23 Feb How to Keep Your Audience Engaged When You Can’t Tour With Chris Goyzuetta
By Bri Stockman
*This interview is older and was in our Issue 61 magazine.
Chris Goyzuetta has been in the music business since 2006 as a concert promoter, artist manager, and booking agent. He is also currently an adjunct professor at Florida International University where he teaches multiple music business courses including Artist Management and Concert Touring.
On his podcast Making It with Chris G., he shares conversations with music industry professionals whose passion for the scene has been the driving source behind their successful careers.
I remember you teaching a model referred to as 1,000 True Fans and I don’t believe many people are familiar with it. Since I’m sure you’ll be referencing it later on, can you start by explaining what 1,000 True Fans means?
It’s a concept that someone named Kevin Kelly came up with and it basically gives you some guidelines to focus on. Most people just want millions of followers and streams, but they don’t really know why.
They don’t have any real purpose or reason besides the fact it looks cool so it’s what everyone is chasing. That’s the wrong thing to chase. This model basically states that you need to start a real business to get real paying customers, people who will invest money regularly to support the artist.
An easy number to go by is to focus on getting 1,000 True Fans who are willing to invest $50 to $100 per year on an artist’s products, subscriptions, or anything else they want to offer. This brings in an income of anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 which is a real business. If an artist is completely independent, doesn’t have a manager or agent, and they’re doing everything themselves, especially right now during COVID-19, that $50,000 doing something you love is way better than $80,000 doing something you hate. So, the focus is to find 1,000 people willing to invest in the artist’s career.
My personal belief is with billions of people on the planet, as long as you’re decent and constantly working to improve your craft, 1,000 True Fans will find you. Even after you have your 1,000 super fans, you’ll still have those other less dedicated fans that will spend maybe $15 or $20 a year so you’re actually making more than the initial $50,000.
What are the three most important content types DJs should be sharing with their following to keep them interested?
First of all, it needs to be content that is authentic and true to them. The most powerful type of content is video, then audio, then written. But if you don’t like being in front of a camera or don’t have the ability to edit a podcast or desire to produce one yet and you’re a really good writer then that’s still an art form and there’s still a desire for the written word. Write a blog post about a topic that resonates and you’re golden. That is the content totem pole for this day and age. The key to content though is recurring content.
So, the first of the three should be something that is authentic and speak it in a way that is most exciting for you; so video, audio, or written.
Then the second would be to do it consistently. Find a schedule that you can commit to. Ideally, it would be once a week or even more times a week, but the absolute bare minimum is once a month if you’re really trying to build your audience.
And three I would say collaborating with others. For interview-type podcasts like mine, for example, every interview is in fact a collaboration but, you can’t just shoot for super famous people. The lesser-known people are often the ones that are super excited about sharing it across all their platforms. Those guests are the ones that helped increase my audience more than the far more established guests. Collaboration is key, even if it’s not an interview for a podcast.
For artists struggling to develop content, what tools do you suggest to help create and organize content ideas?
I think the best strategy is just, “go.” There’s a concept called ready, fire, aim. When you throw a dart at a target or shoot a ball into a hoop you typically get ready, take aim, and then fire. But if you flip that then you get ready, fire, and then aim. What that means is you do as little as possible to get ready. Once you fire then you start aiming as you go along.
It’s important not to get too precious with content. It’s the market that decides if it’s good or not, not necessarily you. If you care about building an audience and want people to spend money on you as a fan then their opinion matters almost more than the creator’s opinion. This is of course if you want to do music as a business because I’m not talking about hobbyists. If you can’t build fans, then you can’t monetize which means you can’t create a business.
It’s all about what your audience cares about. If you think about what the audience cares about and wants, then you can build a business. But you can’t actually gauge the audience unless you’re giving them content so it’s important not to get precious with content and just start putting it out.
It doesn’t have to be great quality either as long as you’re focused on getting better with each piece of content. Maybe one week you learn to just wipe the camera on your phone, so your video content is one percent clearer. Then next time you sit in front of a large window with the sunlight shining and you have amazing and free natural lighting.
