4 Ways to Treat Your Music Fans like VIPs

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This guest post was written by brian botkiller.

Voice-mail, Vlogs, VIP treatment, and more!

Probably the hardest thing as a musician is figuring out how to promote your music to the masses. We all know that we can make great music, but how can we get people to hear it?  This article isn’t about promoting on twitter and Facebook  – at least not in the usual ways.  This is about coming up with unique ways to promote your music and find new fans.

First off, don’t’ talk about yourself all the time.  Talking only about yourself on social networks won’t keep people’s interest. Pay attention to what they say. Respond, retweet, like, interact!  Then, when you promote yourself, you may find that they’re more interested in what you’re talking about.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  Host contests over social networks, offering up cool stuff beyond just free downloads to people who share the news about your band.  Free mp3s are fine,… but what about signed CDs and custom merchandise? Remember, your music is only a very small part of your band’s brand recognition.  It’s your main product, but not your only product.

Fans love it when they’re treated like VIPs.

So how can you give fans that VIP treatment?

1. In the case of my band, Vertigo Venus, we opened up a Google Voice hotline (which you can call or text anytime at 505-750-VENS).

It was simple; open a Google account, signup for Google Voice, and link your voice account to a cell phone – it’ll have to be one of your bandmate’s, of course. And then, one big thing; set the voice account to “do not disturb” in your preferences.  This will assure that your phone doesn’t ring off the hook or get millions of text messages, but you’ll still be able to get texts and voice messages in your voice inbox.  You can offer up cool stuff to fans who leave the most inventive messages, texts, and things like that.  And then, you can ask them if it’s ok to add them to your mailing list!  Best of all, Google Voice is FREE.

2. Another VIP treatment we’ve come up with is writing songs for your fans – this is something I haven’t seen done before.  You can pick your favorite fans and write short songs about them for free (remember the ones that come to your shows all the time – reward them!), or you can ask fans to donate money to you to record the song.  Maybe one of them needs a song for their girlfriend?  Tell them to go to you for that!  You can make a lot of headway in this fashion, and give fans the VIP treatment.

3. Try out a subscription based model for your music.  In our case, We call it “Vv365” – and for a small subscription fee, paid per year (with discounts for buying more than one year), a fan gets all of our music in digital download format, both previous, and new releases, as well as one-offs, studio cuts, and other special offerings. They get music before everyone else this way, and they get the red carpet treatment for new music.  You can set this up in Paypal pretty easily, and find a great way to work with fans in ways most others are not.

4. Other ideas include making custom art for fans, setting up promotions with local clubs (see if you can tie in with their email newsletter if you offer to do some footwork and flyer for their business), and making a webcomic about your band’s escapades.  Have fun with promoting, and think about the kind of things that you have fun interacting with!

This isn’t everything you can do (the possibilities are endless), but all of these ideas are things you can offer up to fans to help promote your music and your band.  Use these ideas on your Youtube (vlogs!), Facebook, your blogs, Tweets, and your newsletter. Remember, connect with your fans!  Talking to them means that you’re a real group of people.  Tell them about what you’re doing as a band, keep them interested.  They’ll thank you for it, and you’ll see your fanbase grow – and in the long run, that’s your goal!

Sell your music on iTunes. Sell your music on Facebook. Sell your music everywhere!

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Zordonikus

    Very imformative information! 🙂 Thank you cdbaby!!!

    • Thanks for reading my article, it was fun to write 🙂

  • Krunal Vaghela

    Thos blogs must have been interesting!

  • Plord99

    How about if cheese is not part of the aesthetic that you're going for? How could my respectable cheese free act write songs for their fans

    • big man

      if your "cheese" free act is so respectable then why you lookin for tips to make "cheese"
      cheese face

    • My act is quite cheese free, thanks – and we came up with this idea. You can write songs about your fans in plenty of ways. Get to know them, and you’ll learn that. thanks for reading my article.

  • Chemical Voyage

    Good info, simple to execute!!

  • Cheleanne2003

    Very cool info – imaginative and inventive!! I wish I had thought of it all first!! Any more ideas…keep'em comin'!! 🙂

    • Thank you! Glad to help! Thanks for reading my article!

  • Well, I personally agree. As in, for my own art. But I also don't rely solely on my music to pay the bills. I think if it were my main gig (but not with millions of fans) I'd be careful about my creative decisions.

    • Daveman

      yes, the buy-one-get-one-free-car-wash-approach is much talked about. i think the artist themselves should be genuine and not go too hard on sales in person. so get someone at your gigs to do the hard sale. have an agent to have the client-based approach where it works (if it works). but don't just believe that presenting "mr nice guy" turns onto record sales automatically.

