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Your Fans and Friends Are Not The Same
You may be at or fast approaching the point where you are seeing more people at your shows and on your facebook, twitter or other accounts that you don't know. This is a good sign for your progress as an artist, a singer, a musician. You are reaching a point where your hard work of networking, connecting with your audience and promoting are all paying off. Just keep in mind that the people who newly have your attention have a few important differences from your first supporters- your friends! Once you remember these differences and treat the individuals who fail into either respective category the way they should you may avoid lots of loss in your career and your personal life.
Your Friends Are Your First Supporters
Think about what it is like to support someone from the infancy of his or her craft. Think about how they may have bombed a stage once or played to just you and the few people you brought along. Those are your friends. They are not at your shows simply because they think your music is great but because they feel that you are great! Your spirit is what drives them out the pay for admission and minimum drinks at a venue you got booked at at the last minute.
They have invested time. Just like an angel investor invests money for a business and requires a portion back, don't forget about your friends who have invested time into your work! Don't treat them like they are fans once you get them, treat them as a part of the team.
I love sayings like "Don't expect to ride in the limo with me if you wouldn't ride with me on the bus." That puts things in perspective. I you have "friends" who have only appeared when your "limo" did, you may want to exclude them from the first category and evaluate their purpose in your circle as well... but I digress. Of course I don't mean that everyone you call your friend is going to come out and support you for everything that you do but keep in mind the people that are there when you need them, come to the majority of your shows, or tell the rest of their friends, followers and more to support you.
Has it gotten easier for you to balance your friends and "fan" relationships?
Fans Are Like Extended Supporters
These are the people that will eventually keep your music machine rolling. Your fans are the people who come out to your shows not because they know you as a person and have an initial intimate connection to you but because they fell in love with your sound. They love your music and in fact really like your brand as a whole.
Fans are the supporters who pay for your tickets from $5-$30 or whatever charge there may be and merchandise but do not view it as a donation but as a cost of being your fan. This is how they keep you going because friends do not fund your career, fans fund your career.
The flip side to the fan is that they can go as quickly as they come because their allegiance is not to you the person but you the artist. If the artist is not great, the music sucked, or you have bad publicity your fans may very well leave, your friends might not.
Friends that have close connection with you who supported you during those first free shows will help you through bumps in the road and any other hard time over the phone or as you lay on their couch like you're speaking with Dr. Phil. Can you picture yourself doing that with one of your fans? Imagine Kerry Washington calling one of her "Gladiator" fans about a personal problem she may be having. It would be all over the news, TMZ, blogs and anywhere else. See the point here?
Keep Both Groups Happy
You are never going to satisfy everyone but you can cover the majority of both of these groups. Keep your fans happy and stay true to them with your music. Like anyone else, how you get them is how you keep them. Continue to put out great music that is in line with your brand.
Keep your friends in the loop. Do not isolate them from what is going on in your life and your career. No one likes to be left in the dark, especially if they helped you reach the light. Be sure to continue to invite them to your birthday parties, go to their events whenever you can, connect with them in ways that you always have and connect with your fans in the appropriate settings like, at a gig, meet and greets, or social media.