Music, Internet and fan promotion, those words have more in common than most would think. The Internet has received a bad rap as just a way to steal the music of a hard working artist. While this does happen many musicians are finding that the Internet can help them in more Fans of an artist are often thought to be fanatics who follow an artist around giving them gifts, invading their personal space and in some cases stalking them. While this does happen, a fans dedication, support and promotion capabilities are actually much more than that. The ability of a fan base to support an artist is a great thing that can and does help the artist enormously.
Artists find that the Internet and fan promotion brings a boost to their music. The Internet allows them to create multiple websites such as Twitter, FaceBook and MySpace as ways for fans to keep up with the happenings of their favorite artist. Artists are able to also have more personal fan communication because of the Internet than ever before, building personal connections with the fans. This in turn creates a kind a friendship and the fans become emotionally invested in wanting to do all they can to help the artists achieve all that they can possibly attain.
When artists need some extra word of mouth for example, they can go straight to the fan bases which are more than willing to spread the word. You may ask what the fan gets in return. They get the enjoyment of hearing the artist's music and watching them soar to new heights. Many times they get to hear the music before the general public does and sometimes they get free stuff and meet and greets plus much more. It is win-win on both sides.
While some artists still shy away from the Internet and becoming more invested with their fans, many are discovering that the Internet and fan promotion is a blessing in several ways. These artists are creating a very special bond with their fans that cannot be broken and they are
many advantages.Jeff Timmons(98 Degrees, Independent Musician), Taylor Hicks (American Idol, Independent Musician, currently Teen Angel in Grease) Judd Starr ( Independent Musician)and Bucky Convington (American Idol Contestant, Country Music Artist)weighed in with their opinions on music, Internet and fan promotion.
I asked each artist their own view on using the Internet to promote their music and this is what they said.
Jeff Timmons - I think the Internet blows the doors wide open to promote your music. The traditional forms of marketing and promotion - radio, television, and print media are extremely expensive, and there is a log jam of artists trying to fill a small amount of slots. With the Internet the possibilities are limitless. Of course you have amazing social networks where people congregate, but you also have new ways to get to more and more people every day. The Internet puts the control in the consumer's hands, and allows them to provide you immediate feedback of their likes and dislikes. This enables you to customize you content to suit your demographic, and allows you to do things your way and ignore traditional rules and limitations.
Taylor Hicks - I think the doors are completely wide open for however you want to use the Internet. It is an enormous window to go through to be able to promote your music. Cyberspace is a lot like outer space. I think that the possibilities are endless.
Judd Starr - I think musicians have to really be proactive when promoting via the Internet. It's not enough anymore to just put up a MySpace, sit back and act "cool". The old days of being the mysterious, aloof musician are over. Promotion nowadays involves a lot of interaction and creativity. It's crucial now, more than ever, to invent new and creative ways to communicate with an audience.
Bucky Covington - "The way I see it there is 2 sides; everyone can get their music heard and everyone can get their music heard," Bucky laughs.
A lot of people feel that the Internet creates a means for others to steal the work of an artist. So I asked them if they feel the Internet has a negative effect on their ability to protect their creative works.
Taylor Hicks - To a certain degree I think it does. But I think just as much good comes with it, such as the endless possibilities of getting your work out there. There are negatives as well and one is the protection of your art.
Judd Starr - No. If anything, it's an added protection. Before posting music online, musicians would sit in their rooms and studios and create songs. But who knew about them? The only protection was to copyright. Otherwise, in the event another musician stole the music, what proof did that musician have to convince a court that he/she created the song first? Now, however, once a song is posted
online...there's documented and dated proof as to when that work of art was made and by whom. If another musician steals a song or idea, it's simply a matter of comparing when the songs in question were posted online. Nevertheless, I always copyright my songs as a protective measure, as I've always done and I'd highly recommend other musicians to continue to do so as well.
Bucky Covington - Without a doubt, nothing is safe on the Internet whether it is music, financial information, movies etc.
Jeff Timmons - The Internet does make it difficult to protect your works if you are glued to the old model of doing business. In the old paradigm, artists rarely made any money off of their record sales anyway. The labels found one way or another to get that. The music is a commercial. Music is culture first, and should be commerce second. If you give away your music, that means you're betting that it is good and fans will return to buy some later, or even better buy into you as an artist. They can come to your show, subscribe to your website, buy your merchandise. I don't see too many bad things about the music business and the Internet.
