tells you how, where and when best to market to them. The best part is that not only can you use it with your own Twitter handle, but you can enter the Twitter han¬dles of similar artists and get the same in-depth stats on them.
From the perspective of profiling your fan, this has two benefits: (1) it gives you an idea of what type of followers/fans you have, and (2) it analyzes the same information of like-sounding bands’ followers to determine if those fans will match your fan profile. If they do, then start following and engaging with those fans online and soon enough they will be your fans too!
This computational knowledge engine is a great resource for all kinds of calculations. However, in the case of profiling your fan, I recommend typing “Facebook Profile” in the search box. This will provide a detailed analysis of your Facebook profile. You will find stats on people’s ages, genders, geographical location, who “likes” and “shares” your posts the most (this give you an insight into who your existing Super Fans are), which posts and photos generate the most interaction (this gives you an idea of what to post more of!) and so on. You might just find that your biggest fans are not the age, gender or nationality that you thought!
Also keep in mind that targeting friends of friends on Facebook can provide good fans in the same way that following the Twitter followers of like-sounding artists can. People are often friends because of simi¬larities in interests, pastimes, location and so forth.
This is a great resource for finding out such information as how far your Tweets travel, who the most influential Tweeters are and who retweets your posts the most. This will give you a good idea of who your Super Fans are and whose followers to follow. If you type in the Twitter handle of an artist who sounds similar to you, you can find out who their most active followers are so as to follow and engage with them. You can also type in a word or topic and identify the most influential people tweeting about it. This again can help you to find potential fans. The more information you can add to your Super Fan profile, the more you can find out about your top fans and what their common interests are.
Klout is an ingenious tool that puts a number or value on your overall social influence. It measures your online influence on a scale of 1 to 100. Having a number associated with your influence is a real motiv¬ator to improve your online presence if you have even the smallest competitive bone in your body! It is a great barometer of how influen¬tial your fans and their followers are.
In regards to profiling your Super Fan, the Klout profile descriptions can help you learn more about your fans as well as the community that they influence and those that influence them.
I suggest focusing your attention on the followers who are the most influential in their circles—those with the highest “Klout Score.” Influ¬ential on Klout does not mean having the most followers; it means having the most engaged followers.
Klout allows you to compare yourself to other Klout users. Comparing your Klout to that of another similar artist will give you insight into who they influence. The people they influence should be people you connect with. I recommend that, once you have used Klout to gain information about people’s influence and networks, you connect with them via Twitter. You can also use Klout to input the Twitter handles of those who follow you, to identify the most influential followers.
* For more on fan profiling as well as valuable information and advice on music licensing, radio promotion, branding, music PR, social media and much, much more then please visit www.musicpreneur.ca