How to Attract a Super Fan

Do you have an artist you LOVE?

Is there an Artist you would wait on line for hours, or buy tickets for days, weeks, even months ahead of time?

Who do you GEEK out over?

We tend to talk about wanting to create and build super fans, but if you are anything like me, you are probably a super fan yourself!

I remember going to my very first concert when I was 14 years old, to see Richard Marx.  My best friend and I screamed through the whole thing and I sang along to every song.  At one point in the concert, I was thoroughly convinced he looked right at ME, and that was enough for me to buy a poster and sing along to his songs in my bedroom daily, holding my hairbrush with fervor.

Did you ever do this?
Maybe you do this now!

Months ago, my husband bought us tickets to see Lady Gaga in her Jazz and Piano show in Las Vegas, and the day finally arrived. We saw the show last weekend and I was completely blown away.

Lady Gaga is completely sold out.  She has even extended her residency at the Park MGM through next year because the show is doing so well.

And after seeing the show, I can understand why.

So many of you come to me asking how you can build your audience, and it can be so easy to get caught in the mystery of how successful Artists do it. You may feel lost or frustrated.  I get it!

But the recipe is actually far easier than you think, and Lady Gaga hit all the points.  There’s many reasons she has raving fans who will fly across the country to see her, and these are the core pieces you want to incorporate.

So, grab you pencil and pen, because we are going to take the mystery right out of it.

1) Acknowledge and include your audience: Lady Gaga was overflowing with gratitude for all of us who gathered to see her.  She spoke directly to us, as if we were having a conversation.  In between songs, she had stories to share, and many times thanked us for being there. She was very intentional to say how much the audience meant to her. 

Why this mattered for ME as a fan: I felt appreciated.

2) Be real: It wasn’t just that Lady Gaga had stories to share, it was WHAT she shared.  She was very real, speaking into how lonely she feels, and the deep challenges around mental health with fame.  At one point she even looked at us and said, “I want you to understand me”.  She wasn’t putting on a persona, she was stepping forward with ALL of her to the stage, sharing how she is looking for love.

Why this mattered for ME as a fan: I trusted her.  I felt closer to her as a person, not just a performer.

3) Acknowledge your journey and the people who have helped you: We are stronger together.  Lady Gaga was up on that stage with a full jazz orchestra who was AMAZING, and she took every opportunity she could to acknowledge them, to highlight them, and to speak about the work they do together.  She spoke about Tony Bennett and how he was instrumental in giving her the confidence to do her own jazz show. She even gave a plug for everyone to go see her bandleader Brian Newman’s show later that night.  The industry has enough challenges, so it’s your team that matters most.  She really understands and speaks about her relationships and how they have helped her to this stage.

Why this mattered to ME as a fan: I felt included, and inspired.  I believe the same thing and agree with her.

4) Create solid work: This show was rock solid.  From the costumes to the music, to the video interludes, it was seamless.  There was enormous thought and CARE taken with this show, and I felt it.  Almost three hours in length, Lady Gaga delivered.  And it was was even more than I could have hoped for.  The musicians were on it, Lady Gaga was on it, and the tech was seamless.  There are a LOT of elements that go into sharing your work with your audience.  Be sure to take the time to practice, and create work that is solid and flows.

Why this mattered to ME as a fan: I was amazed, I was blown away! This was my first time seeing her in concert and now I know what to expect, and it’s incredible!

5) Be YOU: It wasn’t just Lady Gaga’s rawness that resonated with me, it was also how unique she was in her interpretations of the Great American Songbook, and I loved that!  Here she was in 6 inch heels, in a sparkly dress, and flashing us her underwear and dancing gleefully around the stage.  She really put her own spin on these songs, and performed them the way SHE wanted to.  While inspired by the greats, she had a clear vision of what she wanted to bring to the material, and to the audience.  She was raunchy, real, raw, silly, deep, and allowed her interpretation to shine through. 

Why this mattered to ME as a fan: I was inspired. I found my greatest success as a performer when I trusted myself and my own interpretations of material and released my perfectionism. 

We get really caught up in thinking we have to “have it all together”, but when we are actually grounded in our confidence and work, we end up creating the greatest connection WITH our audience.

Look at all the ways I was affected and moved by Lady Gaga:
I felt appreciated
I trusted her
I felt closer to her
I felt included
I felt inspired
I was blown away!

Creating super fans is really creating an amazing relationship, and you have all the tools within you.  Think of who inspires you..come back to the question at the top….who are you a super fan of?

Why?

What do they do and how does that make you FEEL?

Connection is the key, and it begins with knowing yourself and what makes you come back again and again to the artists you LOVE.

How can you incorporate these aspects for your work?

How can you
Acknowledge your audience
Be real
Acknowledge your journey and your team
Create solid work
Be YOU

Place your focus there, because the rest just flows.

