Every artist should own Scott Kirsner’s book Fans, Friends, and Followers. It’s a practical, well-researched, and easily read guide for cultivating an audience and business model, chock full of examples and interviews with filmmakers, visual artists, writers, musicians, and the like. You can download a sample here.
Kirsner, a writer whose work appears in The New York Times and Variety, also runs the CinemaTech blog, a frequently updated and often useful set of posts about innovation in the film industry.
Recently, Kirsner hosted a roundtable on how filmmakers are building fan bases and we found, by substituting a few nouns and verbs, advice that is applicable to any visual artist. You can listen to the audio here or download it here. Good background material.
As a public service we highlight below some of the key points that emerge in the discussion. Nothing earth shattering, but a good checklist to compare yourself with.
In no particular order, and saving the three most important for last:
Own your blog. Drive everything from and to it.
Participate in social networks. Be present.
Deliver a constant stream of bits to your fans. Frequency counts. As a corollary…
Work “sharing” into your everday routine. If necessary, kit yourself with tools that amplify your work. For instance, a blog post should automatically be added as a note to Facebook and be tweeted.
Be other places. Guest blog, run contests on industry sites.
Give your fans something to do; participation deepens the relationship. They cited a singer who ran a contest to find a backing singer for a new track.
Bring your fans with you. Going to a festival or have a signing? Flash mobs baby.
Attention isn’t action. One thousdand followers may translate into 5 people who actually “do” something when you need it.
Cultivate the 5 people who do something.
Look for new spaces to participate. Getting in early enables you to secure a niche and grow as the service grows. (cough*storybird*cough)
The three most important ones:
Be Google-able. Own a phrase that’s easy to remember.
Own your list. From day one, start building an email list. Regardless of what happens to Facebook or Twitter or MySpace, your list is your list. It’s how you activate your base and stay in touch.
Promotion is half your job. Almost 50% of your time should be spent promoting. (Note: having friends, fans, and followers means that they can help and reduce YOUR role to 25%.)