In the important book, “The Cluetrain Manifesto“, Doc Searls writes, “Markets are nothing more than conversations.” When I read that sentence, it blew my mind. Not only is that powerful in a general context, but it is potent if you replace the word “markets” with “fanbases”.
Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines, blogs, forums, comment sections and reviews blanket the internet. Everyone is talking, and every brand (i.e. artist) is held at the mercy of these conversations.
If you take a moment right now to stop looking at your fanbase as purely a demographic, and instead actually imagine a real, living, breathing human being with a family, goals, and values, things begin to change. What does that person care about? What is worth her time? And, most importantly, what does she talk about with her friends?
At this point, there are two hard questions to ask yourself.
1. Are you doing anything worth talking about?
This sounds like a harsh or demeaning question, but it really isn’t. It’s a plain and simple one. It’s good to zone in on the art you’re passionate about creating, but, once your creation exists in the world, it’s difficult to shift that passion into something that transcends yourself and touches others. You can complain that having good music isn’t enough to get noticed, or you can face reality, be resourceful and creative, and do the work you’re capable of. It’s completely your choice.
2. Can you provide your fans with shareable tools that spark conversation and connection?
People love discovering and connecting with members of a common circle. This is why it’s exciting when you meet someone who loves the same restaurant, movie, or random author you’ve been reading for years. As a musician, you have the rare privilege and opportunity to actually be the source of this connection between two strangers. Don’t take that lightly. Think about the types of values your fanbase has, what they talk about, and what they care about. Then, think creatively about what you can provide them with (aside from your songs) to spark a conversation.
Your fanbase will grow as people share your music with friends. Then this fanbase will begin to feel more like a true community, and the opportunities are endless from there. Most powerfully, you’ll be able to see these conversations in real-time all over the internet, knowing you were the spark that caused them all.
2) Beyond Music