The Internet has created a means for promotion and fan interaction that wasn't there for artists before the development of the Internet. I asked them how this helps an artist and if there are instances when it can hurt an artist or cause problems?
Bucky Covington -The Internet helps you give your fans an instant glimpse into the everyday which makes the fans happy. On the down-side, you need to watch yourself at all times... No matter what job you have, whether an artist, banker, fireman etc there is always someone with a flip phone or camera ready to catch every move you make and upload to the Internet!
Jeff Timmons - I think it helps artists in many ways from touring, to getting opinions about the material, to sales, etc. I think it may begin to hurt if fans take it personally if you don't interact with every single one of them every day. It is nearly impossible for me to read every email, DM, IM, facebook message, MySpace message, and tweet every day, and respond to them all. Sometimes if you are hands on with the fans, they become so used to it, that they don't understand how difficult it is to keep up, and as quickly as the good words can spread about you, bad things can happen, too. 99% of my fans understand this, but there are always those that just can never be satisfied. I try my best though, and love the fans. They allow me to do what I love: music.
Taylor Hicks - I think every artist is different. For me I think the use of FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter and all of those basically allow a fan to receive information much more quickly than before. The interaction and information that can be exchanged has done a world of good for the fan and the artist.
Judd Starr - Like most things in life, there needs to be a balance I suppose. As I stated before, the days of lying back, being the mystery band that's too cool to talk to their fans is over. Conversely, that doesn't mean it's always a great idea to give out personal phone numbers, addresses, emails, etc. A good, healthy respect between the artist and fan should always be there.
Artists are starting to go to the fan base and get their views on many things such as what song off of a record should be the first single. After Taylor Hicks won American Idol his first CD was titled simply "Taylor Hicks" Taylor went to the fan base and asked them which song they like most and that they thought he should have as his first single. The song they chose was "Just to Feel that Way" and that was the first single off the CD. I asked Taylor what made him decide to include his fans in on this choice.
Taylor Hicks - Well ultimately your fans are what keep you afloat as an artist and an entertainer. I wanted to make sure that they had a say and it was kind of a cool way to figure out and get a good read on what their favorite over-all song was on the record.
Many artists are starting to give one song away to fans as a way for them to be able to hear what kind of music the artist is creating, but Jeff Timmons has gone much further than that. Jeff is giving away a whole collection of his songs digitally for fans to download and enjoy. I asked Jeff how he came up with this idea.
Jeff Timmons- I actually was asked about the idea from a very creative friend of mine who is a screenwriter. He was reading this book called "Free" that is all about the idea of giving stuff away to create loyalty in the long-term. I have never really had a major solo record, and 98 Degrees hasn't had anything out on the radio for quite some time, so I cannot expect someone to go to Wal-Mart and pay 12-15 dollars for my record. I have this body of music that I'm proud of, and I want it to be heard. If I have to give some away to get people excited about me as a solo artist and support what I do, then why not? I've worked very hard on the material over the last four years, so I want it in people's hands. Whatever comes after is a blessing.
Jeff is also very active on Twitter. I asked him how using Twitter and interacting with the fans helps him.
Jeff Timmons - I have always been very active with the fans. Actually, 98 Degrees, as a group thought it was very important to pay attention and show respect to all of our fans for enabling us to do what we did. Twitter is simply amazing. I can find out what the fans want to hear or where they want me to go and perform. I can "lurk" and find out more about them and what types of my songs appeal to them or not. I'm pretty much a people person anyway, so Twitter is like candy for me. It has created excitement in a matter of minutes to a larger audience, than say going on a radio show for a five minute interview. It is viral, organic and less formal, and WAY more effective in my eyes.
Bucky Covington and his band create videos while on the road and post them online to share with fans. I asked Bucky what made him decide to do this and how it helps him.
BuckyCovington-I'm no actor, so I'm not sure how much it helps, Bucky laughs. When I was a kid, I always wondered and imagined what went on backstage and this gives them a way to experience what the behind-the-scenes of a concert is really like. And, then they'll see why I'd like to be tailgating with them! Fans love this stuff and they are so supportive, I love sharing it with them.
Bucky's fans also video and audio record his shows and share them online with the fans. I asked Bucky how this benefits him as an artist when he doesn't make anything from these recording.
Bucky Covington -Fans who come out to our shows purchase tickets and albums to show their support, so why not? Each one of my shows has something different and if a fan couldn't make the show for whatever reason, this gives them a way to experience and enjoy it.
