Here is the transcription of episode 1 of season 3 of the podcast "Success Beyond The Score". Happy reading!
- Watch the video of the episode here: https://youtu.be/X7irben25ac
- Listen to the audio of the episode here: https://www.successbeyondthescore.com/podcast
Today, the topic is: does your music have the juice to pull a crowd? This is so important. I think this is a really, really good topic because, um, I think it was just about a couple of weeks ago, a promoter contacted me and they said: Look, I am looking for someone to headline my show. Do you know anyone? And I was like: What type of musician you're looking for? And they described the kind they were looking for. I thought: Mm interesting. Who do I know -apart from myself- who do I know that they could book, that people would want to see. Because that is what they were looking for, they wanted to put someone on their flyer, someone local, someone in the West Midlands, they didn't want to travel too far. Yes, they could go abroad. Yes, they could go to London. But, you know, they wanted local. And I couldn't think of anyone.
Now, I'm sure when you are watching this, you're going to say: Pick me! Pick me! They've already got it sorted, but it's good to know that people are there, but I couldn't think of anyone. I've been to so many gigs, so many places. I know many singers, I know many musicians, but who could be that starlight for their show? Really, really difficult.
ABOUT FAN BASES:
Now, one of the markers of being that kind of headline, a starlight, and I mentioned headlight last week, is that you have a fan base. And maybe you don't like that word, fan base. Maybe you like the word followers. But you need to have people you can bring because they're promoters. And that was not only promoter, I can think of other promoters who booked me because I can bring people, because, let's face it, promoters are in it to make money and entertain. They want to make sure that entertainment makes money for them, so it's no use in them booking you if you can't bring anybody. They'd be like: That is not business sense.
If you remember yesterday, I said one of my topics is that musicians must apply business to their music for it to grow. And this is what promoters do. They're thinking about the pounds and pence and how that show can generate good time for the audience, but you got to get an audience there.
So I'm going to give you some reasons why it's important for you to have a crowd, to have a fan base, to have followers. Now, certainly for me, when I was starting out, I didn't have followers. I didn't have a crowd. I didn't have social media. I had zero, zero, zero, zero, and I had to grow that over time. But at the early stages I, maybe like you, was just really interested in getting on the stage, performing, doing a great job, getting people saying "you did well", worrying about the mistakes -as we do- correcting the mistakes and getting better, and that was it. That's all you want to do. But if you want to make it in the music industry, apply business. You need a fan base. You need people around you.
Now, before I go into that, I just want to remind you: if you're new here, I'm Millicent Stephenson, this is my podcast, Success Beyond the Score. This is season three. This is episode two, and I have some free gifts. I've got two actually: one's called "The 25 Secrets of the Successful Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper and Spoken Word Artiste", and the other one is called "How to Get Paid In Advance". Now, if you go over to my website (if you're good at multitasking, you can do that now while you're listening to me and watching me), or to do it later. It's www.successbeyondthescore.com/freegifts.
Okay, so let me just go back to, um, what I was saying. I stumbled across the whole concept of a fan base. Like I said, I was just interested in getting on stage, playing and getting booked. It was ministry. Eventually, I said: well, it's ministry, but it's also, I want to earn from it. It would come to the pay thing in a couple of episodes to come. But I didn't really understand this concept of fan base. Now, I stumbled across it when one, I created my first CD and, within six months, I'd broken even. That meant all the money I'd put in to making the CD, and it was a good 2.5K to do it, I broke even in six months, which is phenomenal. And I thought: Wow, that's good! People like my music, I didn't think they would. Oh my gosh, I am surprised.
The next time I came across a concept of a fan base was when I put on my first show called "Not Just Jazz". This is probably in reverse. Well, no it isn't. I think it's in the right way. Uh, I can't remember. Anyway, I called my show "Not Just Jazz" because I played different styles of music: reggae, jazz, pop, blues, gospel. And I put on my first show and I thought: I'm going to not book a big place. I'm just going to book a small place. It was like a 60 seater. This was a few years ago maybe because seven, seven or eight years ago. And I thought: I'll never get that filled. I mean, mum's going to come, my family might come, my husband will come, my kids will come. I'll get in the band there. And I advertised, and I kid you not, I had about a 8 or 12 week lead up and it was panic stations at the beginning. But by the time it got to two weeks out, I'd sold out of tickets and there was a waiting list and the venue said: We can squeeze another 20 chairs in full capacity, 80 people.
