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Michelle-shaprow Michelle Shaprow is an emerging jazz pop singer whose debut album, Purple Skies, is currently available on iTunes with her first video for the single, Back Down To Earth, available via YouTube. I'm writing about her today to ask Hypebot readers for feedback on challenges she faces at this point in her career based on her personal approach to building her fanbase.

Michelle initially received some visibility in the music world via her guest spots on a variety of dance tracks. However, it was not until she began focusing on softer, jazzier songs that she felt truly at home. She has a light, relatively quiet voice that gives her work a personal, intimate feel and an approach to marketing to match. One may not typically think of marketing as an intimate process but Michelle has focused on direct contact with her fans, primarily via Facebook, even as they have grown into the thousands.

Michelle Shaprow: Back Down To Earth, Directed by Dustin Highbridge

She has also developed and maintained many of her business connections online. For example, she met her video director online. She has never interacted face to face with the label in Japan, P-Vine Records, that helped take her album to #1 on iTunes Japan jazz albums chart and three singles simultaneously to the top three positions on iTunes Japan jazz albums chart. Relations with her Korean label, Leaplay Music, are all online and many of the relationships that are helping her grow her fanbase were made via the Web.

Shaprow  also met Michelle Phan via Facebook. Phan's fashion and makeup videos on YouTube regularly pass a million views. When Phan subsequently featured Shaprow's music, it certainly helped broaden her awareness and increased fans of her Facebook page where you can get a sense of her direct and individual interactions with fans.

Still Answering Every Email -

Michelle has maxed out her personal Facebook account and her Facebook page is now over 6,000. She's still answering all emails and interacting with fans in her comments section. This situation sometimes leads to emails being answered weeks later, especially if she's in the middle of projects like her video shoot. Our conversation about her career plans and approach was inspired, in part, by my wondering just how she expected to maintain such personal interaction if her fanbase grew into the tens of thousands or higher. My assumption was that she would have to let that go but she has no intention of so doing.

Michelle does have some thoughts on how to proceed, noting that many of her fan interactions fall into basic information requests or inappropriate attempts at more personal contact. So having someone help with categorizing communication and responding to general info requests seem plausible without giving up direct contact when the message goes beyond, "when's your album coming out" or "can I have your phone number".

A related aspect of her future planning is her interest in finding alternatives to the typical mad push to get as big as possible, tour as much as possible and make as many pr appearances as possible. Though she does want to tour in a sane manner, finding ways to build and prosper without making the typical assumptions is high on her list. Connecting personally with all her fans is not just a maneuver to build a fanbase but the manner in which she intends to conduct her business.

The Questions:

  • How can Michelle maintain personal contact with her fans as their numbers grow?
  • How can she maintain her personal touch and accessibility as she explores touring and public appearances?

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. Flux Research is his business writing hub and All World Dance is his primary web project.