Fans at an Anberlin concert...don't know who Anberlin is? Their fans do!!
As a result of my new job I’ve started thinking a LOT more about a musician’s fans. The music is easy – I like it, I don’t like it, I’d like it better if… The whole style, image, shoe-wearing thing isn’t really my bag so I let other, more fashionable people deal with that stuff. But the fans. Those pesky fans. They interest me the most.
I’m by no means an expert (I’d like to be an expert one day!) but I dedicate a lot of processor time (processor being my brain) to chunking through the info I see before me, I hear mentioned by friends and co-workers, and I read about to figure out what is going on in the static between an artist and their fans. Or prospective fans.
It’s all very complicated.
You see, first there’s the whole business of getting NEW fans. In the good old days it was easy: labels told media outlets who was the next big thing, radio played them, MTV aired them, papers talked about them, and people liked them. I’m in no way denouncing this system, because many of these artists were talented and deserved the exposure. But it was a machine. Millions went into spreading the word, millions went into sending artists on crazy tours, millions went into people’s pockets (can we say PAYOLA?! Or it’s evil, modern twin, promola?!) Nowadays…not so easy!
Then there’s the business of keeping them. In the two years between albums (which, in modern terms, equates to the two months between singles…two months is a LONG TIME!) how do you make sure people don’t forget about you, that fans remain fanatic!
The modern music world is weird. There are no rules! I’ve heard ‘Wild West’ thrown around a lot, and it’s true. Anything goes. I don’t think I heard any songs from the last U2 album, mainly because I didn’t seek it out. I have, however, heard ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black dozens of times. I’ve actually grown to love the song!
How do you get your music TO the fans? How do you keep them active? What does ‘active’ mean??
Active, to me, means a fan base that stays connected. It can also refer to fans who are excitable and passionate (like Bieber fans.) However, I’ve seen fans who sit, listen, and quietly enjoy who are as passionate as Beliebers. So, for the purposes of the blog…active just means ‘A fan that follows what an artist is doing, listens to their new music, and tells their friends about it.‘
If you’re indie, how do you find an active fan? This is a tough question. Some might think that you build a database of Twitter and Facebook followers, and release the songs through those mediums, but I find that’s not for everyone. To use me as an example (YOU SUCK, ROO) – I have 800 folks on my Facebook, and 800 folks on my Twitter, and after recently sending out a link to a YouTube vid of a performance I have, in two days, netted 50 views. I should have at least 800, right?! No, I should have more, because they showed all of their friends, right?!
WRONG! My Twitter and FB friends are mostly friends, or people I know for one reason or another, NOT fans. There’s a distinction. As an other example, an artist I work with has almost 4000 Facebook followers, yet only encouraged 300 to join his new artist Fan Page. That’s because the 4000 are a mix of friends, fans, and…let’s face it…people who use Facebook once every few months rather than a few times every day.
So, what’s my answer? You’re gonna hate me…
Come on! You’re a musician, or an artist, or an actor, or whatever you do! That’s creative, right? Use that creativity and think beyond the art you’re creating…think creatively on how to get that art to the fans who may be your devotees! How can you reach people with your music? The internet’s reach means that you could build a fanbase in your hometown AND Alice Springs, Australia…so why hasn’t it happened yet?
And if you’re a fan…an ACTIVE fan, a listener who loves finding new music, or movies, or art, or whatever it is you like…look out for the creative approaches artists use to find you! If someone’s on the radio or in the paper it’s because they have money. If they aren’t on radio or in the paper, yet they somehow found your ear, they probably did something creative to get there.
I’ll touch back on the subject as I see how the creative approach to finding active fans works. If it’s a dud…I’ll go back to the drawing board and let you know!
Do you have a creative way you’ve reached a fanbase, or otherwise have you observed a creative approach from a favourite artist? Let me know!