That was the beginning of my show, and I'm going to talk a little bit about the show in another episode, but in the context of this, people came to watch me. And I'm like: Oh my life. So I then thought: Well, how can I get this to repeat? Because every year I put on Not Just Jazz, and every year my venues got bigger and bigger and I got people there.
And so, I had to learn the technique of having a fan base and growing a fan base. So let me tell you something about fan base. This is a reason why you need to have a fan base. These are people who love you. They love what you do and they're going to buy your merch. Like my T-shirts, my hoodies, my CDs, they buy it.
What's the benefit of that? Well, as a musician, you need income. You need that kind of passive income that comes through without too much hard work. Of course, if you're going to get CDs made, you've got to go to the shop, you've got to decide on your logo and all that kind of thing. So you put that upfront work, but you need to be able to sell it. To sell it, you need to have people who are going to buy it, and the people are going to buy it to are people who love what you do. They're your followers, they're your fan base.
The second reason for having a fan base is this: they become your ambassadors because they're going to wear your merch, it's advertising. I remember having someone, um, when we had another business on their car, they had the logo on their, their wheels and it was brilliant. That was a great way of advertising and must probably do that for my music, hmm... um, but they are your ambassadors, and they are going to recommend you to people.
I cannot tell you the amount of times I've had people call me. In fact, in my inbox, now, I have someone inquiring if I can come and do a wedding. I was recommended. I have people call me up, they want to book me? I was recommended. They get recommended through my fan base and also to my previous bookers and promoters, but my fan base are great. I remember doing a funeral and someone came up to me and said: Oh, I gave your name to so and so and so and so, I said: Did you? You are the person that got me that job! Yes, fan base are great.
And the third thing, which is really connected to the second is: networks. Your fan base have a group of people, not just people who want you to perform, but people who might want a musician to come and read a story to children or a musician to go and perform at a particular venue, or a musician to come and talk about what it's like being a musician. Their networks. And so having your fan base will help you to get work.
I think that's the bottom line. It's going to help you to get work and it'll help you to bring in income. Now, do bear in mind with that third option, right? It's a little bit different to be an ambassador. When someone connects you into their network, they're taking a risk. They're only going to connect you into their network if they know you can do the job.
I remember doing an event in Nottingham and, at the end of the event, I was waiting for my husband to come with a car, and I was chatting to this person. We just got chatting and he began to tell me about what he did, um, an international work that he does. He said he could help me out with this international connection. I thought: Ooh, that sounds good! So we changed numbers, kept in contact, and you know what? Things really, really worked out until... COVID! And everything was up, which was a shame. But this person took a risk and they checked me out and they thought: Yes, I want to help this person.
Having a fan base is also key for record labels. They want to know you have a fan base. They want to know you've already got people following you or else they're not going to put money into you. 'Cause nowadays, gone are the days when someone will see you sing a note and go: Right, I'm going to book you, I'm going to put my money into you. I'm going to share my networks, I'm going to distribute your music. I'm going to put you on the biggest stages. Now the only way to get that is if you do something like X Factor or anything like that. Um, and then it's only one person can get that. But in your day to day, labels will not take you on unless you've got a lot of stuff already working for you. It's just the way the market is.
So having a fan base is a mark of your credibility. And before I go off any further, again, I should have said -I'm so excited to get talking and I forgot to say- if you've got any questions, please put them in the chat. Um, there's like a little bit of a delay so I can see the chat here, but it takes maybe a minute or two to get to me. So please beaver away, throw your questions in and I'll probably jump on my phone as well. Let's have a look... Oh, right. Yes. I can see on my phone that questions come through, but let me just finish what I'm saying and then I'm going to come to that.
