The following article is featured in the current issue of Canadian Musician. To view the original article and many more please visit: www.canadianmusician.com
by Aaron Bethune
Blog, Website & Google Analytics
Using the analytics or stats provided by blogs, websites, and Google can give you key insights into various things, including where your visitors are from geographically, what keywords they have typed to come across your site, how long they spend on your site, what content gets the most action, which days and times of the week get the most traffic, and which posts or tracks got the most views or listens on specific days.
Use your blog to find out how people came across you. Seeing the search terms used can give you an idea of what brings people to your site. These search terms can give you an idea of your viewers’ interests. It also is a good barometer of what your brand is attracting. In turn, it can help you to create content, tags, and so on that can help with search engine optimization (SEO).
People who comment are potential super fans. They are the ones you want to be sure to engage with. You can check out each commenter’s profile or Gravatar to gain more information on the person. You can even find out what blogs commenters subscribe to and learn more about their interests.
Use the blog analytics to discover where your audience is coming from. This again will help you focus your marketing efforts, your distribution strategy, and your tour scheduling.
Use TV to profile your fans
If you have had the opportunity to license your music to television, you can tap into the resources of the TV show to find out more about the demographic of its audience. You can find out where the show’s ratings are highest, so as to have an idea of popularity based on location.
Quite often, TV series have music players on their websites with the names and songs of the artists featured on their shows. Once again, this can help you when it comes to comparing your fan profile to that of another established artist.
If your music has not been licensed, you can still use these resources as long as you are able to identify shows that play music of a similar style to yours. TuneFind can help you identify the music that you hear on movies and TV shows and Adtunes can identify the music used in commercials.
Once you have found your fans on other sites, you can search for them on Pinterest and search the Pinterest pages of artists who sound similar to you. Pinterest will give you a very visual idea of what your fans’ interests are. Because your music is only a part of the engagement with your fans, it is important to know some of the common interests you might share.
Keep in mind that if you were to find out that your fan is a female between the ages of 25 and 37 who enjoys yoga and outdoor living, is a vegetarian, and has no kids, you might decide to approach your music marketing from the angle of a yoga-equipment company. You might choose to establish brand partnerships with companies unrelated to the music industry that are influential in the lives of your targeted demographic. Finding your way into the hearts of potential fans via lifestyle choices and brand consumption is a great way to set yourself apart from the pack.
Use iTunes to see other albums or artists purchased by the people that bought your music. Keep in mind that people who go to the extent of commenting and engaging on blog posts and leaving reviews on sites such as iTunes and Amazon are potential Super Fans.
As a side note, when a comment or review is negative, you can give yourself a pat on the back for generating passion in people! Negative comments can be opportunities to start a conversation and ultimately lead to converting that bad reviewer into a newfound super fan.
As for how to get featured on iTunes, mobilizing fans to download your music around a specific day or event really does increase your chances of spiking and arousing attention. The number of downloads it takes depends on the genre. But if you are able to get attention with enough action in one day and everything available online shows that you are the real deal and not just trying to cheat the system, you could get featured on the front page of the genre you are in.
For example, if it takes one hundred downloads of a folk artist in one day to create a spike. How could you organize at least one hundred fans to purchase your latest single on the same day? Get creative. Here are some ideas to get the juices flowing:
• You could include a $10 iTunes gift card as part of the ticket price to your concert, or even with the purchase of a physical album, and then find a way to have everyone use it to purchase your album during the show. Make it some sort of a ritual. They get it for free, you get the majority of the money you spent on the gift cards back via your digital distributor (from the iTunes sales), and you get the chance to be featured on the iTunes page. What happens if you were to give out one hundred cards a night on an extensive tour?
• You could call your mailing list into action to purchase your latest single on a specific day and in return gift them the rest of the album electronically. All you would need is proof they purchased it, such as an iTunes receipt or a screenshot of the download. While you’re at it, you could ask them to leave a review on iTunes in return for a bonus song.
