A couple weeks ago, Phil Antoniades (our co-founder) spoke on the How to Build Your Fanbase panel at the Artist Management Conference. In this video excerpt he describes how Ellis Paul used the Nimbit Direct-to-Fan Platform to engage his fans to provide 130k in funding toward the recording of his album “The Day After Everything Changed” Check it out:
Earlier today, Mayor Thomas Manino of Boston proclaimed July 9, 2010 “Ellis Paul Day” in the city of Boston. As one of Nimbit’s earliest and most prolific artists, we couldn’t be happier.
Congrats Ellis!!! And check out some fantastic music at www.ellispaul.com .
Online Sales (2009): $19,683.26
Contributed by Fans (2009): $100,000
Bio: Ellis Paul is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician.
To date, he has released 16 albums and has been the recipient of 14 Boston Music Awards. He has published a book of original lyrics, poems, and drawings, and released a DVD that includes a live performance, guitar instruction, and a road-trip documentary. As a touring musician, Paul plays close to 150 dates each year and his extensive club and coffeehouse touring, together with radio airplay, has brought him a solid national following.
Inner Circle: 300 core fans
Outer Circle: 10,000 fans purchasing any new release
Total Reach: 100,000 fan interactions throughout career
Goal: Create a direct to fan relationship with 100k fans that he can sell/promote his new release “The Day After Everything Changed”
Strategy: Solicit core fans to raise funds for recording album. Phased exclusive rollouts direct to fan prior to official 1/12/10 street date. Engage the loyal core fans in the promotion process to maximize new fan capture, reactivate casual fans, and build pre-release buzz.
Step 0: Engage fans on Facebook via FB fan page and via mailing list, website, etc
Step 1: Set up unique and compelling sponsorship levels ranging from $15 – $10,000
- Street Busker Level – $15
- Antje Duvekot Level – $100
- James Taylor Level – $250
- Neil Young Level – $500
- Johnny Cash Level – $1,000
- Joni Mitchell Level – $2,500
- Bob Dylan Level – $5,000
- Woody Guthrie Level – $10,000
Example: $1,000 “The Johnny Cash Level”
• Receive an advance copy of Ellis’ new CD personally signed and numbered; including a bonus disc of demos and outtakes of the songs
• Antje Duvekot will personally sign a copy of her recent release “Big Dream Boulevard” on Black Wolf Records
• You and a friend will be put on Ellis’ guest list for an Ellis Paul show of your choice
• Limited edition signed EP of Ellis performing live in the studio at Boston’s WERS
• One Year membership to Club Passim, the legendary folk room and Ellis’ home venue
• Ellis will thank you by including your name in the liner notes of the CD booklet
• Ellis will handwrite and illustrate lyrics to any one Ellis Paul song of your choice, which will be suitable for framing
• Limited Edition 11x 17 signed and numbered cover artwork from the new album which will be suitable for framing
Step 2: Send advance copies of new album to every contributor with a personal note and a download card to pass along only to people they knew that are/could become a “true fan.”
We would like to thank you for your investment and support of Ellis and his music. We are confident that this project will be one you can be very proud to be a part of.
There are great perks that go along with your investment and we look forward to sending out the new CD’s, organizing your guest list spots and all the other items you should receive based on the level invested….
Thank you for your support, we look forward to a fun ride getting Ellis’ new music recorded and out to you.
Ralph Jaccodine (Ellis’ Manager)
Step 3: CD goes on sale exclusively from website and Facebook (Nov-Dec 2009) No digital album available. Free single download offer available directly in the online store using download codes to track success of promotions and events.
Step 4: Album art features image of picture of Ellis over a lake with a vintage guitar in his hands. Some people think it’s a fake, but it’s from an HD video. Creative team and Nimbit decide to post video on YouTube (http://bit.ly/4nOAMo) and spread the word around social networks creating viral buzz. Over 6,000 views help drive traffic to website, increasing sales and exposure.
Step 5: Put download card into all orders of the CD encouraging purchaser to share the music with a friend.
Step 7: Early digital release and promotion with Amazon MP3 (12/15), start radio and press interviews. EllisPaul.com offers a better, more compelling package than anywhere else which both drives fans to Ellis’ website and increases sales.
Step 8: Digital street date, 1/12/10
“We awakened fans that had been disconnected for many years. Fans that had not been to see him in 10 years were now coming out to shows and getting reconnected with all his work.
