In Defense of 1,000 True Fans – Part XIII – Robyn Dell’Unto’s Multifaceted Approach to Fan Engagement

Robyn Dell'Unto
It’s been well over a year since our last contribution to our 1,000 True Fans series, but the ideology hasn’t aged a bit. The hustle and heart of the indie artist is still a necessity in today’s music industry, and the focus remains to have an all-encompassing view of every avenue needed to reach the widest possible audience, and tap into all possible revenue streams. Of course, there is not latter here without the former.

Cyber PR campaigns manager Andrew Salmon (@andrewgsalmon) sits down with Canadian singer-songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto to talk about Twitter, crowdfunding, user generated content, and seizing opportunities.

Andrew Salmon: How long have you been an active musician for? You’ve been making music and performing for a long time, but do you think there was a defining moment when you became officially “active”?

Robyn Dell’Unto: I played through high school but tried VERY hard to stop as I made my way into university [McMaster University]; I wanted to be a psychologist or something else really respectable to grown ups. But the local music scene in Hamilton, Ontario was so incredibly conducive to collaborating, getting on stage, just being around other musicians, and I cracked pretty quickly. There were so many talented people just hanging around town, and great music venues. I got hooked, started playing a bunch, recording singles here and there. I moved to Toronto after graduating, and about a year later I entered this competition with a local independent record label, and “won” a record contract. I felt sort of validated by that, because out of nowhere I suddenly had funds and support. While I’m loving running my own show these days, I’m so appreciative of that experience.

AS: What would you estimate your percentage breakdown of music-related income to be?
– Shows
– House shows / club shows
– Music sales / streaming
– Publishing / sync licensing

– Shows (including house/corporate/public venue/college): 30%
– Music sales: 5% (ha!!)
– Publishing/licensing (including residual royalties): 40%
– Other (workshops via my songwriting program A Song Of My Own): 25%

AS: You have a strong presence on Twitter, and you clearly have a special bond with your fans in this space. How have you gone about building your tribe?

RDU: Ha! I didn’t realize I had a tribe. Could I please be called Chief? Twitter is fun and direct and I guess I just try to be myself while putting info out there as much as possible. I’ve gained a few real fantastic fans through licensing and touring, and I find people stick with you if you’re responsive, or a bit funny, or just generally not a dick. Everybody’s in love with music, and it’s incredible to think that someone could be in love with yours.

AS: The 1,000 true fans model focuses on not just maintaining relationships with fans, but building your “super-fans”, ones who are most likely to support everything that you do whenever given the chance (buy all your records, go to all shows, etc). How many of your fans would you say fit this criteria?

RDU: Oh god I don’t know, haha! Counting is not my specialty. Running a pre-sale campaign for my new record was a real eye opener. I got a lot of support from people I’ve met at shows, or folks who’ve heard my music in TV shows or in movies, or I guess just found me on YouTube. “Superfans” create this invaluable content for you. They invent hashtags, promote your music to their friends, big you up, bring you up when you’ve had a shitty day. They’re the greatest creatures on earth.

AS: How would you say you’ve been able to win your fans over? What additional value do you bring to the table in terms of your relationship to your fans beyond the music?

RDU: Hmm…I guess I’d have to ask them. I really like posting photos, and I think people like to see what’s happening behind the scenes. I like posting ridiculous photos of animals, particularly pugs, they’re just so damn ugly and everybody love-hates them. People send me links to fantastic ugly pug pictures and I’m always extremely grateful. I talk about food a bit… who doesn’t love food, right? I’ve had a few proposals, which I’ve been receptive to. Nothing wrong with that. I LOVE getting cover-performance videos of my songs, and try to always repost them. I recently saw a sign language performance of my song ‘Astronaut’ on YouTube. It made me weep. Like, honestly weep. That was awesome.

AS: You also successfully ran a crowdfunding campaign. What was your experience like, and what did it say about your fans and what drives people to contribute?

