Sam Feldt has scored hits in the Dutch, Flemish and English charts. One of his singles, Summer On You, was the most played record on Dutch radio a few months ago and went platinum. In addition to his skills as a DJ and producer, Feldt has been a pioneer in another area: Feldt is the first DJ that set up a real content platform, allowing him to communicate directly with his fans.
Relationship with fans distinctive
In 2016, Feldt entered the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs of the world at number 75. His single “The Devil’s Tears” (Sam Feldt Edit) was one of Spotify’s top 10 most viral tracks. Billboard described Feldt as “a modern house superstar”. Ironically, Feldt is not the classic superstar: he is aware like none other that it is the relationship with his fans that is distinctive. Fans cannot get enough of the DJ: in total he has more than a million followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud and YouTube.
“I knew that I had more than one million followers, but I did not know anything else about them. So, when posting on Facebook or Instagram, you often wonder whether every fan or follower will see your status update. That is why I devised heartfeldt.me. This allows me to enjoy direct contact with my fans, without social media being the intermediary. Fans register on this platform, in order to see exclusive content. They collect credits by sharing content with their followers and can use these credits to view other content. This creates a platform which is of, for, and with, the fans”, says Feldt.
Data in return for content
Sam Feldt has invested, like many other DJs, in the marketing of new releases and to announce concerts. When it became clear that the reach per euro started to decrease on his social media channels, and increasingly wondered whether the message reached each follower or fan, Feldt decided to do something different.
“I realised that I was paying Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to have a conversation with people who were already open to receiving my message, which is crazy.”
That is why Feldt devised a platform where no fan would be missing out, so that each of his fans will know when he will release a new record or will play in a club or a festival in the area, for example. “It quickly became clear to me that people are not keen on sharing data with others: you have to give them something in return for this. That is why content, such as radio shows or meet and greets, is provided in return for sharing your contact details. I can use this to mail my fans or send them text messages without another party being the intermediary and every fan is kept up to date with my latest releases and upcoming performances.”
More concerts, more records sold and higher fees
Due to the fact that the DJ receives data from fans via his heartfeldt.me platform and can directly interact with them, there are a number of specific benefits. “First of all, it saves me many marketing euros. I can spend less on other forms of marketing, because I can invest everything into direct communication.
Not only does this allow me to sell more tickets for a concert on a smaller budget, I can also ask a higher fee for those bookings. After all, I can show that I can mobilise my fans and calculate exactly how many fans will purchase a ticket by sending them a message. In addition, it has become easier to release records or sell merchandise. I can also ask fans if they would prefer Sam Feldt T-shirts or sweatpants and base my merchandise choices on that.”
Feldt has a background in the marketing industry: he studied Advanced Business Creation in Den Bosch and is the founder of an e-commerce company. Nevertheless, as a DJ you do not have to be a marketing or data specialist, says Feldt. “You can gather other people around you for this. If you do not get to work with data, then you as a DJ will know less about which brands are interesting to work with, where you should and shouldn’t play and ultimately what your fans want. Successful DJs are aware that they have to manage their own career as a company — and insights that you can only get from data are part of that.”
Do not build a house on rented land
Social media plays a far more modest role in the marketing mix of the DJ, but he has not moved away from Facebook at all. “I still use social media channels, but in a different way. Don’t see it as a promotional channel, but as a source for traffic to your website or platform. Consider Google AdWords: social media has become an advertisement channel these days, where you pay for traffic to your platform.”
Feldt therefore advises artists to include a link to your own platforms on every sponsored post, so that you can use the marketing budget even smarter. “You no longer post the full video on Facebook, but only put the trailer online, including a link to the full video, which you have posted on your own platform. You would not build a house on rented land, but create a piece of land and place a house on it, where you can welcome your fans. However, the route to that house can be advertised on other platforms.”
Architect for artists
Every artist should have a platform such as heartfeldt.me. That is why the DJ developed the Fangage platform. Artists, musicians or athletes can create a similar platform as heartfeldt.me, so that they also can communicate with their fans without the Facebook or other parties acting as the intermediary. “We now have 30 top DJs that have joined the platform, but we are broadening our scope. For example, top athlete Tavi Castro also uses Fangage, and we are very proud of this. In the future, you can also expect vloggers, e-gamers and chefs to use Fangage to contact their followers and fans in a smarter way.”
“We see that there is increasingly more demand for Fangage. If YouTube reduces the reach of vloggers, they can still interact with their fans via their own Fangage. The same goes for Facebook, which is reducing the reach of company and artist pages. If you rely on Facebook for your reach then you will lose much of your reach thanks to the new Facebook policy and become less interesting for advertisers. This means that you can actually not build a sustainable company on someone else’s channels. Imagine an artist who was big on Hyves but did not develop anything on other channels. They are now in trouble. Their followers are now just lines with figures without any real value.”
In fact, heartfeldt.me and Fangage both offer specific elaborations of the Business Acceleration Framework, the framework that shapes the entire digital transformation of an organisation (or artist). This framework ensures that the ecosystem of an event, brand or artist rises digitally, by making smart use of data.
Without this framework tools such as Fangage will be of little use. Moreover: “Both tools (heartfeldt.me and Fangage, editor) are built around the framework, so that we (and those who use Fangage) can get to work with their data. Thanks to the framework you not only know what your data (such as telephone numbers or Facebook profiles) is worth. It also ensures that you can make smarter choices in the area of pricing or marketing, and the organisation is given a major boost with a data-driven approach”, states Feldt.
With heartfeldt.me, Feldt has created the content platform for, and with, his fans. Thanks to Fangage other artists can also benefit from this technology. The Business Acceleration Framework behind it helps them to get optimal return from the fan data. But this does not appear to be sufficient for Feldt and his team.
“We are currently developing a new cryptocurrency together with a consortium (Denis Doeland, Fanalists, Jibe, among others, editor). This will be called Fangold and makes it possible to reward fans if they support you as an artist. It is in fact a peer to peer loyalty programme, without Facebook or other channels acting as the intermediary. Specifically: you share a message about me, then I give you a euro in Fangold. This allows you to unlock certain content, but also for ‘priceless’ things, such as a meet and greet or trip to Ibiza. We strive towards the same feeling that Mastercard aims for: we create a currency for priceless experiences, but then related to artists that you are a fan of.”
- This post is a pre-read of Part 4 — Chapter 9 of my new book ‘Digital Assets’ the translation of the Dutch publication ‘Digitaal Vermogen’.
- Also read the publication ‘EDM and the Digital Domain’