Many donors were just waiting to have an opportunity to help him financially. We made sure they had several copies to spread the word. And the higher contributors get as many as they want to give away to people. We do feel we are spreading the music in a more unique and efficient way. If Ellis was on a record label, we’d have buy the disc from the label at $7 each. Because the CD costs us so little to manufacture with Nimbit, we’re able to market the CD more rapidly and at lower cost. Nimbit’s Facebook app, download cards, and other direct to fan platforms helped us get to more of our fans quickly and easily.
Through Nimbit we’re able to get Ellis Paul’s music exposed to more people.”
–Rachel Klein, Manager of Marketing & Promotions, Ralph Jaccodine Management
D2F-U Part Two: Applying D2F to a new release
The D2F-U skill sets are all focused on creating an ongoing cycle of giving your fans reasons to engage and reasons to buy. Whether you engage the fan or get a direct sale first, it really doesn’t matter. Once you create a direct sale, it takes only a few simple D2F-U skills to create a life long relationship that you own! Finding the balance, and maintaining a regular cycle of engagement and reasons to buy, builds fan loyalty and grows your business. Growing your business means you get to have a career doing what you love.
Is it really that easy? Yeah, it is. If you create great products, the rest is easy by comparison. Keep in mind that all content can be of value to you. Fans devour content, so you need a lot of it around to keep them engaged. Never throw anything away or decide a track shouldn’t be finished because it doesn’t fit an album.
Think of content going into a couple of buckets. The first one is content that you will sell. The second is content that can be used as a reward, gift or premium for your fans that buy (think: keep your fans engaged). And the last is content that you’ll give away to draw in new fans as well as keep old fans engaged between purchases!
A new release presents one of the best opportunities to jump right into the cycle of engaging your fans and giving them reasons to buy. Again, just keep in mind that you need to do both, over and over again!
Start before you’re ready! (WTF? Well that’s D2F-U thinking!)
- Before you begin a new recording consider fund raising through your stores.
- This is an excellent example of engaging your fans and giving them a reason to buy all wrapped up in a neat package.
- Ellis Paul used his storefronts to raise $130,000 to make a record, before he got started!
- Don’t just ask for money. Create levels of engagement where fans get something in return: name on liner notes, dinner, house concert, a song for them, executive producer credit…Time to get creative.
Take your fans along for the ride
- What may seem embarrassingly stupid or simple to you can be fascinating to your fans.
- The process of creating and recording is a great place to engage fans.
- Share the little things that motivate or fascinate you.
- Share rough tracks or a rough track as it moves through the process
Become a Tease
- Start teasing the music through the process.
- Build anticipation. This is an event.
- Release a demo from pre-production. (it’s ok if it sounds like a demo)
- Share what you are comfortable with. (album name, song choices, etc…)
Keep it real.
At D2F-U we cannot stress enough how important it is to be as real with your marketing as you are with your music. Solid D2F marketing requires the same disciplines and creativity that are used to create amazing music.
You can’t bullshit a new song and you can’t bullshit what you’re sharing with your fans. Be as light or as deep as you are comfortable with but never try to manufacture comments or blogs. Be real.
The rise of social networking has given fans a sixth sense for online bullshit detection. With any emotional relationship, you risk breaking that bond when you wade into the world of bullshit and you’ll have a lot of trouble getting them to ever trust you again.
Look at it this way, share what you’re comfortable sharing and comes naturally. No more, no less. But remember: you must share, you must connect. That’s all it takes to create reasons to engage.
While it’s an honor just to be nominated, it’s far more fun when you win. Last night, at the oh-so-swanky Liberty Hotel, four Nimbit artists were big winners at the Boston Music Awards. Like any proud parent (or music industry blog) we couldn’t be happier for them. Check out their sites, buy their music, go to their shows, and remember, support local music!!!
And the winners are …
Album of the Year: The Low Anthem (“Oh My God, Charlie Darwin”)
Folk Act of the Year: Ellis Paul
Rock Act of the Year: The Upper Crust
Singer/Songwriter of the Year: Will Dailey
The voting was fierce, and tomorrow the results will be announced. In the meantime, good luck to the following Nimbit artists: Amy Fairchild, Erin McKeown, Will Dailey, Antje Duvekot, Ellis Paul, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Upper Crust, Racky Thomas, State Radio, Club d’Elf, Low Anthem, Elan Trotman, Jesse Dee, Eguie Castrillo, Kris Delmhorst, Eileen Jewell, and Lori McKenna.
We’re breaking out our powder blue tux for this most special occasion…
See you at the BMAs!