Make pre-releases count

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More and more we’re seeing pre-release orders out in the wild, packaged in ways to encourage customers and fans to support their favorite musicians.  If it’s good enough for Jay-Z, it’s worth a try.

BandPage Experiences is the perfect platform to add and track pre-release options to your fans and their friends.

Here are a few tips in lining them up:

Offer a variety of pre-release packages
From digital downloads to limited-edition posters, give your fans a mix of packages to choose from at a variety of price points.

Get crafty
Try hand lettering your posters, including signed swag or creating cool one off items to make the packages extra special and worth the early buy in.

Partner up
Obviously not everyone can swing a multi-national corporation to support your release, but maybe a local friendly merchant will throw in your favorite snack or a cool accessory.

Get the word out
Set up a simple outline to post across social networks and your mailing list, and be sure to mention pre-orders in interviews.

Spread the fan love
Encourage your fans to spread the word too – sharing images or reviews of your newest release. Like, re-share and comment on their posts. Virtual high fives everywhere!

What are we missing? We know there’s some major knowledge out there on making the most of pre-releases. Let us know in comments!

YouTube Playbook Guide (The Cliffs Notes)

Last week YouTube was nice enough to release a 40 page “creators guide” for musicians advising them on the best ways to leverage YouTube to build a loyal and engaged fan base.  In case you don’t have the time or energy to dig through all 40 pages we were kind enough to create our own bulleted list of what we considered to be some key takeaways.  For those of you who want to dig a little deeper, you can check out the rest of the guide here.  Enjoy!

Optimize for Better Discovery

1. Get Your Metadata Working for You:  First things first, don’t forget to lead with the song title, artist name [your name] and album title in the title of your video.  And be sure to include heavily searched terms as well.  If you have a famous guests on the song, be sure to include their name.  If you cover a song, be sure to include the name of the artist whose song you covered.  Remember, most people find music channels through search results, so optimizing your videos for discovery is key.

2. Tag Tag Tag: Tag as many terms that are relevant to your video as you can.  Use both general and specific key words.

3. Use An Intriguing Thumbnail:  Be sure to choose a thumbnail that is compelling.  You want people to want to know what is happening in your video so choose something that invites curiosity.

4. Descriptive Description: Take advantage of the real estate under video description to include calls to action like “click to buy here” or “view new video here.”  Be sure to include new album release date, up coming concert dates, links to socials, digital store, etc.

5. Take Advantage of Annotations: Annotations have a few important uses.  First, you can add annotations to your older videos to direct fans to your newest video.  Or you can add an annotation to a new video encouraging fans to check out your other videos so they can get to know you as an artists better.  On top of that, you can use annotations to promote your licensed merchandize directly in your videos.  Just don’t forget to leverage your top performing videos!

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6. Choose a Layout that Meets Your Needs: A single channel layout makes it easy for you to target announcements to specific groups of fans and encourage fans to help shape your content.   A single channel layout will include all of your curated content, live performances and official videos on a single channel.  A multi-channel layout allows you to separate your content into different channels.  You can upload official music videos onto your main channel and your favorite music, live performances, funny videos, etc to a different one.  This makes it easy for your fans to find exactly what they are looking for.

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Releasing an Album or Song

7. Not One but TWO Videos:  If you are going to use YouTube to release a new song, they highly recommend you create both a lyric and an official music video.  Lyric videos are easier to make and will help build buzz for when you do drop your official music video.  Lyric videos also help your fans connect with your music by getting them more acquainted with your message and words.  For many people, lyrics can make or break a song.

8. Leverage the Community: Get your fans to particpate in this intimate process with you.  Ask them for their feedback and thoughts on your song. Enourage them to comment, share and subscribe to your channel.  You can even ask them to create re-mixes or covers of your song and share them with you.

9. Use Data: Be sure to pay close attention to the regions that are driving the most traffic to your channel.  Examine your traffic sources.  Are there any specific blogs or sites that are driving a significant amount of traffic?   Use this data to help determine where to hold live events, interviews, reach out to the local press, etc.

Engage With Your Fans

10. Exclusive Perks: A great way to keep your fans engaged is to offer them exclusive perks.  Give your fans and subscribers first crack at new tracks, behind-the-scenes video clips or even concert tickets.  Leverage  annotations and/or your video descriptions to help promote them.

11. Q&A: YouTube recommends dedicating one day a month to holding a live Q&A or Google Hangout session with your fans.   Take questions, talk about new projects you’re working on and just hang out.   Your fans will appreciate the opportunity to spend quality time with you and you’ll continue to gain new YouTube followers in the process.  A win-win.