Just figure out small things to get one percent better each time and don’t over strategize. It’s easier to strategize after you launch because then you know how the market is reacting to it and you can make more specific plans and changes.
What are the biggest mistakes artists make on social media that causes them to lose followers?
One is not being consistent. Two is only posting promotional content. I think you should be 10% promotional and the other 90% should be other types of content. Three would be not genuinely engaging with people on social media. There’s a lot of artists that will just spam and say, “Hey, I saw you’re a fan of Drake and my music is similar to his so you should check it out.” That’s the wrong way to approach a fan.
Find a common ground with a prospective fan so that you can connect and build a relationship. Focus more on the relationship and allow them to organically discover your music. The exciting thing about music is discovery.
If you’re talking with someone on Twitter about your favorite artist and they then go on your page and see you make music, they’re much more likely to listen to it. Even though you engaged them first, it was about Taylor Swift or Drake or anything else, doesn’t have to be just music. Then they discover for themselves that you’re an artist and it’s way more exciting for them to listen to your music that way.
Also, especially right now, everyone is talking about politics and what’s going on around the world. It’s causing a lot of division and unnecessary altercations that wouldn’t actually happen in person. I highly encourage you not to do that unless it is a significant part of your day to day brand and you’re okay with alienating a portion of your audience.
What is your favorite social media platform for musicians right now and what strategy should they use to take advantage of it?
This is my workout analogy from when I used to be a personal trainer, but the best type of workout is the one you’ll actually do. So, the best platform for a musician is the one they’re most excited to use consistently and most excited to make content on. Whether that’s Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. It’s the one you will use and the one you will find an audience on.
There is no one size fits all. If anyone ever tells you one social media platform is the most powerful over the rest, run the other way. It’s not true. There are millions of people across all of these platforms, some even billions. It’s all about finding what speaks best to you and what you are the most passionate about creating and engaging on.
These social platforms are of course about being social so where is it easiest for you to want to be social and get other people talking? Where are they commenting and engaging with your content beyond just viewing it? That’s how you find the best social platform.
When at a creative roadblock, what advice do you have for artists to either get around it or make the most of it?
Something I am passionate about right now is studying history and philosophy. I started with American history then kept going back to see who was inspiring who and it eventually got me back to Socrates and Aristotle.
They’re some of the most amazing thinkers in history. I believe the reason they were such good thinkers is that they spent so much time journaling, educating themselves, and just sitting in silence. I don’t think we do that anymore.
It’s hard to be creative if you’re constantly bombarded by things you see on your phone. You see tens of thousands of ads and headlines and updates every single day without even realizing how much is hitting your brain. That’s overwhelming and taxing on your brain.
People back then didn’t have thousands of messages. The reason they were such high-level thinkers and even content creators (they were making content even back then with journals and books) is because they were constantly being creative.
I think by nature everyone is creative, some people are just more taped into it than others. It is like a muscle so the more you exercise it the stronger it gets. If you’re a writer, the more you write the better writer you become.
At the end of the day, if you’re stuck in a rut, you probably need to take a step back and enjoy some quiet time. That could be you sitting on the back porch and just staring at the woods for an hour getting lost in your mind and writing about what you feel. Just free write and journal. Doing that as a regular practice as a creator, I think that’s how inspiration and new ideas come.
And of course, learning. Go learn. Find something you’re passionately interested in, doesn’t have to be any current events, but that will open a new door of creativity. I never realized that until I started studying history and those are the types of new ideas you’ll come up with when you allow yourself to explore and feel.
Why is branding important for musicians?
So, I’m going to be a little controversial here and say that consistency is more important than branding. I think branding gets overhyped. People spend way too much time figuring out their brand.
I promise the musicians reading this, they’ll never have to read anything beyond this again. I mean you can, and it may improve it just a tad bit but, all branding is, is what you do consistently. If you think about your favorite artist, the first thing that comes to mind that has nothing to do with their actual music is their brand. The way they develop their brand is just by consistently doing those things over and over again.
