As a musician or music artist, you're going to be taking a lot of photos with your fans. This is an undeniable fact whether you’re just starting out and your fans are just your friends or if you’re one of the biggest superstars on the planet. It’s something that comes along with creating music and performing live in front of an audience. If you’re extremely camera shy, you’re going to have a problem, but for most people, taking selfies with other music lovers can be fun.
If you’re an intelligent musician and businessman (of course you are!), you can make all of these pictures work for you on more levels than just being great mementos for fans. Go ahead and pose for all the snaps you like, but where and when you can, keep some of these ideas in mind to make this opportunity even more advantageous for you as a rising act.
1. Encourage fans to use a custom hashtag
The easiest thing you can do to try and get in on the fun with photos is give people a hashtag to use when they upload, but be careful not to be obnoxious about it.
Keep your hashtag simple, make it memorable, and while you want to remind your fans to use it, don’t hit everybody over the head with it. People understand the power of hashtags and why they exist. At the same time, though, many folks are tired of everybody under the sun touting them.
Remind your fans why they should use the hashtag (so you can enjoy the photos after the show and potentially share them with everybody, of course), and they'll probably be a lot more willing to help you out.
Also, when you decide on a hashtag, make it evergreen. Your unique hashtag shouldn’t change with every show or every new song, because only the biggest chart-topping artists have the social clout to be able to do that sort of marketing. Instead, choose wisely from the beginning and hold onto that tag for months, if not years.
2. Make a backdrop
This might be a bit expensive, but if you’re headed out on tour and you can find a way to make a backdrop work for you, it'll not only pay off in terms of subtle promotion, but your fans will also love it.
When having a backdrop printed, you don’t need to go crazy. This doesn't need to be a red carpet-quality piece of work. It doesn’t need to be huge, and you don’t need to blow your budget on it. It just needs to be something large enough for you, your bandmates, and a few people to stand in front of while a photo is taken.
In terms of look and style, get creative. Maybe you want it to be your album cover, or perhaps it’s as simple as your long-standing band logo. Perhaps this is another opportunity for you to promote your hashtag by having it written behind you. In the end, there isn’t just one way to make a backdrop work for you and your band, but it is something you don’t see very often when it comes to underground bands.
Also, there's nothing young people love more than a photo opportunity, so if your fanbase is generally under the age of 30, they’re sure to take advantage of this, with out without you in the photo. Selfies, anyone?
3. Include your merch in the photo
Is there something you’re trying to sell (other than tickets to concerts and digital downloads, of course)? If so, try to insert that item into as many photos as you can. Maybe you’ve just introduced a new T-shirt design or your album was just recently released on vinyl.
When you’re at shows and fans ask for a picture with you, feel free to ask if they've purchased whatever merch item you’re pushing and offer to sign it. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t take a snap if they haven’t bought something, but if they did just come from your merchandise table, why not have them hold up that item in the picture? You can thank them and show your gratitude while also promoting the item you’re selling.
If you're able to collect enough photos online from various accounts featuring a single item, the marketing may wind up being effective, and you could see a spike in sales. In fact, if you do things right, grabbing a photo with the band while holding the new album could become the “thing” to do among your fans, and that’ll spur sales.
4. Repost fans' content
Chances are that if fans take pictures with you, they’re going to post them online somewhere, and tag you and your bandmaktes in them, so it likely won’t be difficult to find those pics. But what comes after that? Is that the end of the interaction?
It doesn’t have to be! Reach out to fans who post pictures with you, who take live snaps, or who have any other image related to you and your music, and ask if you can reshare these. Reposting photos that are excellently shot, fun, or stand out for some reason always makes for great social content. It takes some of the burden off of you when it comes to creating a steady stream of posts for your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
More than likely, the fans whose uploads are blasted out will be thrilled to see their pics on your official social accounts. This practice may even motivate others to try to make sure every photo they post is high quality and ripe for your marketing purposes.