Musicians and fans are often on a different wavelength. It’s the same in many relationships. You give your lover what you want them to give you. But it doesn’t work if your lover wants something else. Isn’t that the premise behind the love languages? A relationship works when each party gives the other what they want. Let’s take a look at what you may be obsessing over that your fans don’t necessarily care about and some suggestion about how you can really connect with fans.
- Sound – Musicians are way too technical. Most fans can’t hear the same things you hear when you’re playing your music. They are not practiced at listening for the little nuances of a guitar riff or that awesome chord on the keyboard you developed. As a music fan, I listen for whether the entire song is put together well and I can follow the verses, chorus, hook and bridge.
- Producer and studio – Fans don’t make their buying decision on what producer or studio produced your music. Maybe one percent of fans may care because they happen to have another album produced by the same studio or have a bias towards that producer. Fans want to know about you not your producer. Spend more time telling your fans about you and the songs that you write/sing. They want to feel like they know the artist in whom they are investing. Having an award-winning producer or top-notch studio does not guarantee success of the album.
- Selling music – Let’s face it. It the Internet age, information is key. Fans buy who they know. If they don’t know you, they won’t buy from you. It’s time to stop trying to sell your music to random people who don’t know who you are. It’s time to get your name out there. Hire a publicist to get you some press, start a blog or vlog, do some videos on Periscope or Facebook Live. Fans need to know you, like you and trust you before they’ll buy from you.
- Album release parties – These are great for introducing your new music to people who already know you. But if you’re trying to get new fans, the album release party isn’t they way to go. For more info on how to reach new artists, see #3.
- Streaming audio – A lot of musicians are constantly telling their fans to listen to their music on SoundCloud, ReverbNation or Bandcamp. They think it looks good to their fans that they’re on those sites, like they’ve been specially chosen or something. What’s really going on is that you’re spending a good deal of money to have a profile on those sites and you’re sending them lots of traffic and making them lots of money. What you really should be doing is using the tools that those sites provide to build up your own website and drive your fans there. Your website should have a store where your fans can purchase your music and other branded merchandise. SoundCloud and ReverbNation provide widgets that you can place on your site so your fans can listen to your music on your own home on the web. Your site should also be collecting email addresses so you can keep in touch with your fans and continue selling to them. They should get in the habit of buying directly from you instead of iTunes so you keep more of your money instead of sharing it with Apple’s shareholders.
Now that we know music fans don’t care about these things, it’s time to find out what music fans do care about and start doing those things. Otherwise you’ll keep playing in obscurity and never reach your audience effectively. The bottom line is to focus on the people who will spend money on your music. There’s an old saying “Give the people what they want!” And what they want is to know you, like you and trust you.