Indie Artist Advice – Always Have Something to Autograph
Back in the day, when the MP3 was on the rise, and album sales were on the decline, indie artists would ask me if they should even bother pressing any physical copies of their album. I’d always tell them, “You can’t autograph an MP3.”
The feeling behind this is the same feeling I have now when I tell artists you can’t autograph a stream – giving fans something personalized to hold, and treasure creates a greater connection for the fan.
I was thinking about this the other day when I came across a flyer I have that was signed by NYC-based artist DelaDie. Seeing the autograph on the flyer was a light bulb moment, because I suddenly realized it was genius.
In an era when more people stream music than buy it, I realize I’ve become a bit of an anomaly – the person who still buys CDs – so while I can’t simply advise to press CDs, or vinyl (although if your fan base has shown a predilection for the physical product, you absolutely should make sure to have something they can get their hands on), DelaDie’s flyer serves as a reminder that there are lots of things that can be autographed. Heck, if it can be written on, you can grab a Sharpie and put your signature on it.
So here’s a thought for any artist who’s reading this who happens to be on a tight budget – go old school, and embrace the flyer, but make one that will be timeless (i.e. it won’t be promoting a specific show, or album).
First, find a great photo of yourself – it can be of you performing, or a staged shot – and use that photo for one side of the flyer (crediting the photographer, of course).
On the other side have all the information regarding where people can find you and your music online – your website, social media handles, Bandcamp, etc.
What you will have created is one part business card, one part potential memento. It will be something you can hand to people to promote yourself, and also something you can autograph for fans after shows, and include with any merch orders.
Remember, when you autograph something for someone, you aren’t just giving them your signature, you’re creating a bond. You’re building a person’s fandom. You’re giving them a reason to tell all their friends about you, and bring those friends the next time you have a show. You’re turning a great moment into a special moment.
Aside from writing your lyrics, an autograph is one of the most powerful things you can do with a pen, so find a way to give your fans something they can treasure.