My longtime friend Cristian China-Birta (a.k.a. Chinezu, “The Chinese”) is doing a case study of the “brand” idea in the music industry on his widely popular blog.
Cris is a top social-media personality in Romania, with dozens of successful projects (ranging form charities to promotions and marketing) under his belt, including events with the music industry.
So he knows what he’s talking about.
Using Romanian rock band Byron to illustrate his case, Cris lays a “10-must do” list of things for a band (or artist) to build and maintain a quality fan base.
I am reproducing the list with his permission.
Here is what Cris had to say:
1. THE MUSIC.
This is obvious, because one needs to know, can & be willing to play serious music in order to build a community of engaged fans in time. Byron excels at this point.
2. THE PERSONALITY.
Having personality in music means, by the mind in my head, exactly two things. ONE: differentiate from others, and TWO: no major compromises. Useless to say Byron has a unique sound, and their only compromise is making no compromise, musically.
3. THE UNITY OF THE BAND NUCLEUS.
To understand better this point, let’s look at Metallica and Rush, bands with little to none personnel fluctuation. These are examples of monstrously success – success due in part to the fact that they stayed together for a long time. Byron does a good job compared to what happens in Romanian music biz.
Seeing Byron live or on TV, or (even better) sharing a pint or two, you know the boys are great. As a matter of fact their individual charisma, and theirs as a group, was decisive for my decision to become their friend. Or theirs to become my friends -)
5. GOOD PR.
Nothing to add here. Iulia (Byron’s PR) does a great job, rarely seen in this industry. Every time I see an email from Byron I smile and I am happy to get some funky idea for collaborations between bloggers and a rock band.
6. THE “OUT OF COMMON”.
I just want to give you three examples of events Byron did, events that are defining for the way Byron understands evolution. I had the great pleasure to organize a concert for bloggers by Byron – exceptional event! It ended up that way because the band was open to the idea of a concert for bloggers only, because the band really got into it, and the bloggers got the same feeling. Next example: the concert in the fantastic setting of the salt mine of Turda– a chef d’oeuvre from any standpoint, a tremendous effort in terms of music, logistics and personal sacrifice. Few bands could’ve done it, and Byron did it. And finally let me mention the Impromptu series, where the band made their rehearsals with public in a club, allowing outsiders to witness Byron’s alchemy.
7. RECEPTIVENESS TOWARDS THE FUTURE.
Maybe it’s not a big deal (I’d like to know though how many bands did it), but Byron launched its own Android and iPhone apps. They pay attention to what happens around them, and act. They launched their latest videoclip exclusively via the blogoshpere. On other occasion they had a competition where the bloggers wrote the scenario for another clip. Dan (Byron’s singer) sang along with me the “Spammer’s Balad”, and did it in a way that many will remember. The fans were able to “buy with a tweet or on Facebook walls” the new songs. And the list goes on…
8. AVAILABILITY FOR INTENSE AND LONGER EFFORT.
Sounds like a gym class, but those that were in a nation-wide touring band know what I’m talking about. Fans expect you to be fresh and in good mood every night. Same stands for rehearsals and recording sessions. Generally speaking, to reach a high level of professionalism, and stay there, you need to be able to sustain the efforts on all levels: intellectually, emotionally and physically.
9. CONNECTION WITH FANS.
Few bands have real fans, the ones that stay with you a lifetime. So when you have them, better know how to keep them. That doesn’t mean you have to send’em Christmas cards . Rather offer them what they expect from you: your music, news, your presence as a band. If there are 2 years since everybody heard from you, they will be dissapointed and stop loving you – or the band’s brand – the way they loved you in the past (whey you loved them, too).
10. GOOD MANAGEMENT.
I left this decisive point at the end, because many bands do the same. At their own expense. No matter how good you score on the 9 points above, you need a manager to get value out of them .