Lastly I asked them what advantages they have experienced from using the Internet and fan promotion.
udd Starr - If I was Justin Timberlake....it probably wouldn't increase the number of fans coming to my show or buying my music. Conversely, as an independent artist, it's a fantastic means to be noticed and really make a difference. Computer technology is also a crucial element involved in the revolution of the music business. Along with technology in the form of recording software, the Internet and social sites have completely deconstructed the old "model" of how things were done. Now, the musician bypasses the record labels, who use to fund the album (which now can be done with inexpensive software), the previously revered and feared distributors are a thing of the past (simply upload your song and "wa-la"....you're distributed), the brick and mortar retail store is obsolete, now there is iTunes, Napster and a hundred other music sites to sell your music.
It's a whole new world. There's much less begging the big businesses to get our music heard. All of these changes are a great benefit to the majority of musicians who wouldn't otherwise be heard. All the politics and years of corruption have nearly disappeared. Additionally, (newsflash)....music just happened to be the first industry to be majorly impacted by all of this.
Most are aware that newspapers are quickly becoming dinosaurs....next will be major TV networks (there will be a myriad of infinite web shows...all connected to our TVs), no more cable or satellite and I guarantee that movie production companies are dreading the day when new release movies will find their way to the Internet. Once that happens, they'll be in the same boat as major record labels once movies can easily be downloaded for free via Torrent and similar sites that make proof of copyright infringement impossible. I could go on forever and bore everyone to tears (if I haven't already), but film editing / production software and inexpensive HD cameras are all soon going to breed a new kind of indie filmmaker....just as the Internet has made indie musicians.
Jeff Timmons - Fans are aware that I am still around! I'm still making music. They are helping me get the word out about my material and they are demanding what cities they want to see me perform in. They're the best.
Taylor Hicks- The power of the Internet allows the artist to create an authentic, personal relationship with the fans - That's a great benefit for both artist and fan. Through Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and my Ning site. I have all of the means to communicate on an on-going basis with my followers. On Twitter @TaylorRHicks, I offer ticket giveaways for shows and provide pictures from the cities I visit- straight through my phone. Today, the fans want content more than ever, and the Internet allows you to give them just that.
With the phone being a mobile device, I can share info simultaneously. The social networking sites also allow fans to communicate with one another, creating a strong sense of community where they can share stories, content, and information with one another. The fans become close to each other, and that's an amazing thing. To know you have fans is great. But to be able to reach out to them on a personal level is much more important to me.
Bucky Covington - A benefit that I've experienced is staying in touch with the American Idol fan base that supported me through the show. There are many sites and blogs that are all about Idol.
As you can see the Internet is a great avenue for artists and their fans. The musician gets their music out to a much broader audience than ever before and they are able to form bonds with their fans all over the world. There are no limits to the size of the audience that they can reach. The fans are able to hear, read and see nearly anything that their favorite artist is doing or going to be doing instantaneously. As Taylor Hicks said "The fans become close to each other". Many of these friends become as close as family and have at least one common bond, the joy of listening to the music of the artist that they all admire.
To learn more about Jeff Timmons, Taylor Hicks, Bucky Covington or Judd Starr visits the sites listed below.
Bucky Covington's newest music video "Gotta Be Somebody" recently came in #12 in the GAC Top 20 countdown and #4 on CMT Pure.
Bucky is currently working on his newest album "I'm Alright" coming out in April 2010.
http://www.reverbnation.com/jefftimmons2Go here to download Jeff Timmons newest collection of songs that he is giving to the fans for free.
Jeff Timmons is performing live for a Pre- Grammy Party and Concert at the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills, CA Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM PST you can purchase tickets at this site. http://www.wantickets.com/EventDetail.aspx?trackingid=656&id=656&e_id=98339 There will also be a meet and greet after the concert so you can meet Jeff if you want to.
Jeff is going to be hosting his own radio program on blog talk radio. His music will be on rotation and he will be doing occasional hosting. Check it out at www.blogtalkradio.com/jefftimmonsontheair
Taylor Hicks sophomore album 'The Distance" was released March 2009 and can be purchased at stores and online outlets.
Taylor is currently staring as Teen Angel in the national tour of Grease. You can catch him at a city near you. Check Taylor Hicks.com for information. Stick around after the show as Taylor performs his single from the album "The Distance" after the show.
January 5th 2010 Taylor Hicks released his "Whomp at the Warfield" DVD. This DVD was recorded during his post-Idol tour it is a concert video of his show at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco in 2007.