In celebration of this week’s news that Andrew W.K. was — and then was not — going to be the US’s cultural ambassador to the Middle East, I thought I’d post a list of party tips that I learned from him at CMJ. Andrew W.K. joined a bunch of reps from RockStar Motel to talk about how to harness the power of motivated fans. Although most of the crowd was there to see him, I’m just drawn to anything about working with fans– of course, having him on the panel was definitely a bonus.
Moderator: Yasi Salek, culture writer who once tried to woo Michael Cera.
Panelists: Lance Mercer of Lance Mercer Photography; Luca Sacchetti, ex-rock star and founder of RockStar Motel; Riccardo Zane, General Manager at BlastRadius and Marketer at RockStar Motel; and Andrew W.K., The King of Partying.
Party Fan Engagement Party Tips From Andrew W.K.
1. “If you’re throwing a party, it’s a lot more enjoyable if other people are there.”
This isn’t an age in which artists are grand mystical, creatures anymore. Fans and artists have a mutually beneficial relationship; they’re equally important to each other. Sure, fans can’t have your music without you, but you can’t share your music without fans. (This is especially true for artists looking to crowdfund their albums or tours.) Let people in.
2. “Don’t develop as you go– beyond the natural progression of growing. Start with as much of a vision as you can.”
Definitely a common theme of this blog. Before you jump into being the next big thing, envision your band, your brand, your album cover, your vibe. Having a vision will help you make better choices when your decisions start to be bigger or more important.
3. “I wouldn’t have gotten into the entertainment industry if it was all about the music. There’s an opportunity for all creative aspects.”
Part of me wishes I could say that I bought albums or concert tickets solely because of the music, but that just isn’t true. I will buy (or at least, listen to) albums based off their covers, buy singles because I like the music video, and buy concert tickets for bands who put out mediocre albums because I know they have a crazy light show or a lot of energy. Music is important, but it’s not the only reason your fans like you.
4. “To me, being here at CMJ is my new single. There’s just as much to talk about for publicity.”
Hypebot published an article yesterday by Benji Rogers of PledgeMusic that claimed that the traditional “conversation” between artists and consumers is “pre-order my album/buy my album/have you bought my album?”
That isn’t enough nowadays. In fact, it’s boring and when it comes to entertainment, being boring is even worse than being bad. Let your fans know what you’re up to, especially when you’re not trying to sell them anything.
5. “Ask [record labels]: this is what I’m doing, do you want to be a part of the adventure?”
One of the aforementioned big decisions you might have to make is whether or not to sign to a major label. If you your vision and goals are clear, then you have a lot more negotiating power when it comes to record deals. Don’t treat record labels like they’re the enemy, but don’t compromise the things that are important to you. It’s okay to say no to a label that doesn’t “get you.”
6. “Instead of asking people to help, recognize the people who are already helping and take it to the next level.”
The first rule of crowdfunding is you never ask people to help. Depending on your natural cheesiness, you ask them to get involved or to come with you on this adventure. So that’s the first part. Secondly, you have a better chance of fostering a community of people who are already superfans than to convert casual fans into the kind of people who will pre-order your albums, fund your tour, etc. Appreciate both sets of fans, but give the first group the chance to get as involved as they want to be.
7. “Let the aesthetic that feels more natural to the artist drive everything. There’s power in inaccessibility. There’s space for all approaches. If you have a manger/label, have them do [your social media] but make sure it’s clear that it’s not the artist.”
Labels frequently run into the problem of artists not “getting” social media. Maybe they don’t see the importance of social media or maybe they’re just genuinely guarded. Either way, work with what comes naturally. Don’t force an active social media voice if that isn’t the way your artist interacts with people in real life.