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Best Practices: Building a BandPage Experience

Hey Musicians,

For the past few weeks we’ve been carefully studying the various Experiences that have made their way onto our new Marketplace platform in hopes of educating you on what it takes to create a successful “offers” campaign.  We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with many of the great musicians who are currently using our Marketplace and have helped many of them develop, refine and successfully sell their offers.  We learned a TON in the process and want to share that knowledge with you.

In our earlier blog posts, we covered the different ways you can promote your Experiences to your fans via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Remember, nothing is more effective than you, the artists encouraging your fans to check out new opportunities to engage with you.  It has proven to be the most useful way to reach your fans that we have seen thus far.

However, for this blog post we’ll start at the beginning and cover some of the best practices for developing and setting up an Experience once you have made the decision to participate in this Brave New World of fan engagement.  Let’s get started!

Where to Start

The first step in creating your Experiences, is deciding on what your goals are.  Are you trying to maximize revenue or are you more focused on creating cool new ways to engage with your biggest fans?  Deciding on your ultimate goal will help inform the choices you make for each of the offer variables below.

  • What to Offer
  • Pricing Your Offer
  • Quantity
  • Title
  • Description
  • Expiration Date
  • Video / Photo

What to Offer

Offerings can be broken down into 3 main types: Personalized merchandise, fan participation, and personal experiences.

  • Personalized Merchandise/Momentos: These are often manufactured goods that you can easily add exclusive value to.  Examples include signed vinyl, handwritten lyric sheets, a signed print from a show, signed drumheads, etc.   What’s great about items like these are they already have real-world value and adding an exclusive twist to them instantly makes them even more valuable to your fans.  Be sure not to confuse this with your standard merch.  You should only choose items that are limited in quantity and that you have personalized yourself.  These types of offers can also include hand-made items that you have put your own personal touch on.  We’ve seen artists successfully sell hand painted pictures/drawings to fans.  Other artists have successfully sold mix-tapes of their favorite songs or songs that have inspired them over the years.  Consider doing an acoustic cover of a fan’s choice.  Maybe a full EP.  Get creative.  Think of your favorite artists.  What cool stuff could they offer that would intrigue you?
  • Fan Participation:  These are super exclusive experience-based offers that let your fans be a part of your creative process.  Shooting a new video?  Let a fan be an extra.  Need some handclaps for a track your working on?  Give your biggest fans a crack at it.  If you’re feeling brave, you might even let a fan design your next album cover.  One artist created totally unique songs using sounds, samples and concepts sent to them by the purchasing fan.  Pretty amazing.  If a fan does participate in a project of yours, consider including their name in the credits or thank you notes as a further token of your appreciation.
  • Personal Experiences: These are also experience-based offers that allows your fans connect with you on a more personal and intimate level.  These types of offers can include a one-on-one skype session, a meet and greet before a show or a visit to the recording studio to sit in on the recording of your next album.  We’ve seen a number of talented artists offer their fans guitar or piano lessons.  We even had one artist completely sell through all of her theremin lessons.  There are handful of other artists who have successfully sold private concerts that are to be held in a fan’s living room.  Fans are always looking for unique and exclusive ways to engage with their favorite artists and creating a once in a lifetime experience is worth a premium price.

Pricing

In general, pricing will be a learning process for each musician. When first starting out, we recommend limiting the quantity of offers and pricing them to sell.  You can always add additional ones later.  It’s important to engage your fans right off the bat with an intriguing offer that won’t break the bank.  This will help generate buzz among your fanbase.  We saw a number of bands completely sell out of their offers within hours of promoting them to their socials who ended up having to add more items due to overwhelming fan demand.  That’s the kind of position you want to be in.  Remember, the higher the price the more promotion you’ll need to do in order to reach those few “Superfans” who’ll be willing to and have the means to pay a high price.

A few things to keep in mind when pricing your offer.

  1. First off, consider the costs associated with your offer.  Are there costs associated with transportation, shipping, merchandise, the venue, etc?  Your time is obviously worth something to you so don’t forget to take that into consideration.
  2. Secondly, you want to make sure you are offering something of value.  If you are selling a manufactured good like a signed CD or poster, you’re going to want to keep the price close to it’s real world cost (depending on how popular you are.)  You can always add additional value to a manufactured good by adding your own unique twist to it.  Hand-write lyrics on a poster or draw a picture on a drumhead and sign it or for a fan.  Perhaps you can create a personal one-of-kind greeting to open your new album.  Adding a one of a kind experience to a manufactured good that already has real world value not only gives you a decent starting point price-wise but also affords you some flexibility depending on your audience.   However, if you are selling a vinyl test pressing, or a meet and great before a show or something that is super rare and limited in quantity, you will be able to fetch a premium price based on the exclusivity of the item or experience.
  3. A good rule of thumb: Put yourself in your fan’s shoes.  Would you be willing to spend your hard earned cash on your reward?  Let your honest answer to that question guide you.

