- DJ Sam Feldt is one of the most popular DJs in the world.
- He realized that through Facebook, artists have very little insight into their fans.
- His startup Fangage gives artists full control over the relationship with his fans, without ever needing Facebook.
DJ Sam Feldt has built quite a large fanbase on social media. His fans voted him to the 75th spot on the annual ranking for most popular DJs, which is put together by the British magazine DJ Mag. That’s twelve places higher than last year.
The 24-year-old Dutchman (real name: Sam Renders) had his breakthrough in 2015 with the hit single Show me love and has been jet-setting around the world ever since, DJing at parties and festivals.
One thing has continuously been on his mind: Who are his fans?
“You see the number of followers increase on your social media accounts. You think: I must be doing something right,” says Renders in an interview with Business Insider. “But who are these people? What motivates them to listen to your music? And how do you spur them into action?”
Facebook as the middleman
The latter in particular is something that frustrates Renders. The DJ has hundreds of thousands of followers, but to reach them, he is dependent on Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire, which includes Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Want to sell tickets to an exclusive show? You can try posting it on social media, but not every ‘liker’ or follower will see the message.
“The only way to achieve that is by spending a fortune on a sponsored post or run an ad campaign,” according to Renders. “The people that like my page are saying: I love this music and want to hear more of it. But when I post something, they don’t automatically get to see my message. That seems weird to me.”
Renders decided to tackle this problem. With his startup Fangage, he now has full control over the relationship with his fans, without ever needing Facebook.
Fan portal with exclusive content
Fangage is a software platform that allows artists and influencers to build a database of their biggest fans. Renders’ own site Heartfeldt.me is built on Fangage. He posts tracks, mixtapes, videos, competitions, and tickets to shows on his portal. Fans can unlock the content by signing up, and entering their email address, telephone number, and location.
In the twelve months since launching Fangage, 20,000 people have created a profile on Renders’ site. “It might not seem like a lot, but it is incredibly valuable.”
The DJ can reach his fans directly via email or text messages, wherever he is in the world. “If I’m doing a show in New York and I send out a text to 300 of my biggest fans, there’s a huge chance they’ll come and bring their friends. It creates a snowball effect. We’ve seen this happen with marketing campaigns we already ran.”
With Fangage, Renders can apply all of his skills in a single project. “A little bit of marketing, making music, design and product development.”
He trained in marketing at the Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch and ran a marketing agency in Breda.
Renders has prior experience as an entrepreneur. At the age of 13, he registered his first company at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, accompanied by his father as Renders wasn’t eighteen yet. He set up the web store, which dropshipped electronic goods such as beamers and cameras from China to Dutch customers.
After two years, he sold the business to Jasper Schrijver.
How Fangage makes money
That same Schrijver is now the CEO of Fangage. “We have been working together for years,” says Renders, who grew up in the town of Boxtel, close to Schrijver. The DJ is responsible for the marketing activities at Fangage. The third co-founder is Nick Velten, the COO and CTO of the startup.
The three founders invested their own money to develop the software. Now, Fangage has 15 customers, mostly fellow DJs of Renders like Oliver Heldens and Laidback Luke. They pay the startup a monthly fee to use the technology.
The standard package starts at 175 euros a month. This includes building and hosting a website for the artist or influencer. Several add-ons, such as a ticket shop or web store to sell merchandise, are also available.
“You can see exactly which fans purchase the most,” says Renders. “Based on that, you can determine who your most loyal fans are and offer them special promotions.”
That’s where the built-in email and text message marketing system comes in, for which you need to purchase a certain amount of credits per campaign. According to Renders, the personal texts that he sends to his fans are incredibly effective: 95% of the recipients opens the message and 70% click on the link that is included. “You’re sending marketing material to someone who is already a fan, so the conversion rate is very high.”
Connecting brands to influencers
Fangage also connects brands to influencers, for a small commission. For example, Renders recently had a show in Singapore to promote his new album, Sunrise. He invited his biggest fans to an exclusive listening session, which took place at a furniture store that sponsored the event.
“That’s the triangle right there,” explains Renders. “The influencer strengthens the relationship with his fans, the fans have a fantastic experience, and the brand attracts new customers. It’s a win-win-win situation made possible through the Fangage platform.”
Another example: During the Amsterdam Dance Event in October, 50 fans were given the opportunity to meet the DJ. The location was the Heineken Experience at Stadhouderskade. Renders posted this picture afterwards on his Instagram account:
Hosted a secret private event for 50 lucky Superfans during ADE, made possible by @fangage.me and hosted by @heinekenexperience! So good to be able to talk to you guys on a personal level and get more connected to my fans. Want to be invited to this in the future? Register at Heartfeldt.me 😊 #FangagePresents #HeinekenExperience
Looking for investors
Renders receives business enquiries on a daily basis. “We can currently cover our costs with our monthly revenue, but we want to grow much bigger,” says Renders. “To achieve that, we need money.”
He and his two cofounders are looking to raise capital from investors in the near future. There has already been interest from several Chinese venture capitalists to launch Fangage in China.
Meanwhile, the founders are looking to expand the platform beyond the world of DJing. Artists and bands from other music genres are an obvious next step, but Renders also sees opportunities in eSports, travel, nutrition, and fitness.
“Everyone that has fans on social media and produces content can build a database with our software platform,” Renders says. “As an influencer, it is vital to know who your biggest fans are. Let’s say, for instance, that your Facebook page has 10 million likes. What does that number even mean if Facebook suddenly decides to change their algorithm?”