Do you sometimes feel that in order to grow your fan base online like the pros, you may actually have to consider buying “likes” on social media or SoundCloud? Don’t! There’s a perfectly ethical and often very effective way to genuinely build your followers, and it’s called “fan gating”. Let’s find out more…
A bit about fan gating… and why Facebook banned it
A fan gate is when you ask users to “Like” or “Follow” your social media profile before they see a piece of content – in our case as DJs/producers, it’d probably be a download of a mix or production. Some electronic music artists go as far as to provide remixes or bootlegs of popular tracks or stems of a track, while at the other end of the scale, some DJs simply exchange their mixes for a follow.
You’ve probably seen this before – you wanted to download a cool track from an artist on SoundCloud, but when you clicked on the “free download” link, your download didn’t automatically start, but rather sent you to a Facebook page prompting you to “Like” the page first. You then got the download in exchange for a “Like” of that page.
However, in November 2014 Facebook decided to ban “Like to Downloads” because it wanted to make sure people were liking pages because they truly liked a brand, business or artist instead of because of “artificial incentives”. At the time, Facebook stated it would be shutting down pages that used gates such as Like to Download and others, and some artists were indeed shut down for using the application within Facebook.
As you can imagine, this affected many DJs and artists who were reliant on fan gates for growing their Pages. However, it also spurred quick-thinking music makers and entrepreneurs to fill the demand for fan gate platforms. In this article, we take you through services like Click.dj, Hypeddit and ToneDen which have become de facto fan gate apps for many artists and DJs.
Choosing a fan gate
Each of the most popular fan gate applications has different features and they all offer free and premium (paid) plans that are reasonably affordable. I’ll lay out the pros and the cons to help you make an informed decision.
Created by Dean Van Dugteren, AKA Apexrise, and used by some of the internet’s biggest music brands, Click.dj uses “Follow To Download” and “Like To Download” for SoundCloud (and also Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, even Facebook, and – yes – good old e-mail too).
In fact, “E-mail to Subscribe and Download” is one of the top features that attracts many Click.dj users. Next to getting instant followers on your social networks, you can send people their download by email. Once your new follower clicks the download link in their inbox, their email and country information will become available to you. Having email subscribers is a great way to directly engage with fans, and to let everyone from a certain country know about your gigs in their area.
Another key feature is SoundCloud Repost to Download. The exponential power of other SoundCloud users re-posting your track is powerful. Imagine posting a DJ mix and sending it to your friends: They want to download your mix so they click the “Free Download” button, and then a SoundCloud login screen pops up and, within a few clicks, they’re instantly following you along with a repost of your DJ mix on their profiles. Those friends could have friends that also like your mix, so they repost it on their profiles too, and the follows just keep on coming.
Click.dj is the only application out there that offers a Follow to Download WordPress Plugin to embed follow-to-download functionality directly into your own website. For WordPress users, this is a major benefit: It also allows storage of the Downloads on their servers saving space on your SoundCloud account so you can upload only the streaming version instead of uploading the track or mix twice.
One of the turn offs with Click.dj is that it’s usability is only one sided. By that I mean it’s really only used by the music maker, whereas the other two applications serve the music fans as well as the music maker by sharing top or trending tracks on a single page. An addition of this to Click.dj would bring the platform more value for the music creators.
• Find out more about Click.dj here.
DJ John Gold, founder of BeatCanteen Records, is the man behind Hypeddit.com. Here you can offer downloads of your music in return for SoundCloud Followers, Likes and Comments.
One of the reasons why many Hypeddit users love this fan gate is that the company offers a Top 100 list for many genres. For music fans, this is comparable to the holy grail of free downloads, and as a DJ it’s a goldmine to find all the most popular free tracks.
Unlike Click.dj, Hypeddit does not have a plug-in to embed on WordPress, and for those that have a website running WordPress, they may feel that keeping track of their links and finding a way to integrate with their own domain may be another item on the to-do list.
• Find out more about Hypeddit here.
TondDen.io offers a plethora of features on SoundCloud for both artists and fans alike. The company also offers an app for music fans to keep track of trending songs from their favourite artists who are using the platform’s fan gates. By entering your phone number on the main page you are sent the app via text. If you are wondering who gets the fan or the follow when you collaborate with a handful of artist, you’ll be surprised that ToneDen has thought of this already too.
Many ToneDen users give compliments to how much support is offered by the creators of ToneDen. The company appears to take an active role in its users’ success and has a comprehensive support system.
• Find out more about ToneDen here.
How to fan gate
Now just setting your fan gate up doesn’t necessarily bring tons of eyeballs to your music. While some artists’ results may look remarkable at first (and they are impressive), they results aren’t mysterious. Their success is because they ditched the “Upload and Pray” approach and embraced more strategic track promotion. If you want your music to get results, you can’t rely on the ol’ “Upload and Pray” approach either.
Why? The fact is: there are at least 10 hours of audio uploaded every minute as of 2014 and perhaps that number has doubled for 2015. And no one will see or hear your music unless you get off your behind and promote it. That’s why the DJs and producers quoted below emphasise the importance of promotion.
Here are the steps to take to ensure your music gets proper promotion:
- Have great artwork – Before uploading your music, the importance of having great artwork is important to make sure you grab the attention of those who come across your track. “A professional looking cover art or album art is deemed as a sign of legitimacy and plays an important roll as well,” says Frank M. Murray, from the old Facebook Like to Download App days
- Make playlists of your music – After uploading, some artists add or create playlists of similar sounds. This helps the listener seek out more of the same sounds you offer. “I create a new playlist with the track I am offering as a download. This way I can retain the play count metrics and if I decide to stop the promotion I don’t have to change anything about the track itself, just remove the playlist,” says Levi Whalen, Gumroad User
- Get the word out – Next, create ways to post your music or get it featured in a place that your target audience hangs out. “I network with various promotional pages that share/repost a comparable style of music to their audience. An audience that I feel is my ‘target demographic’. For example, I will find a page that is promoting ambient, chill electronic, as opposed to finding a DnB promotional page. Once they’ve shared my song with their audience, my traffic will increase temporarily. During this time, I hope for positive feedback and to know people are enjoying what I’ve created and want to hear more,” says Ian Campbell (NoxTros), a Hypeddit User
- DO NOT pay to promote on Facebook – We don’t mean paying for likes, but legitimate promotion here. If you want to pay to promote, do it on Twitter. It is more efficient, will reach the right audience, and costs only a tad bit more than Facebook, but the benefits outweigh the cost. “Some of the rookie mistakes include paying for promotion with platforms that don’t offer much in return,” says Kyle Rosa, a Toneden User
Now that you know what a fan gate is and how it is used to help build your fanbase across different networks, the only thing left to do is give it a try for yourself.
Any of the services listen here would be good to start with, but if you want to give ToneDen a test drive, the company is offering free lifetime premium access to Digital DJ Tips readers. Just create an account here, and respond to your welcome email with the phrase “DigitalDJTips”. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your ToneDen profile.
Have you tried fan gating? Has it worked for you? Which service do you use? Please share your thoughts below.