Why Fans Are More Important Than Listeners
It's impossible to please everyone, and trying to winner every casual listeners is a futile effort. Instead, artists are better off focusing on their core diehard fans – an overall more easily targeted, easier to keep happy group.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
You will never please everyone, so don’t bother trying to win over those who don’t care. One-thousand diehard fans are better than one-million casual listeners any day of the week.
One of the biggest lies that has been sold to us in business is the idea of that constant growth is the only way to be successful. Take a look at the largest corporations around the globe, and you will find that they are obsessed with finding ways to increase their bottom line. They want to raise revenue and cut costs no matter what, year after year, until the end of time (or the end of their business).
We bought into this thinking for a long time as well. When we first started Haulix, our goal was to be the industry’s only promotional distribution platform. We had competition even back then, but we were headstrong and confident in our product. Ten years later and the competition has only increased, all while the industry has undergone one of the most radical changes in its one-hundred-year history. We’re still here, we’re bigger than ever, but you know what? We’re still not sure if we’re truly the biggest company in our market and we’re okay with that. Really!
You don’t want to be for everyone. When everyone relies on you the opportunity to be unique is removed because you continuously have to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Creativity thrives in the margins. You want to appeal to people who get what you’re doing, and you want to empower them to spread the good word about your creative output to those who will listen. Anything beyond that, any attempt to cater to people who otherwise wouldn’t give you the time of day, is a hollow effort that will eventually burn out.
The artists who thrive in today’s industry do so because they understand the value of a fan. A single fan can do more for your career than a thousand people who hear your song on the radio and think it’s “pretty good.” You know why? Because real fans feel your success in music is somehow representative of their success in life. If you can make it, they can too, or vice verse. Real fans join you on the journey.
The only way to attract this type of fan is to be true to yourself. Make the music you want to make, and the fans will follow. It may only be a few at first, but if you engage with them and make it known their support is appreciated more fans will follow in time. You see, people like to be appreciated because it means they matter to someone or something, and when they feel that way they are inclined to promote whatever makes them feel as though they belong.
You don’t want to appeal to everyone. Those who appeal to everyone are destined to get lost in the shuffle when the next great artist or song comes along. You want to appeal to the people who feel the way you do right now. If you can manage that, the sky is the limit for your career. Maybe you won’t be an international star performing to sixty-thousand people a night, but you will find a way to earn money from your creativity while engaging with like-minded people. The value of that experience has no price. It is something rare and true and only allotted to those who chase their dreams to the fullest without sacrificing themselves in the process.
Stay who you are. The rest will follow.
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.