RDU: I was a bit hesitant to do it because crowdfunding got so popular so quickly and I wasn’t sure whether fans were actually feeling they were getting what they paid for in due time. I knew my campaign was gonna run longer than the standard length (it ended up running about 18 months), so I decided to send out these monthly e-mails with free downloads of unreleased songs. It was really amazing, because fans would post about which “secret songs” they liked and talk about them, and it helped to drive other people to the campaign. I felt like I was building relationships I hadn’t had before. When I was preparing physical pre-sale packages, I included these little notes for each fan, and it was easy to know what to write because many had sent me feedback along the way. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

AS: You’ve also had some major sync placements in shows like Degrassi, Being Erica, among many others. How have have you gone about seizing the opportunity to grow your fanbase in this vein?

RDU: It is obviously so important to have the track readily available for sale and/or streaming at the time the episode or film is being debuted. I guess I just tried to express my gratitude and remain accessible to potential new fans who wanted to talk about what the song meant to them, be it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Music to picture opens the most major emotional can of worms. It’s the best.

AS: If you had $1,000 to spend on your music career (marketing, promo, production, etc), how would you use the money?

RDU: I’d ask for $9,000 to go with it! Jokes. If I was being selfish, I would spend it on a bit of gear for my studio. I love recording at home, and I recorded a great deal of my new record Little Lines at home. I want a new microphone! In reality, I’d probably use it to extend my PR campaign a bit. Professional PR goes a hella long way, especially when you’re used to hauling it yourself.

AS: Congrats on the release of your sophomore album “Little Lines”! What are you most happy about with this record?

RDU: I’m most happy that I birthed it on my own top to bottom (sounds gross?). I surrounded myself with genius-brained people, co-writers, co-producers and mix engineers. I wrote the grants and ran the campaign and leaned hard on the talented people in my life for help. I’m so lucky to have such support in my community, and I’m really proud of what came out of this “indie journey.” I promise to never use that phrase again.

Robyn Dell’Unto’s sophmore record “Little Lines” is available now! Learn more about Robyn on her website and follow her on Twitter here.


In Defense of 1,000 True Fans – Part XII – How Kat Parsons Has Built Her Mailing List to Over 10,000 Strong

I met Kat Parsons through a mutual friend and she hired us to write a full marketing plan for her. After working closely with her, I thought she would be the perfect addition to the 1000 True Fans series! By putting a strong focus on building her mailing list and genuine engagement through social media, Kat has been able to take the big leap into becoming a full-time musician. Her understanding of building long-lasting relationships with her fans has helped her to build a sustainable career in the music industry, and it is one worth discussing, so enjoy!

Ariel Hyatt: How do you make the 1,000 True Fans theory work for you?

Kat Parsons: I’m big into authenticity and connection and think that is key to engaging and developing a community around music… I think community is also one of the keys to happiness.

AH: Can you give us a breakdown percentage wise of the following:


House Concerts / Private Shows 70%
Live shows? 10%
CD sales? / Download sales? 10%
Film & TV 10%

AH: How many die hard fans would you say you have – fans that will buy everything and anything from you?

KP: I would probably base this on my Kickstarter campaign – there were 181 people who pledged through Kickstarter and another 30 who pledged privately directly to me. My mailing list is far greater than that and many of the people on there will buy my new upcoming recordings. I just moved servers but before I moved servers, my mailing list was 10,000.

AH: How do you go about attracting and connecting with “true fans?”

KP: I love FB…I love interacting with people on FB, but most of my connection comes through live shows. I do A LOT of house concerts in crazy places I never imagined visiting! Through those shows I meet new fans who invite me to their homes whose friends then invite me to their homes and….

AH: What is your favorite social media site and why? What advice would you give to an artist just starting on that site?

KP: Facebook. Sometimes I am verbose and I like the space…I don’t think in tweets! I also like how I can go to one place to see everyone’s responses and comment on everyone’s reply in one place.