  • Like, you want to get them locked in at $20/year at the merch table? I'm not sure how to do that legally speaking. I'm assuming you grab their email, which serves as some kind of username granting access to your stuff? If so, you might just have to write folks once a year when their subscription is about to renew and ask for another $20 (or give them a deal if they purchase a few years at once). But yes, if you hear of an easy solution, let us know.

    • Simon

      There are database apps that can do that, although I have not used them nor know the name of them. But look around, or approach a college student to build one for you!

    • VosikaProject

      Paypal has a subscription button to paste on a web page.

    • Hello Friends! Here in Argentina we have a payment shops chain, I think it's Rapipago: They have a printed cards system: For a cheap fee, thet print your name (Band, Enterprise, etc.) on thet cards, so you can distribute them "live" to your fans. They make a payment in a shop of that chain, presenting that card you gave them (free, if possible), and then they pay the annual fee for your project. That payment is associated to your bank account (only the chain knows it) an with a little discount the chain make the credit there.
      I beg your pardon for my English!

    • … I pointed it out, in this article. It’s perfectly legal. Paypal offers a recurring payment model. If you’d like, I’ll write up the part on how to do this and you can append it to my article.

  • Good ideas here. I’m working on a subscription set up to launch next year. Have you found and easy way to do recurring charges for in a live show/merch table situation? That’s the last piece of the puzzle for me. Then I can offer them my DVD for $20 or everything I’ve ever done for $20/yr.

    Love the Google voice idea too.

    • Yes, I have built up a way to do this; Paypal has a subscription based model which you can use – read thru the ways that you can make use of their payment system. Then, check out the page I used it on: http://www.vertigovenus.com/store/vv365

      I can implement it at the merch booth using Square payment apps on my phone, getting a customer’s information, and then giving them a digital download card or something of that like.

      Good luck to you, contact me if you have questions, and thanks for reading my article!

  • Sunworx

    It’s always about the artist giving away stuff. The idea is to make money. Some limited give away’s are useful; but, a constant drain on artist revenues is not the way forward. Get real!

    • While I agree, you’re looking at this from the perspective of giving away physical things all the time. Face it; your music is maybe ten percent of your total reach with your band now. Giving away a free mp3 isn’t going to wreck you. Oh, and, the model of “give away what you can for free”, does work – I know this, because I use it. Thanks for reading my article 🙂

  • Barbara

    Thanks so much love this info!

  • Singerhayes

    I began taking photos of fans at gigs and posting them on my FB artist page.( with their permission of course). They love checking themselves out on my page. : )

    • Nice! That’s a great idea. Thanks for reading my article!

  • Pask74

    Interesting ideas… but I don’t know what to think about this client-based mentality applied to music.
    I think artists should ideally be free to express their ideas without first thinking “are my fans/clients going to like it ?”.

    • Hey there, I wrote this article, thanks for reading 🙂

      As a musician who does pay his bills with his music and talent, I can tell you that I have to have this mentality. While I agree that yes, it would be nice to be able to have everything be “about the art”, that’s not the world we live in anymore. If you can enjoy your art without having to monetize it, that’s good – but if you want to make money off your art, whatever it may be, you have to consider what it takes to make that happen.

  • Very good ideas! May I contribute? Thank you: I’ve been commited to write, play and record a CD about our Argentine Bicentennial Emancipation Year. My “mecenas” were the professors of the School of Law at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. So, as a bonus for my work, they gifted me 200 issues of “Matria” (that is my work), at no coast, obviously. Now, I make special presents with that material, to the Best Fans in the World (my fans, of course … I guess you all mates have a similar club, haven’t you?). Then, at no coast, I get a gift for my special people, as a way to recognize their support.
    Have a nice 2012!

  • A very simple thing to do is make sure to try and respond individually to every message you receive from fans. Even if it’s only a couple of words, just acknowledge you’ve taken the time to read and respond to that person. Then they’ll feel like less of a fan and more of a friend.

    I also try and engage fans in the creative process – I’ll often use Twitter to ask what to write a song about, or which of two cover designs is best. Again, this turns your supporters from passive fans into active contributors. Not only that but you can find real inspiration in the suggestions of your fans.

    In short, keep the conversation with them going whenever you can!

  • Tony

    Well, unfortunately, in my opinion, the music scene today has become a who's who of social media. Some of the worst music I've heard lately, again in my opinion, has come from 'artists' who are wizards at social media, but leave a lot to be desired in writing music. Not a lot of substance. I also don't believe in involving, in any way, 'fans' in the creative process. I have never once written anything wondering if people will like it. You do what you do and HOPE that people will like it. You have to be true to yourself and your style. Are you suddenly going to change your style because someone says you should do something different? What if you don't like the something different they're suggesting?

