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Buying Fans vs Earning Fans

November 6, 2012

A disturbing trend which I have noticed is the rise of companies offering to deliver fans in exchange for money. An even more disturbing trend is that bands are falling for it.

Whether you are buying Facebook ‘Likes’, Twitter ‘Followers’ or YouTube ‘Plays’, I’m here to report that you are not only wasting your time, money and resources but you also being suckered into believing the mass marketing hype that numbers are all that matters. Perhaps most disturbingly, as with most forms of marketing, these companies are feeding off your hopes and your dreams all in exchange for a quick buck.

I should also clarify that I am not talking about hiring a company to help you market your band, album or tour. I am very specifically attacking services which offer or guarantee a specific amount of likes, followers, or plays in exchange for a specific dollar amount. A general rule is that anyone who guarantees you anything in this volatile music climate is almost certainly full of shit and only after your money.

A quick google search yields this:

If you’re asking “What’s wrong with spending $100-$200 on buying fans if I’m reaching a new audience?” let me answer with this: First, you are not buying fans, you are buying likes, followers or plays. And most of the time, those likes are not from real fans, but from computer programs and spam bots. Secondly, you are being sold on “taking the easy way” instead of thinking of creative new ways to reach and engage your potential fans.

If you have a $100-$200 to spend on building your career and want new fans here’s a list of better uses than hiring one of these companies:

  • Invest that money into promotional CDs, stickers, buttons, magnets, etc… and give them away to potential new fans
  • Go to other shows, pay cover, buy other bands’ merch and talk to people there.
  • Offer to take a few industry professionals out for dinner and drinks to discuss your musical career
  • Take a few lessons in your field to better improve your craft and/or live show
  • Buy drink tickets at the bar and give them to your fans who show up early or people who come over to the merch table.
  • Get your band name tattooed visibly on you
  • Buy a megaphone and run down the street yelling about your band

Although the last few are a bit “out-there” I still believe they’d gain you more fans, attention, etc. than paying some bot to watch your music video 10,000 times or getting 5000 bots following you on twitter.

At the end of the day your band should have money to invest in marketing and gaining new fans BUT needs to be diligent on how you spend the money and should have a reasonable expected return on investment. Plus, as the artist, you need to make a direct and sincere connection with your fans if you actually want them to support you, give you money and help champion your career. If you’re trying to buy fans through a third party instead of earning them on merit, you don’t really get fans, you just get numbers.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2012 2:54 PM

    Josh – As a music fan, I can attest to your first suggestion being successful: “Invest that money into promotional CDs, stickers, buttons, magnets, etc… and give them away to potential new fans”. Couple of examples 1) Christina Martin – everytime I see her, she is giving away something (ie. postcard). She is also very pleasant to speak with. I will buy everything she releases and go see her every chance I get. 2) Matthew Pickup – saw him for first time opening for Tim Chaisson / Poor Young Things. He was great, but had no merchandise. When I asked him about CDs for sale, he went back stage and got one for me – wouldn’t take any money. Awesome guy, who now has another paying fan for the extent of his career.

    Also found that being nice to fans/potential new fans helps…and that doesn’t cost anything.

    Enjoyed talking to you briefly at Matt Mays. Thanks for the “free” stickers with purchase. I have my Matt Mays t-shirt and The Meds CD and have given away the stickers to a couple of friends for their guitar cases so they can display.

  2. January 11, 2013 11:57 AM

    Here’s a great read about buying youtube views:

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