Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Lesson In Fan Relations: Jason Mraz

So many musicians rely on social media and Web 2.0 tools (2 way communication) to connect with their fans.  Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, a personal website or perhaps even the tired "Myspace Music" account. (Hopefully you are not using the latter as a sole tool for connecting with fans.) With any type of public relations, advertising, or marketing there are many tools that musicians and labels alike are able to utilize, and at a fair price. But there comes a time when everyone is "on board" so to speak with these types of tools and soon enough these outlets are bombarded with users who have accounts "just to have them." It's at this point when we separate the "men from the boys," and true success stories can arise.

As we know with these tools and trends, anyone can hop on the bandwagon first and really derive success, and in many cases it involves little to no strategy when you are one of the first.  John Mayer is a great example of this type of success.  Mayer was one of the first to really utilize a webpage to spread his music virally. Many were discovered and offered lucrative record deals during the initial years of "MySpace Music." But now in a flooded network it is harder and harder to stand out and really use these tools to connect with fans and not use these tools just to "sell." Bottom line is that when the strainer comes through the flood, only a few artists are smart and strategic enough not to slip through the cracks.

Jason Mraz, is an artist (whether strategic or not) who has utilized web 2.0 to it's fullest and continues to do so daily. Throughout his success, Mraz has broken the mold of the stereotypical shift into major label status by continuing to make decisions and create media that feels (for lack of a better word) "humble." He does so through:
  • Breaking the mold of the "album release." He continues to release acoustic EP's, cover songs, unreleased music and live DVD's in-between albums. The latter, always involves documentaries of him interacting with fans and behind the scenes. You can never negate the power of giving the average joe an insiders look. A musicians career is "mysterious." Straining some of the mystery for their enjoyment can pay off immensely for an artist, and it has for Mraz.
  • Most importantly, Mraz utilizes Facebook, in specific, at least daily and uploads a variety of content, that allow him to get closer and closer to his fans.
Above all, the content posted is in tune with his lyrics on his records rather than the price tag on them. In other words, Mraz uses social media to get closer and create relationships that feel more personal to his fans rather than to "sell" to them. From a musician (or business) standpoint, the "sell factor" is essential but should never be your focus. Once a fan arrives at the perception you are being merely promotional, you have lost them, and for your sake, hopefully not forever.

As advice to budding musicians and professionals alike: Take notes on the the web 2.0 strategy Mraz has in place. We can't be sure it is a planned strategy and perhaps his presence is an genuine accident. But for those of you taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter or another applications hoping for instant success coupled with free and easy public relations, don't use it "just to use it." Remember, anyone can buy ad space on a billboard, but not everyone can write a successful advertisement to put on it. Think strategy before throwing yourself amidst the social media "flood."