I recently listened to a cool podcast with Tim Ferris and Matthew McConaughey. Matthew McConaughey was initially a rom-com guy. Those were the only kind of roles he played and the only script types that would come his way. Eventually, he said, “Enough. I don’t want to be the rom-com guy anymore. I want to challenge myself and do something different.”
So, he just completely stopped doing movies altogether for almost two years until scripts came across his desk that were anything but rom-com. That’s how he started getting into more serious roles and doing other things. His brand became something he didn’t want it to be so he changed his habits to turn it into what he did want to be known for.
Your behavior, what you do consistently, is more beneficial than spending countless hours detailing what colors you’re going to use, the fonts on your website, and logos. Your behavior dictates your brand. You can spend all this time painting a picture to look how you want it to look but if you get into a bar fight every time you play a show then you’re going to be branded as the idiot that gets into bar fights.
All the time you spent researching and reading books has now gone to waste because of your behavior. Your behavior dictates your brand. Prioritize being consistent in how you behave and your brand will follow.
What are some tips for artists who want to change their brand?
Consistency and time. It needs to be real. It needs to be authentic to a person. If it’s not authentic then people are going to see through it quickly and expose you. Do what Matthew McConaughey did and stop cold turkey. Then, start doing whatever new thing you want, and that thing will become your brand with consistency and time.
Nothing happens overnight. It could take weeks, months, even years but as long as you’re consistent and keep doing it over time (no matter how long because only your audience can dictate how long is long enough) then that’s how you’re going to change your brand.
You have just over six years of experience as a talent buyer. What are some key things artists should focus on to make themselves an ideal act to book?
For starters, if you are going to reach out to a talent buyer to book you for a show there are a few things they’re going to look for.
One is a short email; the eight-sentence rule no longer applies. That email needs to have links to music that they can listen to. Never attach anything. Ideally include one streaming link with streams and one video link with some views. However, that’s not all that matters.
If an artist came to me and said, “Hey, I want to play some shows in Orlando. I’ve never played in Orlando before, but I have some strategies and structure for my business. I have 1,000 email subscribers from Orlando.” I would see them as way more valuable than millions of views on a single video.
I’ve done shows with artists who have millions of followers but can’t sell a ticket to save their life. On the other hand, I’ve done shows with artists who have maybe 20,000 followers and have sold out all their shows across a region. The difference is they have real fans who want to invest in their craft. Smart talent buyers and promoters are going to know that. Show me the metrics you have for my town specifically that you want to play. That’s what I’m going to look for.
Another thing is honesty with your numbers. If you’re trying to play a market again and you sold 50 tickets, then tell the talent buyer you sold 50 tickets. Other talent buyers talk to one another and we know if someone is trying to lie about those things. It is a very hyper-specific job. Most talent buyers have done it at a high level so they can read through the lying without a problem.
The fastest way to get blacklisted amongst talent buyers is by lying. It’s better to just be honest and humble and say, “I only sold 50 tickets last time, but my goal is to sell 75 and this is the marketing strategy I’m going to use to do that. Here are some other artists in the area that want to do a show with me and this is what they claim they sold in the past at this venue they played at.” Put the work in upfront and be honest to get the talent buyer’s attention.
In a time where everyone is live streaming sets, how can DJs stand out to attract more viewers?
Well, live streams are something you offer to your already existing fans. The biggest key is being a consistent content creator and live streaming can of course be content. Dawn Beyer for example is a live streamer that makes close to $100,000 per year just from live streaming alone. But she has a whole business built around that. She has a community, subscription offers, merch, and almost daily does live streams. So, if you’re going to live stream then be consistent with it and do it at least once a week.
Most importantly is learning digital marketing. Learn what customer journeys are and what a sales funnel is. You need to know what top of funnel content and bottom of funnel content is. That’s what most marketers will try to teach you in these courses that are thousands of dollars when all you need to do is watch some YouTube videos and read some articles to get the same knowledge.
As a basic overview, run a very specific and targeted video ad for your target audience to see. Then you can create ads where you retarget those people, like on Facebook or Instagram, based on a certain percentage of watch time. Maybe they watched 50% of the video or 75% of it then you can retarget those people.