So, like, having a fan base is a mark of credibility. It makes you bookable. I've had people book me 'cause they know I can bring people with me. And, like I said, the big players, they're going to want you on their bill, they're going to want to invest in you because you've got people already. You've cultivated people already.
QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE 1:
Now, then, let me have a look at my chat. Okay. Oh, message from wellbeing Sophia: "Can you talk about how to get more people to attend events? I'm looking for tips on increasing attendance without harassing everyone". I know! It's really funny. Oh my gosh. Harassing everybody, you know? Tips for getting people, more people to check it. Well, look, if you are the musician, and you don't have direct contact with a group of people, your fan base, it's going to be kind of hard. So you are going to be harassing people, but really what you should be doing is when people say: I like your music, and where are you playing next? And have you got a CD? And when people start asking questions like that, you know you are on the road to a fan base and sorting things out. Honestly, you are, and you really want to be keeping in contact with them. That's the key thing.
How are you going to keep in contact with them? Well, you need to have an email list. "I don't do email!" Okay, well, maybe if they are happy to give their phone number to you, you could store it in your phone. Now, big, big, big caveat: GDPR in the UK it's all about data protection and you got to go check that out to make sure how you are running your business. 'Cause once you start to collect names and addresses, the law kicks in. So it's very, very important.
Now, that person says: Yes, I actually want to do this. And in fact, it's better that you give them a link that they tap onto and on that it says: I'm happy to give you my details and yes, I want to subscribe to your mailing list. You really need to have something like that in place. Um, so that can be email list, if you want to go on the phone route, you can, but make sure you've got that so that say so from them, and then you really want to start keeping in contact with them. You know, and that's sort of regular newsletters and stuff.
Of course, even if you have a fan base, you don't want to be harassing them, but I'll tell you what you can actually do: if you're interested in a course on how to create a fan base, I would love for you to grab one of my free gifts. And that will help you to get onto my email and let me know that you're interested in that. You can email me directly at [email protected] If you, on my mailing list, I can just shoot out something and you can just contact me. That's the way I keep in contact with you. So please, think about that, you know, having that list of people, Sophia, that love your music and you can contact them and let them know about that. I hope that answers your question.
QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE 2:
I notice you've put another question: " Are followers on social media really fans?" Hey, hey! Good, good, good question. Let me just say something about that. Many of us will go down the route of TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter... WhatsApp and Telegram are a little bit different because that's sort of direct. But when it comes to social media and places like that, many of us will work to have large numbers. YouTube! 'Cause I'm on YouTube, and obviously we work to have large numbers and that's quite good, nice. But the problem with social media is that you do not have direct contact to the people who have clicked to subscribe to your channel to follow you, who liked your posts.
Who owns the emails? The platform: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, all of them. All of them own it except you, which means when you put up a post today, tomorrow, or yesterday, depending on how you structure that post, it will get out to some people. And depending on the flavour of the month for the social media platform and what it is they're trying to achieve in terms of people being on the platform, engaging on the platform, your post may not go up to everybody.
So, let's say you have... an arbitrary number -not saying you do, not trying to insult you- let's just say you have 50 people on your social media and you put a post up. I kid you not. If you look at it, you'll see maybe 3 people have read it. 1 heart, 10 hearts, but you'll get a message from the social media platform saying: Boost this post. They want you to spend a little bit more money on the platform to boost the post.
It's business. It's their business. That's fine. You're on the platform for free, advertising yourself for free, so they want you to spend money on advertising. You may not have that money and that is fine, but you do not have access to the email. So you cannot send out an email to those people there saying: Hey, I got a gig, come here. So the answer really is... social media followers, yes, are kind of the people who like what you do, are interested in what you do, and will follow what you do, but they're not the people you can get direct access to.
TYPES OF FANS:
And saying that has triggered another thought in terms of your first question. You know, there are different types of fans, I should say, different types of fans. Let's assume you don't have an email list. That means you don't have a way of contacting those people. Those people are going to be your friends, your family, and your colleagues. And of course, you can't be bothering them all the time if they're not interested. The ones who said they are interested are the ones you can contact a little bit more, get them onto your mailing list, then you're off to the races. But even when you're off to the races, there's still stages that people go through.
