“Through the very act of asking people, I connected with them. And when you connect with them, people want to help you. It’s kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists — they don’t want to ask for things. It’s not easy to ask. … Asking makes you vulnerable.”
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer was released last week. The book, based on this viral Ted Talk from 2013, continues the conversation about establishing an authentic artist to fan relationship. Palmer made international news when she raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter when her initial goal was only $100k. She did this by asking. The challenge for most artists is get over the insecurity of asking for help. But when you trust people to help, the truth is that they often do.
In today’s hyper-connected world, directly connecting with fans is easy but developing an authentic and trusting relationship takes work. You can’t just have a one-way conversation so using social media to purely sell your music isn’t going to work. Engaging with your fans and communicating through your music, videos, and words will lead to their honest feedback and financial support.
Not sure where to start?
-Ask a question: Have fans help decide what songs to play at an upcoming show or suggestions for activities in the next city you stop at.
-Launch a contest: Give your fans a chance to participate in design contests, attend meet-and-greets, or even win merch giveaways. Contests allow you to both promote your band and give back to fans.
-Comment on world events or news: Join a trending conversation, it keeps your content fresh and relevant.
Whatever you say should reflect your personality and who you really are; posts that sound like a press release won’t do much to help create a connection.
Now it’s time for the ask. In the last few years, the idea of patronage has become more popular with direct-to-fan models seen in platforms like Patreon and PledgeMusic and sites that promote tips like Noisetrade and Bandcamp.
At Set.fm, we have a combination of those. An artist can decide to sell their set or give it away for free. Fans have the option to support the artist and give them an additional “tip” for both. We’ve seen that when bands promote their Set.fm recording and ask for support, they make a significant amount off of tips. Austin-based duo The Ghost Wolves are an example of an artist that successfully promotes their recordings and aren’t afraid to ask for support. Try it next time and let us know how it goes!
For all of you in Austin, Palmer will be speaking and signing copies of her book at Book People on November 24th. RSVP and find more details here!