Ideally, you want to target the folks who watch 75% and keep doing it over and over. The number of people that watch 75% will change each time but the ones that do consistently are going to become your super fans. They’ll be part of your 1,000 True Fans.
It’s building a structure of having people watching maybe three to five videos and then getting them on your email list. If you go on a marketing website, for example, they might have an opt-in option that says something along the lines of “Sign up for a free e-book about the 20 best strategies to engage people on YouTube”. You need to find your artist equivalent to that.
Most music is free to access these days with streaming so figure out something creative you can offer people for free in exchange for adding them to your email list, text list, or Facebook group depending on who your audience is. Now you can take them on a journey and start selling them things.
How can artists use this time to prepare for their next live performance?
You should always be working on your craft no matter what it is to get better at it. Additionally, you should always be practicing for a live performance. Just because you can’t get in front of one now doesn’t mean you can’t get the practice in. You can still play in your bedroom or in front of your friends and family.
If you can keep them entertained and engaged, especially your friends who are more likely to give you a hard time, then that’s going to help your chops. The best way to be good is to do it. Try going live on Facebook or Instagram. Try busking out to the streets (street musician) where you can also live-stream it for an even larger audience reach.
Who are a few different artists currently doing a great job building their fan base? What specifically are they doing that’s working well?
A lot of larger artists don’t do this well. They just have the luxury of having a ton of money behind them. It’s mostly the smaller artists some people may not have heard of.
Dawn Beyer, who I’ve mentioned already, is a great one. Her top of funnel campaign is the consistent YouTube videos. From there she tries to convert them to some kind of subscription where they get more exclusive content and it’s a community. Then she offers them opportunities where they can fly her out, all paid, for her to play concerts in their house.
I don’t know the exact details for how she has it structured but it does start with encouraging people to share her live videos. She does run ads for those videos too. Then when people start tipping her whatever amount, they have to opt-in with their emails to do that so she has them on a new list where she starts a new journey that she can sell them additional experiences.
She also started selling tickets to performances at theatres where only her subscribers can purchase tickets. There are so many artists that aren’t mainstream doing amazing niche marketing like this. They’re like the middle class of the music industry that you never really heard of but that’s all they do is make money from music.
Do you have any specific resources you recommend to enhance their digital marketing strategies?
I don’t work for Indepreneur and they don’t sponsor anything that I do, but I love everything that they do. The Creative Juice podcast is excellent for music marketing. They have a course that is highly underpriced.
I would never recommend a course that costs thousands of dollars because you can learn most of that stuff online for free. But theirs is so highly underpriced. It was about $40 per month when I signed up for it so maybe it’s more now but definitely a good investment. You have access to all their courses and go at your own pace. They have so many excellent resources and tutorials for how to do these things.
I also recommend listening to their podcast and other music industry podcasts since they’re free. I Love Marketing and More Cheese Less Whiskers are both great podcasts. Also, anything with Gary Vaynerchuk is fantastic.
Keep in mind that when you listen to those, you also need to take notes to then research further on YouTube and Google. Those are the best free routes to learn digital marketing strategies.
Recently you seem to have taken on the role of an artist manager. At what stage do you think an artist should bring on a manager?
The best ways to attract a manager is what we’ve talked about with being a consistent content creator and learning digital marketing. Learn as much as you can on your own that way when you approach a manager they’re blown away and want to work with you.
The right time to go after a manager is when you have metrics to talk about. At the end of the day, money talks. Most artist managers get a 15%-20% cut so 15% of zero is still zero but if you’re an artist making $50,000 a year and they take 20% then it gives you leverage. That’s $10,000 a year the manager gets and can build on.
What are some ways people can go about actually procuring a manager?
There are a lot of artist managers that guest star on podcasts. Listen to music podcasts. Their roster isn’t what you should be entirely focused on. Maybe Scooter Braun isn’t the manager for you. He doesn’t have a hundred Justin Biebers or Ariana Grandes running around. If it was that easy to replicate for every artist’s career, then he would.
