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How to Develop a Strong Fan Base For Your Band
by S. Marmolejo

In this new era of developing digital, virtual relationships with fans, it's becoming more important to understand what fans truly want. Fans today want to feel like they know you personally. They want legitimacy. They want to be able to take an authentic look at the people behind the music they enjoy.

Personality, genuineness, a real look at the people behind the music... These are the thing that move the casual fan to consider themselves true fans of a particular person or group.

How do bands keep their fans connected, making them feel as though they matter to them on a regular basis? What are some of the things that bands or pop stars have done to make sure their fans realize how important they are? Some bands do it better than others. Here are a few notables that stand out.

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH announced their winter tour with a special twist for their female fans: The first 100 ladies in line get in free at every show. That's right! This January and February, ladies are to receive the special "Five Finger Discount" at all their scheduled venues.

Five Finger Death Punch is a heavy hitting band based out of Los Angeles known for their completely house wrecking live performances, and they have used that energy to earn the right to be called one of the most influential bands of current metal music.

Newcomers to the scene just three years ago, Five Finger Death Punch now treat every stage like their personal dojo, destroying all that would stand between them and success. Because of that level of commitment to excellence in all they do, they now play to mad dog loyal fans, who they lovingly refer to as "Knuckleheads," at sold out shows, are the headline act at major festivals and have built a world wide fan base that any band a decade older would be envious of.

Rising L.A. rock band BLACK VELVET DELUXE employs their signature fan appreciation every show; giving ladies deluxe gifts in black velvet pouches. Though they never announce what the gift will be before the show, prior concert gifts have included jewelry, Victoria Secret's cherry bomb lip gloss and the band's favorite perfume for their own ladies. After all, what woman doesn't love these items?

Black Velvet Deluxe, still soaking up the accolades from being chosen among the top 12 indie rock bands to watch in 2010, takes you straight back to rock's pure roots. Great hooks, mesmerizing drum beats, driving chords & powerful lyrics pay homage to the pioneers of sleaze rock. New fans are lured in and die-hard rock fans are intrigued as Black Velvet Deluxe redefines raucous, gritty rock-n-roll.

SIN CITY SINNERS has quickly become one of Las Vegas' favorite local rock bands, and with good reason. What started out just a couple of years ago as just weekly "let's have some fun" jam sessions at a local dive bar, has sky rocketed into SRO shows that regularly treat their fans to surprise appearances from some of the hottest musicians around. On any given night, you are apt to find Gilby Clarke of Guns N Roses, Bruce Kulick of Kiss, Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns, Simon Wright of AC/DC, or a myriad of other musicians and performers joining Sin City Sinners on the stage.

You might be surprised to learn that the band has one hard line rule for any place it performs. Their shows must be free for their fans. Las Vegas' own SCS are more than a just a high-end cover band jamming with mega well-known industry friends. They are more than just from Vegas. They really are Vegas. They really rock from a place that is becoming Vegas' own music scene, and when they release their first album this February, even more fans will burst forth to join the party. Their original material purely rocks.

Pop star LADY GAGA treated her fans to $1,000 worth of Papa John's pizzas while they stood waiting in line at a West Hollywood Best Buy for her autograph. A huge number of people had gathered at the Los Angeles area Best Buy, where she came to promote her second album, 'The Fame Monster'. The 23-year-old star decided to treat her fans with pizza so that they wouldn't get too hungry while waiting in line. "Sending all my little monsters little pizzas for waiting all night for me at Best Buy," she Tweeted. "I hope you're hungry... eat up I love u!" The CD signing at Best Buy took place on November 25, 2009.

BONO has won numerous awards with U2, including 22 Grammy awards and the 2003 Golden Globe award for best original song, "The Hands That Built America", for the film Gangs of New York.

He is among the mega stars to nearly always stop to sign a few autographs, and chat for a bit with some fans. This tends to be based on whether it is a swarming mob scene, in which case he usually does the wise thing, and waves while diving into the waiting vehicle, or whether it is a small, more manageable group, and that is when he will spend some time giving of himself.

During concerts he attempts to intermingle with his fans as much as is feasible and is known for pulling members from the audience up onto the stage or moving himself down into the audience. This has occurred during numerous events including the Live Aid concert in 1985 where he jumped off the stage and chose a woman from among the masses to dance with her as the band played "Bad", and in 2005 during U2's Vertigo Tour stop in Chicago, where he pulled a boy onto the stage during the song "An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart".