AH: Which analytics platforms (if any) do you use? How do those metrics help you manage your music career?

KP: I am about to start using googleanalytics and….I am working on a new internet marketing strategy that will rely on new traffic…so I will be experimenting with ways of bringing people into the community and intend to used the analytics to tell me which ways work best.

AH: Can you describe how you accumulated so many email addresses and persuaded your fans to fund your album, “No Will Power?”

KP: I’ve played a lot of concerts and I really enjoy connecting with people. For better or worse, I am very warm and accessible at my shows (no matter how hard I try, I cannot be mysterious!!!). I used to walk around with my mailing list and meet everyone.

AH:  How do you get invited to play at house concerts?

KP: Most of my house concerts are invitations through guests of a house concert. I think what is unique about the way I do it, is that I really don’t think anything is outside the realm of possibility. If someone says, we’d love to have you come play in Singapore, I say “Ok” and we set about finding a way to make that happen, which often times meaning booking several shows in the same area to cover overhead and my fee.

AH:  How do you pursue house concert opportunities?

KP: When someone expresses interest, I follow up with them regularly and we never give up until we’ve got a date on the books!

AH:  How do you build on the relationships made from the house concerts, both the relationship with the host and the patrons?

KP: I make sure to express my gratitude to my hosts and the guests….it is such an honor to be invited into someone’s home and for them to want to share my music with their friends…I try to always be aware of that and make the concert tons of fun!

AH: What items do you sell the most of at house concerts?

KP: Cds. That is all the merch I currently have.

AH: If you had $1,000 to spend on marketing and promotion, how would you spend that money?

KP: Internet Marketing – getting traffic and then bonding with my audience and making special pffers for being a part of this!

AH: What was your initial vision for connecting to fans and how did Social Media change that?

KP: It’s always been in person, but as time goes on, I am getting so much enjoyment out of connecting through Facebook, in particular. Sometimes it can be really overwhelming….it feels like you are supposed to have a profile that you update every day on 15 social media sites. I have found that for me, it is more important to focus on one and make the relationship rewarding then spread myself thin on everything. I like that FB allows a deeper relationship and bonding with fans that they can opt into,.

Kat Parson’s new album ‘Talk To Me’ is now available! Go to for a free download!

Follow Kat on Twitter at @KatParsonsSings


In Defense of 1,000 True Fans – Part XI – How Marian Call Leveraged Twitter To Tour All 50 States

Since Spotify’s US launch and the F8 announcements, a major sea change is underfoot.  I have been following some of the most important and lively conversations about the meaning of all of this for independent musicians everywhere.

I don’t have much to say about it all (yet) but my knee jerk reaction is to revert back to the basics. As things get more and more complicated and as artists are being included on platforms that will yield them smaller fiduciary returns, it is more necessary than ever to remember and practice core marketing principals. I am strongly reminded of their necessity of the basics when I look at this from a global perspective.

I just returned from Scandinavia where most everyone still refuses to use Twitter and the people I met and spoke to mostly believe that email newsletters = SPAM.

I still stand by the 1,000 true fans theory and I am still inspired by artists who are putting this theory into full practice.

What follows is my 11th installment in this series…



Turning TV Placements Into Fan Engagement: Lessons From Mr. Robotic – In Defense of 1,000 True Fans – Episode X – Part 2

Two weeks ago I posted part 1 of my Step-by-Step interview with Mr. Robotic.  Here is part two.  Enjoy it!


AH: How many die-hard fans would you say you have? (Meaning; fans that will buy everything and anything from you?)

Mr. R: I have about 112 that would buy anything from me. They are in a special group in my email list. The rest I know would definitely buy music.

This is great strategy!  Mr. Robotic has separated his diehard fans into a special group so he can better communicate with them and they probably won’t mind extra communication since they are in his Community 1 – his Super Fans.