Quantity

Depending on what your goals are, you can either choose to keep your experiences exclusive and intimate or far-reaching and accessible.  If you’re experimenting with offers, it’s a good idea to keep inventory low to see how they initially sell.  You can always increase the quantity if things start to sell quickly or even better, sell out.   Keep in mind, the quantity you set is closely related to price – the lower the quantity of something the more exclusive it is and therefore the higher you can price it.  Offerings with a high quantity do not have that “exclusivity” factor and you are better served to price those a bit lower.

Let’s take a look at two good examples of both cases.  We’ll compare Mum (an avant-grade Icelandic band) and The Postelles (an up and coming American indie rock band) to highlight the dynamic relationship between exclusivity and price.

  • Mum offered fans a completely custom song created using a fan’s choice of sounds, samples, concepts, etc. Due to the time commitment and effort needed to produce this offer, the band decided to only sell a few.  Naturally, the price was expensive for such a unique opportunity but the final product warranted it.  Within hours of sharing these unique opportunity with the fans, Mum was able to sell 3 customized songs for $1500 each.  Not a bad way to make some extra cash and cultivate a greater relationship with some of their biggest fans.
  • The Postelles wanted to create some buzz around their newest release and encourage their fans to actually BUY their album rather than stream it.  So they came up with the idea to personally “audiographed” 50 copies of their new album. An “audiograph” (according to them) is a personalized dedication just for the fan in digital format to be played in (STEREO) at the very beginning of the new album.  Fans loved the idea of having something personal and unique to them and jumped at the opportunity.  The Postelles kept prices incredibly reasonable knowing they could sell a large volume and create some excitement around the album.  It worked like a charm.  Fans who weren’t able to get their hands on the first wave of audiographed albums begged for the band to create more via The Postelles Facebook page and Twitter.  There was clearly a large demand, so The Postelles made a handful more which almost immediately sold out again.

Title

The title is the first thing a fan will see when the come across your offerings on your social channels, via email, and when they’re surfing the BandPage Experiences site so be sure to make it simple yet compelling and memorable.  Fans should want to click on your experience to learn more so have some fun with it and keep it personable and honest.

Top selling Experience titles:

  • Exclusive Pre-show Listening Party!
  • …And It Shook Me (AUDIOGRAPHED VERSION)
  • Personalized Outgoing Message from Us!
  • Backstage Buddz Bundle
  • Catch Our Show From The Side Stage
  • Wood Printed Design Hieroglyphics X Oakland
  • Intimate “Living Room” Album

Description

Your description is the best place to communicate to your fans what exactly it is you are offering them.  It’s imperative that you are as descriptive as possible so that the fan is absolutely clear on what it is they are getting in return for their money.  What format is it in, how long will it be, what’s included and how it will be fulfilled?  If there are rules and policies, be sure to list those out as well.  If you can’t give fans side stage access to shows that you aren’t headlining, be sure to make that clear.  Be sure to also include a clear call to action at the beginning or end of the description if there is something you specifically need from the fan.

Examples of good descriptions:

  • Issues’s Exclusive Pre-show Listening Party tells you exactly what is included: a Q&A, all the autographs you want, photos, an extremely intimate group setting, and of course, listen to the new material.
  • Stars’ Watch a Show From the Stage tells you the logistical details: you get 2 tickets included with the purchase, you get to choose which show you want to be on the stage for, and the purchase does not include travel to/from the show.
  • Hieroglyphics’ Wood Printed Design’s description includes the exact canvas size, some background and history, and for this offer the image shows you exactly what you see and is used to support the description.

Expiration Date

Shorter durations for your Experiences will have higher success rates and create a sense of urgency for your fans. We recommend setting your expiration date no later than a month out, and promoting it at big milestones (2 weeks left! 1 week left! 2 days left!).

Video & Photo

You should already have a BandPage profile photo uploaded. It’s your main form of branding on the page so choose a good photo that embodies who you are as an artist.