However, maybe you can be the Bieber or Grande for a manager that doesn’t have one but has the hunger and the drive to have one of those stars. A manager that knows what they’re talking about and is connected, who’s always trying to learn and educate others is going to be your best bet.
By being on a podcast they want to reach people, right? And those people will reach out to them. You can also look at books and blogs. You have to find a voice that speaks to you and your strategy. I think listening to someone talk on a podcast or written interview is going to find a better fit than just picking someone out of a list based on your favorite artists.
After attending and teaching at Full Sail University, would you recommend musicians pursue music college in today’s day and age or do you feel it’s not required with technology advancements and changes in the music industry?
I still teach at a college so of course, I have to say yes you should go. There’s still a ton of benefits to going, such as a community to become a part of with your fellow students and the depth you’re going to get with those courses.
I think the most important thing though is to look at who is teaching those courses rather than what the course itself is. What you need to figure out is who is teaching it and what is their teaching strategy. Look at those teachers beyond just the college. There are good and bad teachers online and on campus.
My teaching philosophy is to teach very little history and philosophy. I tell my students I can do that if they’re interested but I want you to be able to walk out of every class and be able to apply what you learned in real life. Then my challenge for myself is to take those courses for you so you don’t have to, and I can implement them into my college courses.
Another benefit is you can take courses outside of your program, not at Full Sail but at other colleges. I would tell people to take finance and marketing classes because that’s where most of the jobs are in the music industry and it gives you something to fall back on in times like this.
Interning every semester is also super important, from freshman year on. Most are only available for college credit anyway and it’s where most of the learning takes place because you can implement and do these things you’re being taught in the classroom.
Also, take advantage of your instructors. They’ve more than likely been in the industry and have experience and know more than just what they’re teaching in class. Go to their office hours and talk to them.
Don’t forget to also network with your fellow students (especially the ones that are doing well in their classes) because they’re going to be your peers in the music industry. You can start collaborating with them and start pushing out content now.
What are some networking strategies people can make use of?
LinkedIn connections are all just vanity metrics that don’t mean anything. Before the interview, I told you that you and I are friends. If you ever need to get in contact with me just text me, don’t email.
We don’t need the formality anymore and the more people you have at that level, that is a true network. If you have 100 people in the industry that you can text directly and they will reply, that is way more valuable than having 10,000 LinkedIn connections. The way you build those connections is by engaging with their content.
Like the history journey I mentioned, I engaged with other creator’s content in that world by asking genuine questions and it has built a network that I never had before. You’re giving them real value with your curiosity and interest.
There are so many Zoom meetings and webinars right now. Sign up for those and go into those with questions ready. Have at least five with the intention to ask two. Even if they answer your question during that talk, think of how you can expand on that question and give it more value. Speakers are going to remember the ones that ask a good question. It’s always memorable.
Then reach out with a brief thank you for what you learned and ask if you can reach out again in a few months after you’ve applied what you learned. People love hearing success stories from the information they’ve taught others. It goes back to being consistent and following up but, not so much that it’s annoying.
I’ve learned a new skill called connect four. I have a list of people that I stay connected with and every couple of days I go to the bottom of the list, the four people it’s been the longest I’ve connected with, and I’ll reach out to them to say hello. I’ll usually tell them something new going on with me and then ask them a question and leave it at that. Short and sweet.
What three episodes of Making It with Chris G do you think every artist should listen to and why?
That’s like asking me to pick my favorite kids. Out of 120 kids, that’s a lot. I think the first would be Kyle Lemaire who has done Indepreneur. He’s episode 54 and dives into funnels a little bit like we previously talked about.
I’m going to cheat and say both of Dawn Beyer’s episodes; one guest but two episodes. She goes through how she got started with the Facebook lives and where she’s at now about a year later.
Derek Sivers is one of those people that spends a lot of time in quiet just thinking and writing. He’s the type of person who is very much a modern philosopher in the music industry. He’s also the founder of CD Baby which he sold for a very comfortable lump sum of money. That’s a very inspiring interview and he also has a new book out called Your Music and People that would be great to check out.
They’re not necessarily my favorite three but I think they’re some of the best ones based on what we’ve talked about.