Workshop: Optimising the online experience for both bands and fans

Darren Web, online marketing manager for Sigur Ros (photo by Arnar Bergmann)

Darren Webb from the Sigur Ros online team and Johann Agust Johannsson of Kraumur – a non-profit music office and operation based in Reykjavik – hosted an intimate, informative workshop on maximising the online experience for bands and the merits of the tools and services currently available.

The audience was a great cross-section of people, including members of Gogoyoko and Projekta as well as music managers, musicians and performers, all keen to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to online engagement with fans and consistency across platforms.

Darren Webb, who is currently working on the campaign for Sigur Ros album Inni, discussed how vital it is to have as many people as possible returning to your website – once they’re there you can sell, engage them further, ensure they subscribe to newsletter, and basically encourage further commitment.
Webb also talked about his time working with the band The National, consolidating their online presence – it’s only too easy to have a smattering of sites and to end up updating one more than another, which is misleading for fans and ultimately detrimental for the band profile – simplifying and bringing things together was the way forward here.
He also discussed the importance of an accessible approach from the band, or at least the band’s team. “We’re very hands on, we get emails all the time, everything from ‘Can you come to play in my small town?’ to licensing issues.” f you send an email to a band you idolise, to get an email from someone in the team is very valuable. The band are passive (when it comes to online), they concentrate on the music.”
Twitter is obviously a great tool for artists to communicate with fans, but, unlike the likes of Lily Allen or Courtney Love, Jonsi and Alex perhaps unsurprisingly “tweeted once every season: ‘Happy Christmas, we’re making chocolate cookies’ or something like that.” But fans would know that it would be unlikely for Jonsi and Alex to be verbose on Twitter, so they were happy to be treated to occasional tweets which felt special rather than being saturated with constant tweeting that risks ruining the mystique.
Twitter aside, Facebook is, in Webb’s opinion, still king. “Facebook is the one that engages fans the most. It’s the real time aspect, you put something up and within minutes 100 people will have clicked like. But the mail-outs get the most response – there are less people subscribing but more click-throughs.” On the subject of Facebook, Johannsson added: “To see the fans’ response to something you have posted up, whether about a new song or a new baby, there’s something really valuable to have that direct response.”

When it comes to band websites, it’s often a case of keeping a balance between posting up what you want and keeping retailers happy, linking to Amazon, for example. But it’s also vital to take a fresh and quirky approach; with the campaign of Heima, fans were encouraged to email in a picture of themselves with the disc in return for a download link, which garnered a huge response. Ultimately thinking of fun and engaging new ways to increase interactivity and thus consumer interest is incredibly valuable and a key to piquing interest in an era of online saturation.