In an ongoing theme from last month when we talked about bringing humanity into the music business, this month let’s talk a bit about loyalty. Loyalty is a pretty basic concept and is really the heart of all good, long-term human relationships. It is also the key to both personal and business success. It’s a sadly lacking quality these days. If we are to fix the music industry, we’re going to need more.
In a study published last week, a California ethics institute surveyed approximately 30,000 high schoolers from across the United States and found that 65% admitted to having cheated on a test in the last year; 45% had plagiarized from the Internet; 35% had stolen physical items from a store! The conclusion of the ethics institute was that Americans are being raised with too permissive an attitude toward ethics; they are less and less able to tell what is right or wrong; or they simply see no reason to care. This mentality has a huge effect on what you’re up against as an Artist or music industry professional.
Consider your role as an Artist or professional: You too have to generate the goodwill and the connection to instill loyalty in your peeps.
How do you treat your fans? Giving them your work for free isn’t going to get you anywhere. You’ll end up with fans that don’t regard your work as valuable. Nothing free is worth much. Do you respect them? Do you give them something valuable? Do you make sure that they pay for what they get, and really, really get what they pay for? If free has no value, then Value is being so satisfied with something you paid for that you feel happy to have paid for it. And you’d do it again. That’s what you want your fans to feel. They will be loyal to the end and they will spend more money to buy your music down the road.
Just as important is how the world sees you behaving toward others. How do you show or “model” your loyalties? Consider your street teamers, publicists, managers, and booking agents. Sure, you pay them (you do, don’t you?) but you also know how hard they work for you. Do you let your fans know who they are, what they do for you, how much you appreciate their efforts? Does your web site, promo literature, EPK, album artwork feature them prominently and make it easy for fans and potential new clients to reach these professionals? Showing your loyalty to these people will only endear you to them, make them work harder for you, and as you show your fans your loyalties – that you are a real, caring person – your fans’ attachment to you will grow too.
I woke up to a local radio station PSA yesterday that said, “good music costs money”. That was it – simple, probably inexpensive, and yet loyal to artists and to the business. Here is a station taking action. Frankly, a radio station doesn’t make any money from record sales. Their motivation is simply promoting loyalty toward music in their audience. Of course they know that a healthy music industry is good for them too, but they profit nothing directly from this announcement. It’s just good business.
Consumers complain about “the big labels ruining music” to justify their own larcenous behavior which really robs artists of their livelihood. Artists complain about the “shark pit” of the music industry and how hard it is to get by. Certainly there is validity to both. However, the real question is what are you doing about it? As an Artist or a music professional, you can influence the future by bringing loyalty into our business and into our relationships with fans. Think about what you can do this month to improve your loyalty and generate fan loyalty as well.