Maintaining Artist, Fan Connections 6 Feet Apart

With venue doors closed and tours cancelled across the world, artists are being forced to reinvent not only their careers but also their relationships with fans. So how does one build a connection from at least six feet away?

Guest post by Christal Hector, CEO at TuneHatch

Growing up, many of us have heard the old saying, “life is about relationships.” Though often thought of in the context of everyday individual relationships, businesses, actors, and, of course, music artists, rely on maintaining strong, positive relationships with their fans or customers to reach the heights of success. For independent artists, in particular, these relationships form the bedrock of their livelihoods.

During these times of social distancing, closed venues struggling to re-open, and overwhelming fears of contracting a potentially deadly disease, independent artists must find new ways to relate to and interact with their fanbase, as well as attract new fans to their following. Is it possible to build relationships with the same strength and vitality from 6 feet apart? Well, here are some tips that go beyond the music, based on anecdotal experience over the past 3 months of lockdown.

Authentically Engage on Social Platforms

This one sounds like a gimmie. We’ve all heard that we should post more on social media to maintain our “top of mind” presence with our fans, but engagement via social channels doesn’t end there.

A core part of engaging with fans, and gaining new ones, is showing who you are and what you stand for, as well as responding to comments in a human way. Let’s break that down.

Who are you? Beyond being a music artist, you are a human being with thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Many independent artists feel that they have to copy the rote “stock photo of the band with a vague or inspirational quote” theme to be accepted. Others only post when they have a new release or show coming up. The key is to give your fans a glimpse into who you are behind the music. This creates a sense of relatability. Think about your own favorite artists. We’re willing to bet that you love them for reasons beyond the music they make. Likely, you love them because you feel you know them and can relate to them on a level that resonates with your core being.

Knowing what you stand for goes hand in hand with showing who you are. Especially during times like these when there’s a lot of division and agitation across the world, it’s important to communicate to your following where you stand on issues that you feel strongly about, keeping in mind the social responsibility to build up, rather than tear down, society. You never know who you may educate or make feel like they’re not alone.

Let your fans have the honor of knowing you as an individual, and watch as your following grows in number and loyalty as you capture their hearts through unabashed authenticity.

Respond to Outreach

For any relationship to thrive, both sides must feel heard, seen, and valued. It’s easy to take in the praises of others without feeling the need to reciprocate, but this back and forth dynamic is crucial to nurturing your relationships with your fans.

Let’s call your fans’ actions towards you “outreach.” Outreach can be online comments, interactions via livestreams, the purchase of your merch or album, and more. In the case of comments or livestream interactions, you may be able to respond directly to each individual commenter. As far as music sales or streams go, a message addressing your followers in general should suffice. In either case, communication from your end in response to their actions shows that you value your fans.

Your fans are not numbers. They are living, breathing, emotional human beings, like you and me. As we’ve seen many a time with even the biggest artists, if enough of your fans feel unvalued, they will leave, and your career will sink faster than you can imagine.

To show your fans they’re valued, make it apparent that you notice what they have done for you and that their support is meaningful to you. By replying to their comments, you show that you think highly enough of them to take the time to respond.

Naturally, your response should be authentic. Human to human. When your response comes from the heart, not only will your fans keep coming back for more, you yourself will feel good, knowing that you may have made someone’s day shine brighter than before.

Seek to Tell Your Story through Different Outlets

Beyond social platforms, there are many opportunities for independent artists to expand their reach in order to build relationships beyond their immediate following. For example, TuneHatch is conducting virtual artist interviews and online concert series to continue to amplify the voices of independent artists in the U.S. and across the world.

Another great resource is YouTube. This website not only gives your brand front row access to eyes of the world, but it can potentially turn into an extra stream of revenue through ads or merch sales. Seeing as virtually everyone on earth who has internet access uses YouTube, we’d say it can’t hurt to try it out.

We’d also recommend you post your music to popular streaming sites, like Spotify, Soundcloud, and more. Many independent artists have been avoiding platforms like Spotify, following in the steps of Taylor Swift and Prince, due to seemingly unfair artist compensation. While we empathize with this sentiment, posting your music to these platforms is about more than what you’ll get paid in the short term. It’s about giving potential fans a way to find you, regardless of their preferred listening habits. If a potential fan happens to see you in person and falls head over heels for your music but only listens to music on Spotify otherwise, if your music is not on Spotify, you may lose out on a fiery new addition to your tribe. Give streaming platforms a chance, as they’re helpful in more ways than you may think.

Lastly, volunteer to make or perform songs for charity. Sure, you might not make money this way, but giving back is part of what will make your life as an artist, and, generally, as an individual, more rounded and fulfilling. You could get involved with charities like Sing Me a Story, in which you’d write a song for a child with cancer or other ailment based on a story they’ve written. Or, you can perform in charity concerts series, like the COVID 19 Solidarity charity series and the fight against racial injustice charity series held by TuneHatch. Never underestimate the power of giving back!

All in all, despite the disruption in the world that has kept us apart for so long, independent artists can still remain connected to their fans and make new ones along the way. It just takes being yourself, showing you care, and being open to opportunities you may never have tried before.

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