What's the best way to market to fans? And how can you get fans to spread the gospel of bands they love? Such were the focal areas of a "Fan Based Marketing" panel, one of the final sessions during South By Southwest 2009. The ground covered mostly tapped into effective Internet use as well as selling merchandise at live concerts.
Don VanCleave, who ran the Coalition of Independent Music Stores for fifteen years and now works for Gary Gersh's Artist Organization, relayed his experiences working with Matisyahu. VanCleave argued that the higher level of fan interaction an artist will allow will be a driving force behind sales, citing that Matisyahu is actively communicating via Twitter with his fans. VanCleave also cited strategies where the consumer is the producer, such as T shirt designs and ticket referral systems, as successful ways to proceed in the future.
Brian Zisk, who co-founded the Future of Music Coalition, discussed the power of promoters in local markets to advertise shows via Facebook and the importance of tastemakers within communities and Jo Lenardi of Barsuk Records cited two interesting strategies her label has undergone in the last few years. They no longer seek the help of the once ubiquitous "street teams" and instead, encourage her artists to be at the merch tables as much as possible after their sets are done.
Dave Devore of FanMail Marketing provided interesting statistics about email blasts and "databasing" the fan. "It's about delivering the right thing through the right medium," he said of the numerous options available. Devore echoed many of VanCleave's sentiments, notably when he said "Fans want access, they want stuff. Coming up with and being creative is huge."