Tag Archives: fan base

Why Milestones Are How We Reach Our Dreams

Vision. Milestones. Perspective.

Looking forward to the future and doing a combination of goal-setting and forecasting of what lies ahead, taking into account outside influences and things you have absolutely no control over.

Looking at the big picture and the future of what lies ahead, combined with the aforementioned goal setting, is one of my gifts. It’s what helped propel me into the radio industry at the ripe age of 16, into creating a radio/media property at age 21, turning that property into a business and converting a “project” into an entrepreneurial element at age 26, then setting out on my own to take on a new career outside of the radio industry to work as a coach and mentor for folks like me in the creative business space (musicians, entrepreneurs, startups, etc) at age 32.

Today marks not only a new day, but a place on the map of my future vision that will bring a new set of accomplishments of goals and achievements with it.

MeByAbbeyRoadSignI turn 34 today, and I’m writing about that because aging has been something that I look forward to instead of dreading. I want to share with you the fulfillment and successes of my journey up to this point, a few philosophical lessons learned along the way, and tell you what I hope to achieve in the coming year. As you know, community building is the mantra I live by, and as part of not only my community, but our growing group of creative entrepreneurs, I want to open up to you about the steps taken to get to this point, and the ones I want to reach in the coming year.

Call this accountability or transparency. These things matter.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

You’ve heard this phrase before. I used to not pay any attention to it when teachers at school or mentors in my life would say this. It was one of those things I could imagine Mr. Miagi tell Daniel in the Karate Kid or Yoda tell Luke as he trained to be a Jedi, but never really thought it applied to me. However, it doesn’t matter how old you are, the wisdom here is still on point. Yet what if we modified the phrase to have a little more practical application. What about this:

“Life is a series of milestones that lead us the destinations we choose.”

I don’t believe we have to settle for one destination in life. You can choose to have one truly huge, magnificently giant dream and work all of your life to achieve it. However, to reach that big, giant goal you’re going to first reach some milestones along the way. Consider a milestone to be markers that indicate that you’re making progress and give you some direction for how to move forward.

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I'm in my 30s now)

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I’m in my 30s now)

I mentioned briefly some of the milestones I’ve had up to this point. At age 16, like any teenager I was excited to get my driver’s license and drive all over town. But looking back that wasn’t the pinnacle achievement of that year. Becoming an on-air DJ on a college radio station while I was still in high school is what I remember as being the pinnacle of age 16. That experience planted seeds in me about what I believed radio had the potential to be, how it could impact the lives of indie and unsigned musicians, and it showed me the skills needed to do radio as a professional. That experience gave me what was needed to become an announcer at public radio station KACU as an incoming freshman at age 18. There hadn’t been a freshman walk in their door with radio experience and a resume that showed on-air and production credit up to that point. I’ll always remember age 16 as reaching that milestone.

TARSLogoTM2014Fast-forward to age 21, which we all have different degrees of fondness for. That was the age I was when I had this seemingly strange idea to make a radio program that played different genres of music from known and unknown artists, all in the same hour. The show wouldn’t follow a format of just rock or just folk music or just jazz. I paired songs that flowed together, or that I thought flowed together. And it stuck. In a little over a year, The Appetizer Radio Show was becoming one of the most talked about programs by the supporters of the station, leading to some positive feedback and later an interview with the Dallas Morning News. That would segue into the start of taking the show to other stations for carriage (syndication). Syndication would lead to turning the show into a business and a myriad of other achievements. It all began with that milestone at age 21.

TARS10thAnnConcert-LindsayKatt-ElliottPark A little over a decade later and a whole lot has happened. The Appetizer celebrated its 10th birthday in 2013 with a live concert at a historic theater in our hometown of Abilene (The Paramount Theater) featuring indie music sensation Lindsay Katt and Billboard #1 songwriter Elliott Park. That was a great milestone for me because I’d never organized and put together a live concert on my own before, but achieved success for all parties involved by utilizing strong community engagement and bringing together a powerful team of people to help make it happen. There were a lot of lessons learned in that process, and it certainly created a platform to do more live events that drew the greater regional community together.

As I enter this new year and transition into casting a vision for what I want for the next several years, the game has changed a lot, not only in regards to media (radio, online, streaming services) and music (both from the standpoint of musicians and the music industry), but also the landscape for how to succeed in the creative marketplace. I came into the world of self-employed coaching from spending over a decade in the nonprofit realm. It’s still an adjustment that I’m getting used to, and there have been a lot of lessons learned in just 2 years. Moving forward I want to achieve two big goals, which will create two big milestones to reach.

