Panelists Show Musicians How to Turn Their Fans Into Guerillas

By September 13, 2011
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At SF Music Tech, companies are leveraging social media to encourage fans to spread the word about the bands they love, often with loyalty plans and prizes.

Social networks took center stage at a panel on how to make fans into guerilla marketers at the SF Music Tech Summit. Many companies are now mobilizing a band's fan base in low cost alternative methods to traditional advertising and marketing. Panel moderator Catherine Enny is CEO of Guerilla Management. Previous to her current position, she promoted artists since the nineties, and started a company during that time to mobilize fans across the United States to do street marketing such as flyering,all before social networks.

Many of the companies represented primarily power themselves through Facebook users, diversifying these fans' options of interacting with their favorite bands through other means than simply liking the band's page. Jeff Marois of FanRank designed a loyalty app where the fan process incorporates game mechanics - "Likes," posting comments, retweeting or @replying all earn points which win "biggest fan" status. Bands can also determine rewards such as merchandise or content.

Aaron Ray represented TheCollective, an organization that also represents actors, directors and other artists. TheCollective monitors Facebook fans, and builds and oversees other digital assets for bands such as Linkin Park, Counting Crows and others.

Ethan Kaplan is a former VP at Warner Music Group, was the founder of an unofficial Web site for REM back in circa 1996, and now owns Coming from a high school hobby fan site for a a band that did not yet have its own site, Kaplan was able to become familiar with musician brand management from an early age. Later, as a major label executive, he found that with the advent of social media, the level of buzz generated could be built up indefinitely - until the album comes out. Nowadays, the goal is less about selling records - artists more often make money from tours and merchandise, but a new business model could be emerging where bands are paid based on how many Facebook fans they have by third-party corporations that will sell branded items - Cheetos with a band featured on the packaging, for example.

The general consensus is that fans will do a lot for contact from the band or peer recognition. FanRank encourages a huge amount of fan content with the promise of "top fan" status, which can be seen by the fan's friends, or a note from the musician. In one promotion, a DJ would perform at the winner's house, and the result was hundreds of thousands of social media posts - a huge amount of free publicity. FanRank also launched a badge system, similar to Foursquare.

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