    I do think, as Dan said and as long as you are able, to respond to messages from fans, but I'm not going to ask them how I should write a song. I'm really only interested in one thing; do they like the song or not. It's a simple yes or no, without any analysis. Most people can't tell you anyway why they like or don't like a song. They just like it or they don't.

    • Kosho

      Hi Tony,
      I really get your point, and essentially I think and act in similar ways. On the other hand it can be a nice challenge and learning experience to get creative within a given frame, may it be some fans’ idea or the basic idea for a particular songpitch or something special you need for a certain film music/scene in a movie…it does not necessarily mean that you would be wiping out your special aesthetics just because you are trying to donate something to a certain idea, project or even fan request.
      But basically I think I understand, it is mainly about how far do I want to go to meet someones ideas or taste. It is good for our soul to do just what we love when it comes down to keep the access to our most precious treasure…

      All the best,


  • I offer a FREE year calendar, with pictures of the artist (me) and have been getting great responses 🙂


  • Responsible Johnny

    I love doing the fan song thing – about twice a year we’ll pick one of our fans and write a song about or for them. always a blast, and they keep coming back so they can hear “their song”…

    • Nice! We have written about 12 so far, and they really love it. Thanks for reading my article!

  • Simon

    There is a LOT about giving stuff away. And I think to some degree it is ness. but not to give everything away. I agree that we need to make a living doing our art, and for the fans that DO pay for our art it is nice to recognize them and give them something special. There is this feeling out there that art, no matter what it is, should be free. I think it comes from everyone wanting everything for free, but the arts get hit first with it (and the first to get cut backs too)! Much of this 'greed' ends up as corruption. But gifting to those who are ardent fans and Real Supporters is a good thing.

  • Simon

    CDB Admin has a point. Look at artists (painters etc) who actually do THEIR art for themselves. There is a lot of other work they do to pay the bills, like portraits of people, their pets etc, because bills need to be paid.

  • vinnyvin

    I just came from a gig las night, and the fans the bought our tickest that have been following us I bought some of them a round of drinks, a bit costly but can be a nice and greatful gesture for them to come out. also give shout out to them on the mics when performing works wonders. Vinnyvin lead guitars Seclusion Void.

  • Debbie Schrodt

    I see some artists giving free song downloads….how do you give a free download? Does cdbaby or host baby have a way to do that?

    • Yep. Just set your track's selling price to zero.

  • That kind of subscription is always welcome, I think. Good initiative! It'll work out!

  • johnnylonestar

    they love the song thang
    been doing it fer awhile and at every gig and all impromptu all night long

  • johnnylonestar

    also lemme add it is not fer everyone

  • MrsKateC

    I put out a monthly newsletter for the 3,000 + people on my mailing list through My Emma. It’s very easy to personalize and people like that. I publish a lot of photographs taken at my gigs. Almost all of them are people having fun at my shows. This past month I put a really goofy picture of me in my newsletter and had a caption contest. The results were hilarious. I also have a free cd contest every month. My fans have to answer a ? about themselves to enter. That way it’s interactive and I get to know them better. I really do think it’s important to make your fans feel like VIP’s. After all, you could not be a thriving musician without them! Mrs. Kate http://www.MrsKate.com

  • Chris A Yenney

    Google Voice isn’t available in Canada. So frustrating. Would be such a great asset to have.

  • transform100

    I like the songwriting for fans idea – it could be mega-creative, doesn’t have to a masterpiece or classy production. I reckon most fans would have a ball with a simple idea and some humour or kind words. Maybe it is important to be straight with them, that it is a small gesture. If it turns into a masterpiece, that’s fantastic. But I would only do it for the few, most devoted.

    I don’t believe in doing anything that is not true to yourself. I never write songs to suit others without being fully inspired myself – that’s just a dry job that could be even worse than other non-music jobs everyone is trying to avoid here, – when not my energy. But I understand that if that brings in much-needed income to support the true art, which is struggling – then it might be worth it for some.

    The photos thing – also great. Will try it on Fr.!

  • Yeah. Have fun with it. And, like you said, it doesn't have to be pro-production. Demo quality is fine for fan songs.

  • Lame! I hope it comes out soon for you. It's a very useful tool.
    Thank you for reading my article!

  • Thanks for reading it! Follow me and keep in touch!

  • Thank you! They're fun to write, please keep in touch with me!

  • Dale Leitch

    On the whole I feel that if they like you,they will like what you do anyway,they may have favourite songs or styles of their own,I know I dont like everything I do,honest but true so I dont expect others too,but staying on point treating fans like V.I.Ps,yes,keeping it genuine though is my feeling on this.I have had so many original ideas I have said I will do at concerts to stay original and innovative although I am not at that point In my music career now,I do know that when I have attended great concerts,it is a big event and its my night out, anything that the organisers do to enhance that experience makes you feel like you are quality and your choice of band/artist is a good one.