The Secret to Raving Fans

Have you ever wondered what the REAL secret is with having raving fans?

Have you ever seen people absolutely foaming at the mouth for the next piece of art from their favorite Artist and questioned,
How come that’s not happening to me?

These audiences are lining up around the block for the next,
Bruno Mars concert ticket
Game of Thrones book
Hamilton Broadway ticket
Entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre
Release of the latest Harry Potter….

You scratch your head as you look at another lukewarm reception to your latest release, or random clapping to your performance and go,
WHAT the HECK?!

How do Artists have these massive followings on Instagram?
How do Artists sell out their concerts?
How do Artists get top dollar for their original work?
How do Artists make it to the NY Times Bestseller List?

Because, at the root of the question is,
I’m working so hard, why isn’t this happening for ME?

Super frustrating, right?

I hear you.  I felt the same way.  I was killing myself with dance classes, voice lessons, meeting casting directors, having perfect head shots and eye-catching audition outfits…and yet I hit a ceiling.

My talent was not reflecting my audience.  There was a disconnect.  For my level, I should have been CHOOSING between different Broadway shows….and yet, I couldn’t make it past final callbacks to even book ONE.

Have you ever felt this?
What do we do in this moment?

How do we turn it around and truly receive the acclaim we desire?

How does our effort and talent actually equate to a thriving career and raving fans that support, cherish and love us?

 

This past weekend I went to see one of my closest friends, Lisa, present her MFA Thesis project at Martha Graham Studios.  The culmination of two years of work, I couldn’t wait.

Lisa is one of the top jazz teachers in NYC, and I take her class weekly.  She’s a real anomaly in the dance world, as she specializes in technical jazz.  So much of the classical jazz form in dance has been watered down, and Lisa has really stayed more true to the art, keeping it very technical and clean.  It’s solid, and I always leave sweating, strong, and smiling. And I’m never alone….

She has a packed class every week.  She has students that come back, regulars who have been taking her for years, and because of her class they are booking company work and theater gigs. We are FANS, plain and simple.

So, it’s no surprise to know that when Lisa’s MFA Thesis performance piece was over, the whole audience leapt to their feet, shouting and screaming.  The dancers were glowing, Lisa was beaming, and we all felt fabulous.

But Lisa was not the only choreographer to present her work that night.  She was actually second, and the first performance was beyond painful.

I actually wanted to walk out.

How can this be possible?
Two choreographers going through the same program, and yet one created a desire to leave, and the other had me on my feet ready for more?

And it all comes down to ONE thing:
Connection.

On the first piece, the choreographer (who also danced in the piece) was literally having a temper tantrum on stage.  At one point she was gasping and screaming in circles on the ground, and all I could think was,
Do you care I am here?

What was Missing?
CONNECTION TO THE AUDIENCE.

I felt completely disconnected watching her piece.  I felt completely in the dark about what was really going on, but most of all, I felt she didn’t CARE whether or not I was involved.

And I was not alone.  When her piece awkwardly ended, there was barely any clapping.  Hands barely met, as I imagine everyone was confused.

Will I return to see this choreographer’s work again?
No.

Will the rest of the audience?
I doubt it.

Why?
We were not included in the performance.
We were on the outside.

Her piece was purely about her, her rage, and her pain.  It literally was akin to a two year old having a tantrum to say, ME ME ME!  As a new choreographer, she made a mistake I see Artists of all ages make again and again,
they FORGET to include their audience.
They forget about the WE.

Because honestly, there is no Artist without an Audience, and there is no Audience without an Artist.  It’s a relationship. It goes TWO ways.

So, why did Lisa’s piece receive a standing ovation?
We were included.  Energetically, physically, in every way…..and that translates to raving fans.

And trust me, I GET the desire to express rage.  In fact, some of the most powerful work happening right now is dealing with very dark issues, like depression, inequality, racism, and bullying.

Dear Evan Hansen, speaking into bullying, is THE top ticket on Broadway right now, and it’s extremely dark….but the difference comes in the HOW. The difference comes in YOUR intention.

The writers of Dear Evan Hansen are looking to raise awareness around this topic, they are looking to ENGAGE the audience, and ask powerful questions so that they then go into the world and make new choices.

People leave inspired, not shut down.

Because, let’s be honest……we don’t need more isolation.

We don’t need more messages telling us we are alone, no one cares, and we don’t matter.  People, YOUR AUDIENCE is starving for connection.  In a world where communication seems to mostly happen electronically, where we find out our friends challenges through a social media platform, where the next generation has lost the ability to have a face to face conversation when they are scared…..

