Value Your Fanbase: Marketing Lessons from Taylor Swift

Value Your Fanbase: Marketing Lessons from Taylor Swift

Last week Taylor Swift pulled her music catalogue from streaming service Spotify.

The merits of that decision are being debated in the media with regards to the future of the music industry, as well as the business brand of the artist, and of course, her fans.

It turns out there are important marketing lessons to be learned from this for mainstream businesses like yours and mine.

Lesson #1 – Grow Your Audience

If you are not familiar with Spotify, Rdio, and other music streaming services, they deliver popular music for free or a small monthly fee. This introduces the artists’ music to a broader audience that is willing to tolerate a few ads, or pay to make them go away.

Spotify is like Groupon for musicians. You are investing in an opportunity for expanding your audience by renting one that is ready-made. Taylor Swift fully recognizes she doesn’t need Spotify because she has already built a massive audience. Your business needs the same.

Any artist or business that fails to build its audience will forever be dependent on paying to rent the audience of another media company.

Therefore, use social media and every other channel for what it can do for your business, but develop the intention of building your own audience to control your destiny.

Lesson #2 – Fans Want to Be Owners

The criticism of streaming music services like Spotify is that they reduce music sales by allowing subscribers to rent the music, for free or nearly so. I disagree.

These days people have been conditioned to try before they buy. It’s actually a new way of positioning the money-back guarantee – without any strings attached.

There is a big difference between renters and buyers. True fans are buyers. Ownership gives them membership to a club of like-minded people. They are proud to be owners.

To be clear, even if one pays for a premium membership with Spotify, it does not own the music. Yes, it can download it, but that pseudo-ownership comes with a price: It can only be accessed by the Spotify app and will go away if the subscription is cancelled.

People want to own anything that gives them pleasure, so there is little risk in giving them an opportunity to try it before they buy.

Lessson #3 – Your Loyal Customers are Fans

One of my customers taught me to always be thinking of what I can do next to help all of my customers. He encouraged me to never stop sharing product or service ideas – anything that adds more value.

Imagine if Taylor Swift stopped creating new music. What then? My guess is it would change her tune about Spotify (OK, yes, pun intended). That’s not likely to happen soon, because she is intensely focused on the fans that are aligned with her brand.

Taylor Swift’s decision to remove her music from Spotify honors her relationship with the fans that value it enough to pay to own it.

That said, I believe there are ways Spotify could have been a valuable partner, such as offering an early release of selected music for a limited period of time.

Fans always buy. Remove the risk and grow that fanbase.

Note: Since this published, Spotify has defended its position as a supporter of paid media, as opposed to free and pirated media. Regardless, when all is said and done, the one thing that doesn’t change is media in all of its forms is in demand – and that includes what your business publishes.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

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Community Value: How to Grow Your Business Audience

This Old New Business Podcast with Jeff Korhan

This is Episode 12 of This Old New Business weekly business podcast with Jeff Korhan.

John Lee Dumas has built a spectacularly successful online business in a very short period of time.

He is best known as the founder of EntrepreneurOnFire, a daily podcast show launched just two short years ago that is now approaching one million monthly downloads, not to mention earning millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Out of that vibrant community, John and his team have created additional communities that are profitable micro-businesses in their own right.

If you want to grow an online community that supports your business, then listen in as John shares how a singular focus on community value makes everything possible.

Our Featured Guest: John Lee Dumas

Community Value: How to Build Your Business AudienceJohn Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire, a top ranked podcast named “Best in iTunes 2013”.

John interviews today’s most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week, and has been featured in Forbes, TIME and Inc. Magazines.

He is also the Founder of Podcasters’ Paradise, a community where podcasters learn to create, grow, and monetize their podcast.

#1 – Unleash Your Journey to Success

Success in any endeavor is largely the result of the energy and enthusiasm you bring to it.  For that to happen, John recommends not stopping until you find the one thing that unleashes your full potential.

For John this aha moment was discovering the lack of a daily podcast show for helping aspiring entrepreneurs like himself.

After more than 700 episodes of sharing the inspiring journeys of successful entrepreneurs, John still gets fired up every day by talking to amazing entreprenurs. Their successes, failures, and aha moments feed the appetite of the entire EntrepreneurOnFire community.

#2 – It’s All About the Community Value

The surest way to grow an audience is adding value that helps the community to accomplish more. Listening to the EOFire community, John discovered many want to learn how to create, grow, and monetize a podcast. As a result, Podcaster’s Paradise was born.

This podcast is a result of my being one of the first members of that community that is now over 1,400 strong. In addition to learning from the educational content John and his team provide, there is invaluable interaction among the majority of members on the private Facebook page.

#3 – Build Momentum that Becomes a Movement

The best communties are dynamic ecosystems that support everyone equally, and that certainly holds true for the Podcast Paradisers. This international podcasting community actively provides productive criticism and support for each other within the Facebook group. It’s an invaluable resource for keeping pace with the red-hot podcasting movement.

The growth of EntrepreneurOnFire led to the birth of the Podcasters’ Paradise community, and it in turn gave rise to still another community: WebinarOnFire. Both communities were a response to the desire for premium content that addressed specific needs.  

Want to grow your business audience? Find that thing that ignites your energy and enthusism and build an audience around it with community value.

It just may become a movement that exceeds your greatest expectations.

Lighting Round Tips and Advice

John’s Top Sales or Marketing Advice – Love your calendar. Then you will have more time for providng value and growing your audience. John uses the ScheduleOnce service to accomplish this.

His Favorite Productivity Tip – Increase your focus using the Focus@Will app.

A Quote that has Inspired John’s Success – “Try not to become a person of success, but rather become a person of value.” – Albert Einstein

Key Take-Aways

  • John believes the future of podcasting is niche podcasts. Serve that audience that is aligned with what you deeply care about.
  • John mentioned  Wishlist Member as an economical WordPress plugin for creating a membership site. Wishlist Insider is the premium membership community that supports Wishlist Member users.
  • Connect with John at to take advangage of his FREE weekly podcast workshop and FREE webinar workshops every other week.

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How is your business providing value to its online communities?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+