Fan support for musicians is a two way street. You make the music, release the CDs, and play the shows. You need fans to show up at the gigs, buy the CDs, or spread the buzz about you or you don't have an audience. When these two elements are out of balance, your musical endeavors can get sidelined.
That's why it's so important to always embrace the positive, well-meaning encouragement you receive from your fans. If I could sum up what fans want most of all from an artist, it's not only to be reached through your work, but to also be able to reach back in return. It's a great privilege for fans to give back something positive that the artists bring to us.
Here are three ways to keep that fan loyalty working for you:
1. Accept your performance compliments graciously. Maybe you had an off night. Maybe you didn't feel you were in the pocket as often as you expected to be. If people come up to you and tell you they thought you were great, that is exactly what it means to them. They are there to be an encouragement for you. Even though you didn't think you reached anyone, they felt you got through to them. So, don't beat yourself up or diffuse it by saying how lousy you thought you were. Remember, the hearts' desire of the fan is to reach you, too. Say thank you and show your appreciation.
Modesty is always an admirable trait--but don't take it to the extreme. The fans who have spent the better part of a year or so communicating to you why they think you're the best singer are going to feel badly if you say in an interview that you don't have much confidence in your vocal abilities or your performance. That tells the fans they have not been successful in getting the message through to you. That can be very disappointing to fans and make them wonder, well, what's the point of saying anything at all. And there you go, letting encouragement slip through your fingers.
2. Acknowledge your fan base. You can show some love to the fans by doing something to demonstrate that you are connecting with them. Think about a regular communication vehicle above and beyond, such as an email or online newsletter where you make direct communication with fans. If you have a message board on your website, try dropping in now and then just to say hi and let folks know you're hearing them.
Here's one "be aware" in this area, though. If you are one of those with a broad or growing popularity base, you have the challenge of keeping a lot of people who want to be noticed by you happy. It's nice to recognize deserving fans on your websites and other communications. But if you mention the same people too often, it might create the impression of favoritism, which could possibly cause jealousy and hurt feelings among fans. If you do something for one, others might want it as well. So be sure it's as much as you can handle. You would be surprised how many fans do know each other and compare notes!
Besides those fans that are particularly visible or diligently make themselves known, there can be others giving solid support for you behind the scenes. You probably are unaware of them because they may be a little more on the shy side, haven't had the contact opportunities others have or just can't seem to stick out enough for you to take notice. But that's not to say they don't want to hear they are appreciated. So do give credit to those who are due--doing that privately is nice, too. But, be sure you give ALL of your fans those "virtual group hugs" from time to time!
3. Keep communications current. If you have a website, keep it regularly updated. If you don't show enough commitment to keep your information up to speed on gigs, recordings, features and all, people will stop coming by after a while. After all, how can fans encourage you when they don't know where, when and how?
With all of the options that exist for communication between artists and fans, when it's done in a positive, uplifting manner it's a win-win situation for your career and for the people who are out there waiting to enjoy your gifts!
Wendy Vickers is a writer, encourager, life coach, speaker and author of two audiobooks: "Treasures In the Tip Jar: the Art of Awesome Fan Support" (from which this article is taken) and "Out of the Jar...And Into the World." Wendy offers resources, encouragement and support for musicians at her websites http://wendyv.com and http://embraceencouragement.com