Why behaving like a successful musician is the key to business success

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
Mark Jennings, Subba Media

Mark Jennings is CEO of Subba Media, which he set up with the aim of disrupting the publishing market. Subba-Cultcha, run by Subba Media, is a fan-generated music and festival reviews platform. Mark tells us what aspirational business leaders can learn from the most well-known musicians in the industry.

For businesses to succeed, they need to look around and learn from the experiences of sectors that might be very different to their own. Finding new customers and then keeping them is crucial - it's why turning to the music industry can provide both inspiration and practical guidance.

After all, in order to be successful, bands must engage their fans. Fans bring recognition, of course, but they also bring financial reward. They help the band make money and enjoy continued success in one of the most highly competitive industries.

There are useful lessons that businesses can take from musicians. They’ll help you forge more meaningful relationships with your audience and keep them engaged with who you are and what you do, without necessary needing a large budget.

Here are seven tips that you can use to engage your customers and make your business more successful:

1. Be authentic

It starts with your core identity and aims, so stay grounded. 

Marketing is increasingly story-led. Artists, brands and businesses need to show an authentic picture of who they are and what they stand for. Take every opportunity to tell your story and promote what you do - and don't forget to allow space for audiences to share their own stories and desires.

Authentic people ask questions and open up conversations. As in daily life, these conversations will be multi-genre, may be political, and won’t always relate directly to what you do, but they'll show your values and identity. Avoid sitting on the fence. 

A good example - when fans are getting fed-up with ticket prices and availability, musicians need to do something about it. Ed Sheeran did - going out of his way to ensure tickets to his shows were only available through reputable ticket exchanges. 

2. Create a niche community

User-generated content platforms are driving conversations between fans and artists or businesses.

We’ve all seen how powerful fan communities can be on social media platforms such as Twitter. It's important to focus on creating your own niche community around your identity.

Take Lady Gaga - her fans, or ‘Little Monsters’, are made to feel like part of her entourage. They benefit from exclusive access to pre-release tracks, priority show tickets, and more. In return, she receives near unconditional loyalty. 

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran showed how much he believed in his fans

3. Befriend data 

There are many ways you can use technology to understand your audience’s online behaviours - and you don’t need to employ any shady or privacy-invading tactics to do so. Remember, anything you or they publish digitally is a tool to discover what your target audience responds to, enabling you to anticipate future patterns trends in more granular detail.

Some tools that'll help you measure and monitor audience behaviour include Google Analytics and Amplitude, a platform that allows you to track user response trends in real time.

4. Show generosity...

You want to incentivise your following and give them rewards for their presence - for example, competitions, exclusive first samples of new products, or follower discounts on merchandise.

For example, Radiohead let their fans decide what to pay for their album ‘In Rainbows’ - showing fans they cared about them, and that their relationship wasn’t just about money. 

Work out what's most appropriate for your business at this stage. To increase your email database, perhaps provide an incentive to sign up; if you want to encourage more word-of-mouth brand ambassadors, use merchandise.

5. ...But don’t go wild

Don’t just give everything you’ve got in the hope that people will return the favour! Use restraint, because there needs to be some benefit to you. Free content and services are powerful means of showcasing what you're about, and giving people the feeling of being a valuable part of the club.

6. Engage in direct communication

In the instant message age, communications sent directly to a personal inbox have more resonance. Don’t bombard people daily with your latest offers, but keep in regular touch through well thought-out messages featuring something they'll be interested in.

Where applicable, direct mail, used thoughtfully and with a specific purpose, can be an effective tool for grabbing attention away from the digital noise. The conversation needs to continue offline, online, in-store, at live events, and through product and service development.

7. Take the time to respond

It may not be possible to respond to every comment on your page - but pay attention to them and take time to respond to as many as you can. When you refresh your website, or the products on offer, share an update, explaining how audience feedback and comments helped drive your decision.

Show your community you want to hear from them by conducting polls and asking questions - easily done using social media channels, blog posts and email campaigns.  

Trailers and sneak previews are also a great way of giving your fans a taste of what’s to come. It's always good to leave people wanting more, though this does mean you need to be ready to follow up!

Your customers want to be engaged. An engaged fanbase will provide brand ambassadors and cheerleaders for your products and services. Create strong relationships with your customers and let them help your business grow.