Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

July 21, 2009

Fringe Fans Fallout and Followup

I published my Beware of Fringe Fans post to the Music Think Tank blog last week. It spurred a string of comments -- some supportive and some from good people with opposing views.

Here's a follow-up comment I just posted there:

Thanks for all the great comments! Here are a few follow-up thoughts ...

I used the phrase "Fringe Fans" because I wanted a quick way to articulate the type of fan I was writing about. Plus I wanted something that would look good in a headline, and I liked the double F alliteration :-)

You can call them "casual fans" or "secondary fans" or whatever. It's the idea behind it that matters to me.

Perhaps the example I gave of the guy who wanted free stuff wasn't the best to make my point, which was this:

There are different types of fans who support you in different ways. You should welcome them all. BUT I believe you should focus on your most supportive fans and not be distracted by trying to please the entire spectrum of your overall fan base.

These "core" or "ideal" fans support you in many ways: with their time, attention and money, for sure. But also with their positive word of mouth. However they support you, it's all valuable.

But let's not overlook the monetary value of core fans. Radiohead has millions of "fans," but only their core fans paid for the "choose your own price" download and later bought the CD. Trent Reznor has millions of "fans," but only his core fans sprung for the $300 deluxe box set.

These core fans are your support team and real world promotional army. Send them some special love. Cater to them first and foremost, even if it means offending some of the more casual, dare I say "fringe" fans out there.

Am I missing something? Feel free to add your two cents as well.


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posted by Bob Baker @ 10:41 AM   3 comments


At Jul 22, 2009 2:48:00 PM, Blogger Sam Bhattacharya said...

I think you're 100% correct, Bob. There really are hardcore/ideal fans of your music on the one hand and casual/fringe fans on the other.

The terminology for them may change over time, but the distinction between them is real. I've clearly seen it with my own music. And it certainly helps understanding which of your supporters falls into those respective categories.

At Jul 27, 2009 12:56:00 PM, Anonymous Will Duke said...

That's right Sam. It actually made me think of my local Smoothie King. I spend at least 150 dollars a month on 40 oz. Peanut Power Plus smoothies (which, by the way, you have to try - peanut butter, honey, bananas, strawberries...) I think I'm an ideal fan.

But the owners of the Smoothie King wouldn't know if I was (they don't keep track of who their customers are, much less the ones who are most loyal); I get the same punch cards everyone else does.

For an artist, it's crucial to know who your fans are, and who your best fans are - the ones represent the highest returns (in revenue, in word-of-mouth advertising, etc.).

It's hard to measurably improve (on purpose) what you aren't already measuring.

At Jul 29, 2009 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Sam Bhattacharya said...

Yeah, I've seen this concept work for other kinds of businesses besides music as well. Is anyone a fan of a mom & pop grocery store as opposed to Whole Foods, Giant or Safeway? :-)

On myspace, one technique I use to identify my likely ideal fans is ask my friends for their email addresses. I offer them a free mp3 of one of my songs in exchange for their contact information.

This way I build an email list of people who are actually interested in my music. Most of these people also befriend me on facebook if they have an account there.


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