From your heart to theirs, a beautiful energetic loop.

Momentum

Oh, for the sake of momentum
I’ve allowed my fears to get larger than life
And it’s brought me to my current agendum
Whereupon I deny fulfillment has yet to arrive

And I know life is getting shorter
I can’t bring myself to set the scene
Even when it’s approaching torture
I’ve got my routine

But I can’t confront the doubts I have
I can’t admit that maybe the past was bad
And so, for the sake of momentum
I’m condemning the future to death
So it can match the past.

-Aimee Mann

Keep moving.
Keep going.
Don’t stop.

This was what was playing in my head over and over again. 

I had my routine.

Snooze once or twice in the morning. 
Take a shower and listen to the radio.
Do some light stretching.
Warm up my voice. 
Set my hair in hot rollers and put on my makeup. 
Pin my hair into place, pack up my backpack with my audition book and dance shoes, and then grab my headphones and blast music into my ears as I walked out the door. 
Drown out the outside world, and then come home at the end of the day and watch 2-3 hours of TV.

Day after day.
Audition after audition.
Dance class, voice lessons, on camera classes.

Callback…..don’t book it.
Callback…don’t book it.
Callback….don’t book it.

I had come to New York City to be on Broadway, and come close SO many times, and yet it remained elusive as each year went on.

I worked in every other venue there was, Off Broadway, National Tours, National Commercials, Regional Theater, and yet…this was my ceiling.

I was so frustrated.

But I couldn’t stop.
I had to keep going.
I had to go to the next audition and the next, and keep up my classes, because that was what was going to GET me there.

There was great momentum behind me, and I wasn’t going to slow down.  Time was swiftly passing by.  I was approaching my late 30’s and freaking out.  And what was playing over and over again in my head was a record saying,
You should have BEEN there by now.

My marriage was falling apart, but I had to keep going.
I was drinking too much, but I had to keep going.
I was trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t working, but I had to keep going.

Until it all fell apart.

In one year’s time, everything I knew of my life changed.  I went through a divorce, was robbed twice, lost a dear friend to a heart attack, and was in two car accidents.

I didn’t work in my profession. There weren’t any Broadway auditions.  No one was calling, and even if they did, I was a mess.

I remember going in for a regional production and having to sing the classic ballad, My Funny Valentine.  The words choked in my throat, and I barely made it through the song.  The casting director knew I was going through a divorce and came out after to give me a hug.  Everyone in the biz knew, I was so embarrassed, and I thought,
Will I be able to sing again?
Will they ever hire me again?

The momentum of my life came to a screeching halt, and something radical came in.

Silence.
Quiet.

I started asking for help, and found Zen Buddhism which taught me that,
Change is constant. Nothing is permanent.

I started to meditate, took the headphones out of my ears, and truly took the time to ask,
HOW did I get here?
What led to this?

I stopped snoozing my alarm, and found I actually had time.
Time to understand the WHY and HOW of my journey.
Time to face my doubts and fears, and actually transform them.

And time to wake up and make new choices.

I realized I had been condemning my future to look JUST like my past, by not stopping and actually asking the question,
Why am I here?

And when I finally had the support to ask this in a loving way, and had skillful guidance to move forward, my life transformed.

I started singing again, and sang the best I had in my whole career.
I booked a ton of work.
And the industry now saw me for ALL of who I was, and most importantly, they saw me for my strength, not the ordeal I had gone through.

The fear that I would never “make it” literally disappeared, and in it’s place was just inspired action and creating a new life that fulfilled me.

I stopped chasing the dream, and instead woke every day to create it.

So, what is your routine?

What have you decided will just “always be”?

Complacency can be deeply destructive, and rob you of your confidence, and the longer we try to shove our fears and doubts under the bed or into the closet, the larger they become.

They don’t go away until we acknowledge them.

And that begins with the single most important tool you can cultivate to create change,
Compassion.

We first have to FEEL the disappointment in order to transform it to powerful action.

We can’t skip over this step, because it’s always running underneath and playing out in subconscious ways.  It’s playing out in your small audience, in colleagues who are untrustworthy, in low-balling your prices and never asking for what you are actually worth.

So, what if this momentum is purely driven by your actions?
This is great news, because it means you have the ABILITY to stop it.

You have the ability to CHANGE your actions.

You have the ability to make different choices.

What if your future could look different than your past?

Start by acknowledging it and allow it to be a teacher.  Allow your past actions to point to what hasn’t been working, and most importantly, accept this with compassion. This isn’t about making you wrong or bad.

There is no problem here.
You are just waking up, and that’s when you access your power.

Today is a new day, one you have never lived before.

With compassion and skillful guidance, stop and ask,
How did I get here?

The answers are within you, as is your greatest power.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography