They come to your shows, they buy your albums, and they wear your t-shirts. They are your fans, and you love them as much as you need them. Show how can you show them that you appreciate their support and dedication? Here are ten ways!
1. Give Out Free Music
Everybody loves free music, and your fans would love a free MP3 or two that they can download from your website. You may even make brand new singles available before your CD release to your dedicated fans who register on your site. This is a great way to show appreciation and find out what the interest is in your upcoming album. If you don’t have a website yet, consider handing out CD’s or even mini-CD’s with a couple songs on them at your shows or other venues. Music is what it’s all about, after all.
2. Make a Badass Website
Give your fans a home on the internet to come and find out everything they need to know about you and your music. Your website can be interactive, informative, and fun. Include links to your blog, music and video from your shows, a place to buy your CD’s and merchandise, a press kit, band member profiles, and pictures. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune—there are lots of ways to get a website going up and running even if you’re not a web developer—but the more you are able to put in to your site, the more benefit you (and your fans) will see from it.
3. Online Forums for Interaction
There are message boards for every possible subject you can think of—from dirt bike racing to religion to Chinese cooking. These forums allow people with a common interest to meet up online and “hang out” together online to discuss their favorite subject as well as other topics of interest. These forums take on a real community feeling and can be a great asset, keeping your fans entertained. You’ll also be able to read conversations between fans and find out what they like—or don’t like—about your music. Most people feel much more confident posting their opinions anonymously on a message board and you’ll have a chance to read some really honest feedback.
4. Respond to Fans Who Write and Email
Unless you’re a platinum selling artist, you probably don’t have millions of fans. This gives you the opportunity to really connect with the fans you do have, especially the ones who take the time to send you an email or post on your MySpace page or blog. Set aside an hour or two each week to respond to your people who contact you online. They will be thrilled to have a personal response from you—even if it is just a quick one line message like “Thanks for your support!”
5. Free T-shirts
The power of a free t-shirt is the stuff of legends. It is incredible what people will do for a free shirt, and giving them out to your fans is a great way to show them how much you appreciate their loyalty. Not only will they enjoy having a new addition to their wardrobe, but if it looks great they will wear it everywhere and advertise your band for you. It’s really a win/win situation. Put as much effort as you can in to making it cool—something people will want to put on and wear around in public.
6. Offer to Play an Event for Free
Consider having a contest and offering to play a party for free for the winners. Who wouldn’t love to have a live band at their next block party or birthday? A contest is a great way to generate interest in both your band and your website—and playing a personal show for a loyal fan is just about the ultimate prize for someone who loves your music. You can also play a local charity event or fundraiser as a way to contribute toward the success of an organization you care about. You’ll have a place on all their marketing and advertising which is a great way to get your name out in public eye, too.
7. Give Out Free Passes to the Show
For every show you play, keep a pocket full of free passes and make sure you hand them out liberally. Give some to DJs to give out to their listeners, and offer some in a random drawing on your website. Free passes give your fans extra incentive to show up at your performances, and you may even gain a few new fans, too. If you don’t have a cover at your show, offer a special table that is reserved for your guests or consider planning a ‘dinner with the band’ promotion.
8. Do Interviews
Taking an hour out of your week to sit down with a loyal blogger or reporter can show your appreciation for the people who promote you for free. Giving a blogger the ‘inside scoop’ on your next CD or show is a great way to help them help you—they will be able to offer information that no one else has, and you will get plenty of publicity.
9. Hang Out After the Show
Spend time after the show meeting the people who have come to watch you. There’s no need to make it a formal event; just grab your beer and walk around. A simple, “Thanks for coming to see the show” will suffice and you never know who you will meet. This is a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with your fans and make your show memorable—something they will go to work and tell all their friends about the next day.
10. Say Thank You
It’s simple, but effective. Say “Thank You”. When you are finished playing, when someone emails you, when someone writes a blog post about you, and when someone volunteers to hand out flyers. Having the attitude that you are grateful at all times is the key to showing genuine appreciation to your fans.