One goal is releasing the first in a series of books I’m working on that delves deep into providing a road map and guide into community building, starting with unsigned and DIY musicians (and those on the indie music circuit). Community building is the same as growing your fan base but it includes so much more. It’s the combination of your super fans, your fringe audience, the people who help get your music to other people in other places, and the people who help grow your outreach. It takes a community to succeed, and I’m currently writing a book that not only illustrates the practical steps to achieve this, but highlights some real life musicians who are doing this right now.

I’m going to take that framework and apply it to other books that will show entrepreneurs, startups, and nonprofits how to do the same thing in their fields and regions.

That’s a big vision to have, and some very serious milestones to reach.

DGrant-SpeakingOnStage

 

The second big piece of the vision is taking that message to the streets, and doing speaking engagements that teach individuals and groups the key elements they need to not only build strong fan bases, but cultivate powerful communities of support for their music. Again, this is big picture vision casting, and I am sharing this with you because what I’m building will impact your world. I want you to know what I’m working on so that you can benefit the most from everything I have planned.

This is how I’m going to be spending my 34th year.

BoJacksonOn a side note, another reason I’m excited about turning 34 is it was Bo Jackson’s number when he played for the Raiders. Bo is my all-time favorite athlete. We also share a birthday, which makes it extra special. One of these days, I want to be able to meet him. That will be a milestone for a different time, and one that I can’t see clearly at the moment, but believe strongly to be possible.

What are you milestones for this coming year? As we enter the end of our calendar year and have 1 month left in 2015, share with me the milestones you’ve had this year and what you’re wanting to do in 2016. Let me know in the comments below.

Keys To Building A Focused Audience

Image by  Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Image by Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Get Insights On Focused Fan Growth: Sign Up For The Free Webinar Here

I wrote previously about the difference between trying to gain 100,000 Twitter followers (or simply a giant group of music fans online) and focusing your time, energy and money on a specific group of people. Numbers are a big sales point that most people are looking to increase, but when your focus is on the wrong number for the wrong reason, you don’t win as much as you want to. Here’s why:

You need to grow your audience to be able to keep making more music. That’s a bottom-line reality every musician and small business faces. And yes, you are a small business once money enters the equation. A focused group of fans is much more powerful than a giant number.

The confusion between real, prosperous success and fame (or what is considered “success” in young markets) is an obsession with the wrong kind of number.

Let’s say you have 10,000 Likes on Facebook. For some artists, that’s a small number, for others it’s a goal they’re still trying to reach. In either case, how would you view a band who has 500 Likes on Facebook or 600 Twitter followers? You might consider them to be rookies, newbies, or not very good musicians because the number of followers is small. But what potency does the 10,000 have that the 500 doesn’t other than sheer volume alone? You don’t know, because all you see is a number of followers.

Image by Dave Catchpole

Image by Dave Catchpole

This obsession with the high number without knowing much about WHO is in either group is what’s wrong with musicians and bands trying only to grow the number-base of their audience without trying to grow a specific group of people who are prime fans for their work.

You can buy Likes and followers on any social platform. You can purchase enough “followers” to make it seem you have a substantial fan base when reality tells a different tale. So how powerful is that giant number now, or better stated how real is it?

What the number metric misses is Potency, or strength. This factor is key to success in the short and long term of your music career. Potency is driven by real connection with a focused group of people who are passionate about the unique aspects of your music. Artists and bands with incredible potency include KISS, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Shins. Their fans go out of their way to showcase how much they love these bands including costumes, fan made documentaries, and traveling large distances to see shows.

Think about it in terms of two very popular and potent brands: Apple and Microsoft. Chances are you are using one of these brands right now in some capacity. Mac users are hardcore, passionate and extremely brand loyal. Most PC (Microsoft) users will go with whatever maker or brand they feel like who runs the software they’re used to, be it HP, Sony, Dell, etc. Yes both are powerful brands. But where Apple’s user base may be smaller in size compared to Microsoft, it’s more than compensated with user (customer) potency.

Can you say the same thing for your fan base?

If 10% of your fan base shares your content with their friends (be it online social posts or old fashioned word of mouth promotion), you have a really strong connection with your fans. That’s a high conversion rate for most bands and small businesses. What if only 1% of your fan base is an evangelist for your music? That’s still a good portion. But when a fraction of a fraction of 1% is talking about you, that big number of your fan base that you brag about isn’t as powerful. Actually, that’s more indicative of what your true fan impact is.

Focus on connecting with a specific group of people, a targeted section of folks who make up your Ideal or Super-Fan group. This is the potent, focused group of fans who will increase your music success a lot more powerfully than an arbitrary number of followers online.

How can you grow your connection with a targeted group of people? The strategies and tactics for doing that are outlined in an upcoming webinar. Sign up here.