A common misconception of direct-to-fan strategies is that they are somehow reserved for under-the-radar bands with less-visible results. Not so. Done correctly, direct-to-fan campaigns can be just as effective-if not more so-as a major label release.
Take the English ska band Madness. Their 7th studio album - “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da” - debuted at No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart on 4 November 2012. That’s a top-ten charting album, released on their own, on the back of a campaign done entirely direct-to-fan using the Topspin platform. And it’s a typical example of how artists who are willing to take control and work on their own behalf and their fans can reap notable rewards. Madness is not unfamiliar with the concept of control. They founded two record labels-Zarjazz Records and Lucky 7 Records-and even ran their own studio back in 1985, so using the Topspin platform to self-manage their album release campaign wasn’t a big step. But artists don’t need to have this same level of experience to follow in their footsteps. Here’s how they did it:
- Shortly after the announcement of their new album, but before its release, the band offered a free download of the song “Death of a Rude Boy” from the upcoming album. They placed a Topspin Labs HTML5 widget on their blog that allowed fans to submit their email in exchange for the free download.
- This widget was prominently featured on their website, an important component for anyone pursuing this strategy, and as a result garnered over 10,000 email signups.
- They followed up with exclusive content. Fans could pre-order special edition 4-disc version of the album directly from the band’s website. The special edition is packed with exclusive content, including a first ever live performance DVD and Oui Oui Ouija board game artwork.
Direct-to-fan doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, at Topspin our goal is to make it easy. It just required smart planning, focused execution, and genuine passion. Combined, it can be the foundation of an artist’s career, one that opens up new possibilities for fan communication, commerce and creative freedom.