Let’s begin with some questions :
1. Who is your ideal fan?
Are you able to clearly find a possible fan in a crowd? You need to. Whether or not anyone likes it or not, you can see who your fans should be. Once again, let’s look at The Dave Matthews Band and Nirvana. If you have ever been to a DMB concert, I PROMISE you that you will find yourself in good company. Most of the people are sitting outside, tailgating, listening to the band on their cd player. They will be throwing frisbees and cooking out, drinking beer. It’s a guarantee. I was lucky enough that my wife and I went to a concert recently at Smirnoff Music Center in Dallas, TX. I know you probably don’t care about what I am saying, but it is important. Anyway, we were there, and being from Arkansas, we didn’t have a Texas Driver’s License. Guess what? We couldn’t buy ANY alchohol at all. Luckily, we ran into a few people there that were from Rogers, Arkansas. It’s not too far from where my wife and I live. We didn’t go up to them at all. We just saw them from our car. We had no clue who they were. Since my wife and I were some of the VERY FIRST people there, they came up to us and started talking. They were the nicest people. They explained to us that since we didn’t have the appropriate ID, we wouldn’t get beer. That was awful news to hear, even though it was 109 in the shade, and beer would have probably been a bad idea. Anyway, they asked us for our ID’s, and told us that if we went in with them, they would buy us a few. I know in my heart that if I were performing, I would like to know that my music was influencing. As we all know, Dave speaks from the heart, and these people listened. They were there, lending a hand to my wife and I. In the end, we had a great time, because the fans were appropriate for the atmosphere.
So, what about Nirvana? More than likely those fans are a little more reserved, possibly even very shy. They are grungy, mimicking Cobain’s dress code. There was an ENTIRE MOVEMENT of grunge associated with the Seattle scene. ( Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden )
So, the question is : “What type of fans do you see yourself around?”
2. Why Do The Fans Spend Time and Money JUST To Hear You?
How did you reach out and touch them? The key to this is determing what motivated THEM to come to you. Is it because you make them feel good? Do they just think you are cute or sexy? Let’s hope not, because once again you are falling into a pit of letting the pieces fit themselves. However, whether you like it or not, you are making money regardless. Is that what you want? Or do you want to be an inspiration. It’s up to you.
3. Appeal To The Demographics
Yep. It’s true. You almost have to become a little stereotypical. This may not appeal to the younger musicians, but overall, it’s true. Take Bob Dylan for example. When you go to one of his concerts, don’t expect there to be lights and flash. It’s more intimate. The movie “Pure Country” with George Strait is a perfect example. He mentions that he doesn’t want the flash and pyro and all the effects. Remember when he wasn’t even on stage, but no one noticed at first? That should tell you something. No one could see him over the atmosphere, which HE created. He then looks bad because people think he is deceiving them. That was the point of the movie.
You have to know your demographics. You have to know if you are in the South, people are going to EXPECT southern rock. In the North, it may be grunge, tecno, metal, or anything else harder. Why is that? It all goes back to the demographics.
Now, the question is : Where do you sit on the demographics chart? Check out your local billboard Top 10. That will give you a good idea.
That’s not to say that you can’t break OUT of the demographic. It’s just REALLY hard to do.
4. What Are The Bonuses?
How do you communicate with your possible fans? Here are how some of the major bands have done this :
- Press Releases
- Brochures, Business Cards ( yep – did you know that ? )
- Promotional Packages ( most common )
- Paid Ads
- Web Pages
- Radio Interviews
- Direct Mail
What do YOUR fans want and need? Do they want to be hassled with emails? All of you get a bunch from us, usually just telling you what is new and what promotion we are running, but does it drive you crazy? We hope not. We only want you to be informed of everything that is going on.
Do the fans like your artwork? If so, will that make them buy your music? Do the fans just want to discover you first, before anyone else? I am guilty of that myself. I love Ben Harper, and began watching him over 6 years ago. Now, he’s in the spotlight. Bummer. Why did I not like that he was successful? It’s not that. It was that I connected to him in a different way, and felt a bit greedy about that. “No, that song was written JUST for me. Oh…it wasn’t? Bummer.” All joking aside, this happens.
You have to find out HOW to reach your fans. Believe it or not, you will just have to try what is above and find out what works. It all depends on YOU.
5. Better Left Unsaid
Leave yourself out of the equation. By focusing on what benefits YOUR fans, you don’t look so greedy. You want them to like your music, not you. Even if sometimes it works that way, it’s not a good practice. What if you say something in the media that makes a bunch of people angry? ( Remember the Dixie Chicks issue? ) Should that affect your record sales? No. It shouldn’t. But, it does.
You’ve heard it before. ” I just want to reach my fans. I don’t care about anything BUT that.” This is a pretty safe rule of thumb. If you constantly think about how your fans will see you, you will do much better. For example, Johnny Cash did “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. Strangely enough, his version got higher reviews than the original. Did that make every country fan run away and freak out? No. They bought the album, because of that particular song. Johnny Cash knew that by picking that song, he would be respected. Why is that? Well, for years and years, he made his place in the world with a little bit of rebellion, a little bit of rock, and little bit of soul. He has always been labeled a country artist, but he sure had the attitude of a rocker. People understand that of him, and allow him to make his own interpretations as a musician. Why? Because – he knows what his fans want. They want HIS voice and HIS guitar. They don’t just want a song to listen to. They want it to be him.