I want to talk for a little bit today about knowing your audience and dialoguing with them on a level that they can relate too and want to be a part of. This is an incredibly tricky one because on the one hand you want to separate yourself from your fans a little bit or even act as a sort of role model but similarly you can’t appear to completely have your head stuck up your ass. Knowing how to address your audience very much depends on the situation and what the brand you are trying to project is about. There is a certain elegance to it which can be tricky to properly sort and learning how to navigate these austere curtains is something that holds a lot of bands back. There are a few core rules though that I think can help define how you engage with fans in a positive and productive way that leads to strengthened fan relationships and hopefully even enhanced sales. It’s going to be a journey so let’s dig on in.
The first thing to be aware of as a smaller band is that you don’t want to sound corporate ever. Even the biggest bands in the world who have DIY roots tend to do their bests to avoid any sort of corporate lingo in their establishment of their brand. If you are able to maintain a sense of personability people will related. I know that it can be easier to write material that is corporate sounding, but adding that extra level of personal investment is valuable and is going to get people excited to dig in to what you have to say and what you are bringing to the table. Corporate is for labels and agencies, you’re supposed to be cool and fun, you’re a band after all. This doesn’t just tie into getting fans engaged, it also can be as simple as creating a more relatable way to hawk your merchandise. Rather than saying “New designs in the store, check ‘em out” you might get a lot further by saying “Our drummer Mucho is going gaga over the new shirts!” with a picture of the drummer wearing one of the shirts and a link.
Another important thing is to remember that people don’t like to be talked down too. I know the big rock stars will talk down to their fans – but they are legends and in some cases basically gods. Realize that you, even if you’re in a fairly known band probably don’t have the same level of cool and cultural significance as someone in a band who were big in the 80s. Instead appreciate you need to look at your fans as peers because in the world of underground music most people involved are musicians and that means your fans have a reasonable chance of gunning for your position in the next few months or years. If you continue to respect people and kindly show that you have love for everyone then long term success is going to be a lot easier to find. I don’t care if your brand is ‘rock star’ because your fans won’t care. Instead you need to be approachable because at the end of the day you are winning over one fan at a time.
When you use this philosophy of ‘one fan at a time’ for how you try to relate to people it becomes a lot easier. You look at your broad variety of potential fans and you can show off various interests in order to draw in a diverse array of people. This is part of why reading is very important if you’re in a band, it gives you a deeper understanding of the world and with a deeper understanding of the world you are going to find yourself more able to connect to fans. Not only that but reading is going to make you a better writer and if you’re a better writer then all of this digital communication that you need to do is going to become much simpler and more straightforward. As the digital communication becomes more straightforward then the more tangible and meaningful success that you are going to have, which no one can take away from you.
It’s the small things that count, and it’s kind of freakish to me to what extent copy writing has become a huge part of what makes the music industry cook these days. If you know how to copy write well then you are automatically going to end up going a lot further in the world of music. The bands whose posts are replete with typo or don’t read well aren’t going to end up being cared about. Meanwhile the groups who create easy to read content that makes sense – well it doesn’t matter what their social media strategy is if their stuff is just more enjoyable to dig through. I know that this isn’t going to jive with some people, but unfortunately this is the case. This is a world that increasingly favors those who can express themselves with writing and if you can do it in the benzadrine prose of social media then people are going to be a lot more likely to latch on to whatever thoughts your group is throwing into the void of the collective subconscious.
The best way to get better at communicating with your fans is simply to do it more often. The greater time that you dedicate to talking to fans or potential fans the faster you are going to see yourself rise. People want the cool memories that they can only get by spending time with their favorite artists or an artist who they think can one day be great. It’s easy to forget that a lot of people involved in local music just kind of want to know a band before they get famous and that’s a huge part of the appeal. This is not an industry that caters well to ‘rock stars’ or pretentious assholes who think they should be rock stars. Instead just be cool and make friends, it’ll get you places.