Key lessons from musicians can help your business thrive

March 14, 2019

Both successful artists and bands have learned how essential it is to engage their fans. Their fans don’t simply bring recognition they also bring financial success, in what is one of the most competitive industries.

There are useful lessons that business can take from musicians. With the right approaches, you can forge more meaningful relationships with your audience and keep them engaged with who you are and what you do, without large budgets.

It starts with your core identity and aims. You need to stay grounded – and take every opportunity to tell your story and promote what you do. But you also need to allow space for audiences to share their own stories and desires.

What can you do to bring rock star success to your business?

Be authentic

Marketing is becoming increasingly story-led. Artists, brands and businesses need to show an authentic picture of who they are and what they stand for. For example, the National Geographic engaged 350 million global followers via storytelling content marketing on social media – stories are that powerful.

But it’s not just about your story – you need to be able to talk to your audience in a way that shows you want to listen to theirs too.

A good example… when your fans are getting fed-up with ticket prices, availability and secondary sales do something about it.  Ed Sheeran did.  He went out of his way to ensure tickets to his shows were only available through reputable ticket exchanges.

Develop community

User generated content platforms are driving conversations between fans and artists/businesses. We’ve all seen how powerful fan communities can be on social media platforms such as Twitter. It is important to focus on creating your own niche community around your identity.

Take Lady Gaga for example, her fans or ‘Little Monsters’ as they are otherwise known are made to feel like part of her entourage.  They benefit from exclusive access to pre-release tracks, priority show tickets and much more.  In return she receives near unconditional loyalty, and which artists (let alone brands) can claim that?

For example, forums have served as a place to bring music fans together in the last decade, but now these are evolving into more sophisticated online communities. is one example of a music community that is following the model of TripAdvisor and others. Fans can upload their reviews, read others and have a place where they can buy tickets, all reviewed by like-minded peers whose opinions they know they can trust.

Any space that offers a sense of exclusivity and give audiences control over what they see and sold to them will keep people engaged.

Make friends with data

There are many ways you can use technology to understand your audience’s online behaviours – and you don’t need to employ any shady or privacy invading tactics to do so. Remember, anything you or they publish digitally is a tool to discover what your target audience responds to, enabling you to anticipate future patterns trends in more granular detail.

Some tools that will help you measure and monitor audience behaviour include Google Analytics, and Amplitude, a platform that allows you to track user response trends in real time.

Be generous

 Don’t just give everything you’ve got in the hope that people will return the favour! It should be employed with restraint, and there needs to be some benefit to you. Free content and services are powerful means of showcasing what you are about and giving people the feeling of being a valuable part of the club.

For musicians it can be a difficult balancing act – open access can help you get a viral hit and a loyal following, but you have to be paid for what you produce. Whether you’re a musician or a business – remember, it’s also much harder to roll back and begin restricting access to your content when you started by giving things away for free.

There are a few big success stories of artist’s having been discovered through giving away content; Carly Ray Jepsen, Shawn Mendes and even Mr. Bieber himself, but there are many many more not so successful stories whereby providing free music via streaming platforms didn’t provide the big break the artist was hoping for.

In some cases, it can even lead to a backlash, for example U2 gave away their album ‘Songs of Innocence’ free on the iPhone 6 – and it caused a massive backlash and didn’t generate the additional sales they had hoped for. In fact it was a classic example of devaluing the product as Paul Quirk chairman of the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association explained, “This vindicates our view that giving away hundreds of millions of albums simply devalues music and runs the risk of alienating the 60 per cent of the population who are not customers of iTunes. How can we really expect the public to spend £10 on an album by a newcomer?”

It’s the same with business, giving your product away for free doesn’t mean it will reach the masses, it just devalues the product.  Ever heard the brand slogan “reassuringly expensive”?

But not over-generous

Don’t just give everything you’ve got in the hope that people will return the favour! Use restraint as there needs to be some benefit to you. Free content and services are powerful means of showcasing what you are about and giving people the feeling of being a valuable part of the club.

Be responsive

It may not be possible to respond to every comment on your page, but you should be paying attention to them all. Take the time to respond to as many as you can; the positive, the negative, the suggestions and constructive criticism. If you are updating your site or products on offer, share an update and explain how audience feedback and comments helped to drive your decision. And if your community is not yet forthcoming with opinions and ideas, show you want to hear from them by conducting polls and asking questions – this can be easily done on social media channels, blog posts and via email campaigns.

Trailers and sneak previews are a great way of giving your nearest and dearest fans a taste of what’s to come, whetting their appetite so-to-speak.

And remember, if you leave them wanting more, make sure you’re responsive enough to follow up!

Personal communication

In an instant message age, communications direct to a personal inbox have more resonance. People don’t want intrusion or ‘salesy-speak’, so don’t bombard them daily with your latest offers. Do keep in regular touch with well thought-out messages telling them something you know they will be interested in.

Where applicable this can also be employed with direct mail – used thoughtfully and with a specific purpose, it can be an effective tool for grabbing attention away from the digital noise. Communication shouldn’t come through just one channel; the conversation needs to continue offline, online, in store, at live events, and through product and service development.

In the digital age your customers don’t want to be passive they want to be engaged. An engaged fanbase are both your cheerleaders and brand ambassadors. Let them help you make your business even more successful.


Mark Jennings has worked in digital publishing and advertising his whole career. He previously worked in the US and UK for the Financial Times, he most recently launched the digital portfolio for Last Word Media. Mark Jennings set up Subba Media with the aim of disrupting the publishing market. is a fan generated music and festival reviews platform. Built from a strong loyal community, the content is produced by music fans and festival goers, enabling artists and brand sponsors to reach a new, more engaged audience.


Twitter: @subbacultchacom



National Geographic engaged 350 million global followers via storytelling content marketing on social media

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