Bono has often allowed fans to come on stage and perform songs with the band.

Fans of U2 and Bono at their recent '360 Tour' at the Fed Ex Field in Washington, D.C. in September 2009 were given an exceptional and unanticipated delight. As Bono sang his landmark hit "Sunday Bloody Sunday", Amp Singh Bains of New Jersey, a fan that Bono spontaneously selected out of the swarming audience and invited onto the stage, joined him and two together belted out the song over a single microphone, to the obvious delight of the sold-out stadium. All the while he sang, Amp waved an American flag that Bono handed to him as he helped the fan onto the stage.

THE BLACK EYED PEAS made their Grammy Nominations Ceremony preparations a total interactive event involving their fans on December 2, 2009, by inviting webcams to tag along with them backstage at the occasion.

The band had arranged to carry out their preparations live for websites Ustream.tv and Dipdive.com and invited fans to 'tweet' them right up until show time. During all the pandemonium backstage, Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am turned impromptu interrogator and grilled the Jonas Brothers and rapper T-Pain in their dressing rooms for any last minute behind the scenes info.

The massive hit maker also answered casual 'tweets' from fans, and even asked them to help pick out his clothes for the nomination announcement show.

During the first 15 minutes, 12,000 fans signed on to watch will.i.am and his band mates "taking you places you ain't supposed to see," backstage at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Mixing soul, jazz, and even a little country twang, Harlem's CARLA LYNNE HALL is a singer/songwriter doing pop music her way. The Manhattan Mirror has described Carla's music as "Norah Jones meets Sade for tea on their way to visit The Beatles". A visit to Manhattan's Hayden Planetarium inspired Supernova, the title track of Hall's third CD, released on her independent label Moxie Entertainment. From the spellbinding "My Body's Keeper" to the feisty "Left Side Blues", Hall's Supernova brashly confronts such diverse topics as friendship, addictions, and motherhood, and gives an ideal platform to the captivating vocal style that has garnered comparisons to Roberta Flack and Sheryl Crow.

One way Carla shows her fans how much she truly appreciates them is by creating one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments for them. Carla gathers a selection of photos of herself, and then cuts them into holiday shapes, (Christmas trees, stars, dreidels, etc). She then laminates the photo cutouts, or places them between sheets of clear Avery labels, and then trims away the extra plastic. After punching a hole at the top, and stringing ribbon or yarn through the hole for hanging, these charming ornaments are ready to hand out all during her holiday season concerts, to pleasantly surprised and grateful fans.

SISTER HAZEL is an alternative rock band based in Gainesville, Florida, whose style fuses elements of folk rock, pop and southern rock. Even with seven albums to their credit, band members Ken Block, Drew Copeland, Jett Beres, Ryan Newall and Mark Trojanowski have never felt the need to develop rock star egos. One way Sister Hazel has continued going strong over the years is their unique relationship with their fans, the most zealous of who are called Hazelnuts. They have a reputation for never turning away a fan that has been waiting for an autograph and they are always available to take photos with every fan after every show.

Sister Hazel is known as a song driven band, but I defy you to check out a live show and not be blown away by their sheer musicianship. Ryan is a fiend on guitar, Ken and Drew harmonize just about perfectly, Mark is one of the most dexterous drummers around, and Jett is the kind of bassist that bands dream about finding. Sister Hazel is going to have an enduring career in rock music because they are they are true entertainers and they care about their fans.

Well, no rock star or band may ever surpass Elvis in the "treat your fans right" department, but giving away over 200 Caddies is extremely generous.

In these days of virtual friend lists, maybe bands should take special notice of their fans when they have some time to spend with them in person. A small gift, special access to insider information, caring about their needs, these are all great examples of musicians who really seem to care about their fans. And when bands care about their fans, the fans care about the bands.

Rock Mamma owns several companies which serve the Rock and Roll community through music education, band management, marketing and promotions. Black Velvet Deluxe is one of several managed by Rock Mamma. If you'd like more information about this band, or to schedule an interview with the band members please contact 651.327.4498 or e-mail stacey@rockmamma.com

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