• You could have a laptop at your merch stand and have people log in to their iTunes account and purchase your single. They could also use their phones and mobile devices to log in and buy it. In return you can give them a link to download the entire album digitally for free. The pitch is “99 cents for the full album.”
Being featured is an editorial process. Be sure to communicate with your aggregator (such as CD Baby, TuneCore, or Ditto Music) to ensure they include your content on the list that goes to the iTunes editorial teams. Every little bit counts and the potential exposure is more than worth it!
Use Facebook Insights to understand more about your audience members and how they interact with your posts. By knowing what posts pique your audience’s interest, where your audience is from, the languages they speak, and the gender and age group they belong to, you have more information for the profile of your super fan.
You can also use Facebook Graph Search to identify your fans, learn about their favourite interests and hobbies, pinpoint the interests of the artists who sound similar to you, find potential co-branding opportunities, and refine the types of contests you create. All this adds to a better understanding of your audience and how to target the super fan.
Use Google Trends to search for similar artists, song titles of similar-sounding tracks, lyrics, brands, and so on. You will be able to gauge such factors as the online interest that currently exists, whether the artists and songs are actively being searched for and whether there is more or less interest presently than in the past. You’ll also find out what search terms are most popular, how popular the topic is, and where most people are searching those keywords from geographically.
For example, by searching for “Kings of Leon” you will find out in which countries people are most actively searching information about them and what search terms people are using, and you will be able to compare dates of when people were most actively searching for the name and particular events and articles that took place at the time. Consequently, you can learn about what in particular sparked people’s interest in doing a search. This information helps you learn more about the audience that exists for artists that are similar to you. It is a good source of marketing ideas and research too. Additionally, Google Trends gives a lot of insight into keywords to use in your online content, as well as topics to blog about to help with your SEO.
Trends are cyclical. When “new” information is released or “new” events take place around a previous trend, new spikes appear. The interesting thing is that a topic may not have lost people’s interest—they may still be fans of Harry Potter books and films, for example—but it may simply be over the novelty phase. To create Google Trend peaks, you need to create conversation, media interest, online content, and so forth around your brand. If it is a matter of peaking old trends, you need to bring something “new”—something that once again generates media interest, conversation, online content …
Ask Your Fans Who They Are!
After all the previous suggestions, I cannot leave out the most direct approach: ask your fans who they are. Use online surveys and have sign-up sheets at your concerts, with pertinent fields for fans to fill in. Many companies offer surveys that can be sent out in different ways, including via social media or in newsletters or emails.
Always consider the fan and the WIFM (what’s in it for me) factor, by giving back something in return for someone’s time. Get creative with the questions and get creative with what you offer in return.
A few companies that provide surveys include Constant Contact, KwikSurveys, Survey Monkey, and Survey Tool.
All accumulated data plays an immensely important role in how you market your brand. It helps you create Facebook ads to target your fan demographic. It helps you know which platforms to focus on and which to forget about. It can affect your tour routing and the types of venues you approach, as well as the choice of radio stations you send your music to. Even the merchandise you create will be affected once you know who’s buying it. You can create marketing strategies that will appeal to your fan base and not miss the mark. Without knowing your fan base, it is all just a shot in the dark.
It’s obviously preferable to send out newsletters whose content appeals to your fan base. Just think: with all the accumulated data, you can create a newsletter containing information people want to read about as well as details of experiences and products that they not only want to purchase, but that fit their personal income. Keep in mind that knowing where your fans are from and what their ages are means you are able to find out what average incomes are in their area. If you know where your fans are and what they do for work, you can use a tool like Salary.com to know their average income.
There are other fan profiling tools that are hugely important, such as YouTube analytics, that are worth researching and utilizing but that I could not include here due to space. Use this article as a jumping off point for further research.
Aaron Bethune is a musician, consultant, creative collaborator, founder of the music services company PlayItLoud, a juror for FACTOR, and the author of Musicpreneur: The Creative Approach to Making Money in Music, in which this and much more career building advise can be found. For more information, go to www.musicpreneur.ca. Aaron can be reached at