Art matters.
Art is a catalyst.

It allows our audience to access their emotions in a way nothing else does.

So, take a moment and ask yourself:
Are you connecting with your Audience?
Are you including them in your Work?
Are you engaging with them?

And most of all…what is your INTENTION?

Is it to connect or isolate?

 

Be clear on WHY you are creating in the first place.  If you are receiving lukewarm applause, come back to center, and back to square one.

Come out of isolation.

Set your intention to connect and include them.  Engage with them, and learn what they NEED.  Learn what they WANT, and then partner together.

This is a relationship.  Cultivate it with love and mutual understanding.

They come to you starved, feed them, and in doing so, feed yourself.

Open the loop and let them in.

Coming Home

I’m in a room.  The same I am in every morning at 6:30 am.  A brown couch behind me, and a TV in front. The door is shut and in the distance I can hear my brother playing Mozart in the living room.

I open my music stand, adjusting the height, my small fingers clicking the lock into place, and for a moment the overhead light flashes silver before I place a large book on top.

Suzuki scales.

Bending down, I open my case and take a deep breath, almost holding it, because all I hear as my hands lift my violin to my chin is a loud voice in my head saying,

I’m not good enough

And then my small bow hits the string, and I go through my practice, stretching my short fingers. Gotta get it in before I catch the school bus for second grade.

 

Remember childhood?

What was yours like? Did you begin your Art when you were young?

I grew up in a military household that was very musical.  My mother told both my brother and I we would take an instrument, and we could pick whatever that was. He chose piano.

For some insane reason I chose violin.

I used to always say that I never really excelled at violin because we moved around so much and each time we would come to a new military base, I would have a new teacher that would say,

Forget everything you’ve been taught. What you are doing is wrong. This is the proper technique.

But recently, I think I have been able to really get to the heart of it.  And I was surprised to learn that my violin and the feelings around it were actually the key to me moving forward in my Artistry and being successful.

I was a very artistic child, and was also in dance class and loved every minute of creative writing.

But the violin?

It always felt hard, and most of all, I felt like I couldn’t catch up or do it right.

What was it for you?
What was giving you that message as a child?
How has this affected you as an adult Artist?

 

I recently worked with a powerful coach named Tom Tynan, who led me through his process to uncover my core limiting belief, and when I wrote it down, I knew it was true…..even though it felt so cliche.  But there it was, in my own writing…

I am not enough

And in his process, he led me back to the child part of me that first had that belief, and guess who I met?

The 7 year old practicing violin every morning.

In all her glory, and with her best intentions to try and be lovable, and do right, be a good daughter and be a great musician…..she would get up every school morning to practice for 30 minutes.

But she never felt it was good enough. Her teachers weren’t reinforcing that, and it wasn’t joyful.

Not like writing…not like dance…not like singing in the church musical and playing a kazoo loudly for all to hear.

So, what did I do when I met her?

I hugged her.
I told her, “you are amazing!”

And she beamed, and hugged me back.  And then, I told her it was time to come home.  She didn’t have to be in isolation anymore. She could be a part of me and no longer feed the belief that I’m not enough.

Now, I could ask the question instead,
How AM I enough?

 

As artists and creatives we can have a very strong inner critic. And we have to ask the question, where did this begin from?

We are fully formed by the time we are 7 years old, and while the adults around us all had the best intentions and were working with whatever tools they had, our innocence can really suffer.

Especially with the Arts.

Our expression is very emotional, and can get tied up in our self worth.  We care so deeply about our dance, our music, our words, and art.

And the good news is, it can nourish us and feed us as we grow to create incredible work in the world.

But, take a moment to ask, what is that voice saying to you?

Or better yet, what is that voice truly asking FOR?

My career ended up being in musical theatre, and now with my business I use my writing a lot.  While I did choose violin as a six year old, it may have been because that is what was going to eventually open me to believing the most empowering belief,

I am enough.

And isn’t that what we are truly looking for as Creatives?

Enough to connect with our audience
Enough to put our work out to the world
Enough to stand center stage in the spotlight and been seen for all our glorious gifts
Enough to truly thrive and make a solid living doing what we love

And what’s more loving than embracing that inner child that has been calling to be seen?

So, take a moment and listen….tune in and get curious.  Close your eyes and see where your inner critic began….and find that child that wanted more than anything to express themselves with abandon, crayons in hand.

Give them a hug, and bring them home.

And then share your glorious voice.