You got fans who are just following you. They like to receive your emails. That's fine. They'll read it when they have time, that's fine. But then you've got the people who will come to a gig, now that's a different type of fan. They're more engaged with you. They've got a bit more skin in the game. These are the kind of fans who will probably buy a CD or buy a T-shirt. That's fine. But then you have the super fans. They're the ones who buy everything you have, will come everywhere you are going, keep in touch with you, tell people about you. They're loyal. And you have to grow your fan base and cultivate people along that sort of funnel, along that sort of journey.
And then, at the very extreme, you've got the stalkers, they're the super fans gone wrong, the ones who expect that you should reply to their emails. Hopefully you'll have none. But I hope that really helps. So if you are understanding the types of fans, you might find that, when you are actually pushing out and telling people about your events, the people you are talking to are somewhere on that continuum. You know, they're probably just at the earlier stages of like what you do, just want to know some information from time to time. And the ones that will actually say: Oh yeah, yeah, let me know when, yeah, yeah. Unless they are fobbing you off, hopefully they're not, are the more engaged fans, and then you've got your super fans and then the ones you don't need to know.
Anything else I need to tell you about fans? Not much more really, unless you've got a question. Also, if you've just tuned in, just to reminder that I have free gifts, absolutely free! Go along to www.successbeyondthescore.com/freegifts and you can get one of two, or both, which are "25 Secrets of the Gigging Musician Singer, Rapper and Spoken Word Artiste" and "How to get paid in advance". I keep saying that. I'm sure it's a different title, but you'll know when you get there... Yes, it's "10 reasons why they will pay you before Gig day". I should know the title correctly, shouldn't I? I don't know, too much stuff going on. Too much stuff going on.
QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE 3:
Let's just see if there's any more questions. Michael Stephenson: What about that logo on your T-shirt? Well, this logo is my "Not Just Jazz" logo. Very proud of it! It's got the sax on there and, um, just a bit of a design that we came up with a few years ago. It was just a bit of merch, like I mentioned before, something to sell to my fans. And it's good to have merch when you're doing your own show, and sometimes when you're not, when you're doing other shows and having it there and selling it. It's a great way to make income, it's a great way to get the word out about you. People will wear it, advertise it..., In fact, on the back, let me just see if you can see the back. There you go, twisting my spine. I think it should say "Music for the Soul", www.millicentstephenson.com. So that was my music website, which is actually in the YouTube link if you want to go and check out what I do musically. It's great to have them. I have it in three colours, black, red, and grey. I don't think I've got much left now, but that's what it is. Michael, I hope that helps with your question.
Okay, well, listen, I said I'd be on there for 15 minutes. It's been a little bit longer than that. I hope you've really enjoyed it. I hope that you've learned something about why you should have a fan base, why you should cultivate them, and...
I've just realized you might've not been able to see. I've just showed you the back of my hoodie, I'll get my T-shirt, because I'm just looking on my phone and it's a little bit lower. There you go. Hopefully you can read it.
Now, listen: if you have any more questions, cause I'm going to sign off, please leave them in the chat and I will check back and I will comment and you'll get that back. Also, please share this episode if you really enjoyed it. I hope you did. Like it! That'd be great, because it helps with my social media on YouTube. I'm trying to grow my YouTube channel, so that's really cool, and, best of all, subscribe and I will notify you of my next episode, which is tomorrow, actually.
Tomorrow, I am going to be speaking about why musicians get killed by sound. I'm going to be talking about why you really should have your own PA system or sound equipment, things like that. Even if you're not technically minded, it's good to know, because at one stage or the other, I'm sure you're going to get someone who's booking you saying: Do you have your own PA system? Or: Can you bring in your own PA system? And you'll get that if you're doing pub gigs, if you're doing weddings, if you're doing funerals, church events, birthday parties, you know, events like that. You're going to get people asking you about bringing something in, or you might choose to bring your own in. We're going to ,talk about that as well.
Okay. I will see you tomorrow. It's lovely having your presence with me. It's made me feel right at home, even though I'm at home. Thank you very much, and leave questions there, and I will see you later.