When uploading your photo or video, be sure to use an image that will catch the eye and is related to the offer. Unique, bright, colorful, high-resolution images get more clicks.

If you choose to make a video, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

  • Make it personable.  Don’t be afraid to get in front of the camera and tell your fans how excited you are about this opportunity to engage and connect with them.  You don’t have to be sales-y, just be yourself and stay true to who you are as an artists.  
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Knock it out in a couple of hours with a few friends or spend days editing it – whatever floats your boat.  Being yourself and being genuine goes a lot further than a slick, well-produced video. If you can do both, even better!
  • Be descriptive.  Here is another opportunity to explain to your fans what exactly it is they are getting.

Some Last Notes…

  • Number of Experiences: Start with no more than 3 unique offers.  You are going to need to promote these things to your fans and you dont want to be spamming them day after day.  Many artists prefer to promote one offer at a time.  Others have found success promoting a handful at the same time.  Find what works for you.  We feel keeping the number of unique offers low challenges you to really develop the ones you do have and that’s important.
  • Try to Keep Your Offer Audience Wide: If you have offers set in certain geographic areas, you’ll be limiting your audience to those of your fans who live near that region. Be aware of when this happens because you’ll be able to target those fans really well with Facebook ads. If you’re offering instrument lessons, be aware that you’re limiting the pool of potential buyers to your fans who happen to be currently learning how to play that exact instrument.
  • Fill Out Your BandPage Profile:  The Marketplace is another opportunity for you to market your content so important that your BandPage profile be up-to-date.  A fan may come across your profile looking to check out that signed vinyl test pressing you just put up for sale and notice you are playing in their town in a few weeks.  Or your offer might catch the eye of a fan of another band and they may want to check out your songs or videos.  You never know who is going to be seeing and listening to your stuff so make sure it’s all filled out and completely updated.

Those are our tips for setting up a great Experience! Definitely leave us feedback if you have questions or thoughts – and check out our other posts regarding promoting your offers if you haven’t already.

Promoting Your BandPage Experiences: Part 5 – Word of Mouth

Hi Musicians,

We’ve covered a number of different ways for you to promote your BandPage Experiences over the past week – the main takeaway is that there are many different ways and mediums to promote on. Take a look at your own fan base and think about where your most engaged fans are concentrated, then focus your energy there. Today we’ll be covering in-person / word of mouth promotion and what you can do when you’re with your fans in real life.

Part 1: Facebook | Part 2: Twitter | Part 3: YouTube | Part 4: Mailing List

Promote your BandPage Experiences at your live shows or whenever you’re in front of your fans. It’s an opportunity to reach a group of passionate fans who will be your evangelists and help spread the word.

Example: “Hey guys! I’m so glad you came out tonight to see me – it really means a lot. If you’re hungry for more, I have some XXXX up on my BandPage Experiences store. There are only a few left so you should grab them while they’re still up! Tell all your friends!”

Now you have a sense of all the things you can do to promote your Experiences after you set them up. We recommend posting where you have the highest concentration of fans who are likely to buy your Experiences. This often times means posting on your social networks first, in order of ones with the most fan count. The main point to remember is to make a compelling offer and take the time to promote your BandPage Experiences once you set them up!

Well, that’s it for our BandPage Experiences blog series on promoting your offers! Stay tuned for a post soon about how to structure a great offer – we’ll cover pricing, quantity, descriptions, and all that good stuff.

Promoting Your BandPage Experiences: Part 4 – Mailing List

Hey Musicians,

In this post we’ll cover how to promote your BandPage Experiences to your Superfans through your mailing list. To recap, we’ve been publishing a series of posts on different channels you can promote your Experiences through, and showcasing examples of how other successful musicians have done it. We are now approving submissions to join our BandPage Experiences closed beta – just log into your BandPage editor, choose the artist you want to submit and navigate to the BandPage Experiences tab on the left hand navigation.

Part 1: Facebook | Part 2: Twitter | Part 3: YouTube | Part 5: Word of Mouth

Your mailing list houses your most passionate fans – these are fans who want to hear from you and interact with you. Email your mailing list to tell them that they now have a chance to engage more deeply with you through BandPage Experiences.

Best Practices:

  • Keep it short: People’s attention spans are short. Keep your email text short and sweet, and more fans will read through the whole thing.
  • Give clear action steps: Tell your readers what to do next. If you’re promoting your BandPage Experiences, then action steps like “Buy them before they run out!” or “Check them out now” will point fans towards your goal of getting them to look at your Experiences page and buying an Experience.
  • Track your emails: Use trackable links like bit.ly or shortURL so you can track and measure the amount of traffic you are generating with your post, and optimize your message based on performance.