AH: How do you use analytics to your advantage? Do measurements help you with your career?

Mr. R: I use Google Analytics for my website. To see how many visitors I get and if I get a TV placement how many people come to my site on that day. I also use analytics on YouTube to see where the majority of people who are watching my videos live.  This helps me see where my fans are to get shows in those areas.

TIP: Social Media guides real life activity.  It’s very important to understand this so you can go where the success is already leading you.


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Turning TV Placements Into Fan Engagement: Lessons From Mr. Robotic – In Defense of 1,000 True Fans – Episode X

A few weeks ago I got a tweet from Mr. Robotic, asking if I could include him in my In Defense of 1,000 True Fans series.  I love meeting people via social media, and what follows is the first artist who has approached me to tell his own story.  It’s the perfect roadmap of how to take full advantage precious TV placements.  Instead of the usual interview, I’m combining my “How To” article format (Sound Advice) with this In Defense of 1,000 True Fans piece, giving you an action plan. This article is so long it will be delivered in 2 parts.

When I teach master classes to artists I often get asked:  How do I leverage a TV placement?

Creating more fans and friends from a hard earned TV or film placement takes a combination of fast action and solid strategy. In the end as evidenced here by Mr. Robotic, this combination can really pay off!

First: A back-story and a word of precaution: I have stood by and watched helplessly now as two of my Cyber PR® clients (who shall remain nameless) have been included in NATIONAL TV spots (one on an Apple commercial and one on a car commercial) and completely squandered these massive opportunities to make new fans.

Getting placed on TV is not easy and these two clients had hit the jackpot. Not only do you get paid for a TV placement, you also get residual income each time it airs but that’s only HALF of a placement’s potential.

Their music was getting exposure multiple times in front of millions of people on TV. Then as the massive opportunity (and potential future income) to capture and engage fans was literally pouring out of the machine, they walked away…  How?  By not setting up the bucket to catch the coins.

Imagine this, a fan hears the song and likes it and heads straight to Google to find out what it is and then Eureka!  He finds it and heads to the website of the artist he just discovered…

One artist had a landing page that said “website coming soon” and the other had a ReverbNation page that was so confusing, I’m certain that potential fans just clicked away, looking to  downloaded the track from a free site, never to be heard from again.

Opportunity squandered.

When potential fans come your way it’s your job to leverage everything you can to engage them (and for gods sake get their email addresses!) (more…)


In Defense of 1,000 True Fans Part IX – Theory At Work In Australia – Down Under Series – Part 1: Urthboy

Greetings from Western Australia!  As I type this I am in the backseat of a car driving from Perth to Margaret River to enjoy a day of wine tasting and beach before I teach a masterclass to local musicians.  I have been invited here by The West Australian Music Industry Association to kick off their workshop series and have so far met and presented to over 200 musicians, labels owners, music industry students and managers. This is my third visit to Australia in 18 months and I love this country. I have been welcome here and have met lifelong friends and some of the most wonderful musicians (knows as “musos” in Aussie speak) on earth.

I’m not saying this to brag or boast, I am saying this to introduce and make a point about 1,000 true fans. Music Think Tank is read by not only artists but also by people who work in and who aspire to work in the music business.

As a hard working entrepreneur in today’s music industry, I constantly think about how I apply the 1,000 true fans philosophy to my business (just like every single artist I work with does).  I am not a musician, and I don’t make a living creating music, I am viscerally aware of this fact, but I do make a living working with musicians and my dream to make a difference in their lives by the next generation of future leaders in my industry. My goals involve travelling the world and connecting with people to collaborate with. If I don’t connect well, I don’t get to live that dream.

So, why this intro?  I am proud to be mentoring the next generation of young people who are interested in creating careers on the marketing side of the music business and I am off to Sydney next to do just this.

So without further ado, I introduce you to James Chatman from Sydney who I stumbled upon via a Google alert…. Here’s what led me to meet James. (more…)

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