Following up on a great article from last year, let's talk about some direct ways to improve your Fan Velocity.
-Make your artistic world fascinating.
Why did you create this song What was the creative process like? How did you come across this idea? What's the story behind your music?
People are hungry for stories that connect, amuse, or repulse. We live through stories. If a fan asks you "Tell me about your recent album." and all you have to say is 'It was kinda hard, but fun." you just lost an opportunity to get a fan more invested in your music. Why not explain a great story like "Well, the sound library the studio had was missing disks of sound effects, so we duct taped a mic to our legs and ran around a park at midnight screaming like a madman."
Cool story = people tell that cool story = more fans.
-Make it easy for fans to share your music.
Music sharing is inevitable. In five seconds a fan can find your music on The Pirate Bay and in five minutes they can have the album on their iPod. Customers have become to expect being able to hear music before they buy it, and effortlessly share music with friends. If your band freaks out Metallica-style over music sharing, all you'll do is turn off fans from your music.
Accept that your music will be shared. This is a good thing.
Music has always been about people sharing an experience. When we find music that affects us on an emotional level, we want to share that emotion with the people that we care about. Anyone who has to ride in a car with me will be exposed to a new band, like it or not. I'm built that way, haha.
Album sales won't provide the income stream they have in decades past. Most of your income now will come from other sources such as shows, merch, and licensing. As such, when a fan shares your music you're not losing much income. What you are getting, however, is a word of mouth recommendation for your music.
This is a good thing. You can't have super fans willing to shell out $20 for a limited edition vinyl of your album without them hearing and falling in love with your music first.
While you don't have to go as far as to upload all your music to bittorrent, making your music and art share-able will allow you to maximize the spread of your music. Upload a few tracks to youtube so anyone who hears about you from a friend or article can immediately give you a listen before your name is forgotten. Make sure fans can share/download your promo pics instead of putting them in a flash viewer that prevents this.
-Help fans connect with similar artists.
It's not a mistake that Pandora, 70000 tons of metal, and Bonnaroo are famous. Communities form for those with like interests. Artists that are similar to your style are allies not competition. Share great music you discover with your fans and play shows with relevant acts. Not only will joining up with a community help build relationships with your current fans for introducing them to other cool stuff, you'll gain many additional fans from the other bands' fanbase who will likely dig your work.
-Manage public relations.
Be kind to your fans. If a show gets cancelled, you'll want to give refunds or tickets to your next show. Yes, it's painful to have to eat a big monetary loss when you don't "have" to, but the way you treat your fans is how they're going to remember you and, more importantly, how they're going to color their impressions of your music.
One of my favorite examplesof great PR is from one of my personal favorite hip hop artists, P.O.S. I was stuck in a huge line outside of a show that formed because the venue's computer was broken, so every check-in was manual, regardless of whether you already had a ticket or not. Even worse, the venue insisted on running the show at normal time, so half of the audience was outside waiting when the opening act went on.
So Stef (P.O.S.) walked out of the venue and started chatting with the people in the line. Nothing fancy, just saying hi and talking about music to pass the time while things got under control. He absolutely didn't have to do this, as many musicians hide in the green room until the show, but it was classy how he was talking with the check in guy trying to see how he could help his fans get in faster.
We remember little interactions like that.
That's how lifetime fans are born.