An example from Ryan from Sleeping at Last is below. He keeps his tone genuine and lighthearted throughout his whole email to his fans. He describes each experience in detail, and gives the context behind them.

After he sent this email to his mailing list, his Experiences sold out and he had to add more. The takeaway is that as a musician, you should know where your strongest group of fans are – and it will differ for each artist.  In general, if you have a mailing list then it should contain your strongest fans who want to hear from you and deepen their relationship with you.

BandPage Experiences email from Sleeping At Last

Thanks for reading this installment about promoting to your mailing list! Be sure to tune in for our next and final installment, promoting your Experiences through word-of-mouth.

Promoting Your BandPage Experiences: Part 3 – YouTube

Hey Musicians,

Now that you know how to promote your BandPage Experiences on Facebook and Twitter, our third post in this series will cover how to promote your Experiences on YouTube, both on your channel page and on your individual videos.

Promoting on YouTube

YouTube recently announced the YouTube One Channel, a redesigned layout for your YouTube account. You can promote your BandPage Experiences URL on your YouTube banner so that fans visiting your YouTube (in addition to your individual videos) will click through to them. Below is a screenshot of how to edit the links that show up on your banner.

How to set up your YouTube One Channel

BandPage is also an official YouTube Merch Annotations partner, which means that you can link out to your BandPage Experiences directly from within your videos. Annotations show up to your fans right when they are immersed in your video, so it’s the perfect place to promote your Experiences. It’ll show up as a transparent box that hovers over your video, like in Jack Conte’s video below:

 Jack Conte's Experiences Promotion on YouTube

Best Practices:

  • Keep your tone genuine and excited. This is an opportunity for you to reward your fans and give them a chance to get closer to you.
  • Always have a call to action. Jack Conte’s annotation gives the viewer a clear action step by telling them to buy his experience if they want to learn how to play the Ableton like him.
  • Show your fans what they’re getting. Whether in the video content itself like Jack did or in the annotation details, show your viewers what they’re getting. If it’s lessons, show off your skills. If it’s a meet and greet, show off your personality.

Resources

For our other posts on how to promote your BandPage Experiences:

Part 1: Facebook | Part 2: Twitter | Part 4: Mailing List | Part 5: Word of Mouth

Promoting Your BandPage Experiences: Part 2 – Twitter

Hi Musicians,

We’re back! To recap, this is part 2 of 5 of a series of blog posts on how to promote your BandPage Experiences. Part 1 covered different promotion tactics on Facebook, and this next post in the series will cover how to promote your Experiences to your Twitter fans.

Part 1: Facebook | Part 3: YouTube | Part 4: Mailing List | Part 5: Word of Mouth

Promoting on Twitter

Twitter is great for connecting to your fans in real-time, in your own voice. Write an engaging post about your experiences (keep it to 140 characters!), and prompt your fans to favorite, retweet, and click through to buy your experience right when they see your tweet. Retweeting is especially important because it expands the reach of your tweet to your fans’ followers.

Quick Tip! We suggest using trackable links like bit.ly or shortURL so you can track and measure the amount of traffic you are generating with your post, and optimize your message based on performance.

Best Practices:

  • Take Advantage of Twitter Lingo: Make good use of hashtags (#) to have your tweets show up in searches and mention other users (@) whenever applicable so that the maximum number of people will see your tweet.
  • Images and Media Get Clicks: Tweets with images get twice the amount of engagement as ones without. Examples:
    • George Clinton from Parliament Funkadelic makes great use of hashtags here, making his tweet show up to people who are searching for Oakland or Sacramento events on Twitter. He also conveys the concept of scarcity well in this tweet, making his followers act fast due to quantity running out.
    • George Clinton's Tweet about BandPage Experiences
  • Have Friends and Fans Retweet You: Increase your reach by having people you know share your tweet with their own followers by retweeting you.
  • Interact With Your Fans: Thank them for buying your Experience, answer their questions, give them a shoutout and more. Example from The Octopus Project:
    • The Octopus Project Retweets a Fan

Advertising on Twitter

  • Promoted Tweets: Select specific tweets to promote to your fans and increase the number of people who see it. You can choose to target your fans and/or fans of other bands you’ve toured with before or are similar in sound. Get started now at ads.twitter.com.

Twitter Advertising Resources:

Check out Part 1 of this series, which covers how to promote your BandPage Experiences on Facebook.