Hoping you enjoyed our last post, here is the second part of our guest series.
This Week’s Guests:
Randy Alexander (Randex Communications), Wendy Brynford-Jones (Hello Wendy), Heather West (Western Publicity), Bruce Burch (University of Georgia)
What we asked:
What should artists write about to fans when they don’t have a new album/tour to promote?
Randy owns Randex Communications, a twice nationally nominated music/lifestyle PR firm that reflects his 20 prior years as an award-winning rock critic. He represents new artists to legends, promoters, festivals, venues, book publishers and other organizations, including the Grammys, Gamble & Huff and “The Sound of Philadelphia,” School of Rock, Chickenfoot, Creed, and Philly Walk of Fame.
Just because artists have no project to formally promote shouldn’t mean they have nothing to “say.” That’s why they are artists.There’s a constant flow of ideas and concepts percolating inside, and they should have a constant flow of dialogue with their fans to reflect it:Things that are on their mind, what is moving their creative spirits, etc., observances and opinions, what kind of plans they are making toward arriving at the next tour/album, cycle, as well as, to a certain extent, what they’re watching, reading, and eating these days. Write things that build intimacy and make them feel like they are a part of the artists’ lives. You’ve already won them as fans, anyhow. Now they need to feel special. After all, it’s essentially the “informal” relationship with fans – through digital access, social media,etc. – that’s at the root of the new industry paradigm revolutionizing the evolving roles of the record labels. Fans want to feel connected at all times, not just when the next promotional cycle kicks into gear. That’s when the artist is really put to the creative test. The possibilities are endless. Now get to work.. and work it!
Wendy has worked in music for over 17 years. Starting in the early 90s at IRS Records, Wendy has worked for Virgin Records and Yahoo Music amongst others. An independent publicist since 2002, Wendy operates her own business Hello Wendy.
I think artists should think about what they would find interesting to read about from musicians they love. I think they should have fun with it, give their fans some insight into how their creative minds work. Possible topics could include their writing process for new songs or what they like to do in their spare time besides music. They might want to share places they have encountered while on tour and favorite finds – shops, restaurants, etc. The beauty of the internet is its ability to connect fan to artist, something we didn’t have in previous generations. Obviously they don’t need to be too personal, sharing details of doctor’s appointments and relationships gone wrong, but they can find ways to let their fans know interesting anecdotes about them, letting them into their lives in a way.
Heather just celebrated twenty-five years working in the music business and ten years of experience as a publicist. In 2010, she started Western Publicity, representing the Ponderosa Stomp, Riot Fest, The City Champs, Gorevette, Wiley & the Checkmates, The Everyday Visuals, Antennas Up, and the New Orleans Bounce Project.
I believe that the connection between artists and their fans creates longstanding careers. While this kinda connection might lead to awkward confessional moments at the merch table with your more sensitive fans, it is worth it. That said, you have no new album, no tour? You should tell fans about your creative process, how often do you write? Does your band practice regularly or only before touring? What other creative things are you involved in, do you paint, make films? Its also cool to tell the story behind a song, anecdotes from previous tours, recommend other bands you like (pay it forward) and to discuss what inspires you.
Bruce is the Director of the University of Georgia’s Music Business Program. He is a successful songwriter with two #1 songs for Reba McEntire, “Rumor Has It” and “It’s Your Call.” His songs have been recorded by Faith Hill, George Jones, Wayne Newton, and many others. Bruce also worked as Creative Director with EMI Music Publishing.
When an artist is not touring they should definitely keep in touch with their fans. In the new music business fan interaction is crucial. An artist definitely wants to keep some mystery (Bob Dylan/Van Morrison style) but for most artists, particularly those who are trying to build a fan base and keep it, it is essential that they keep a dialog going with their audience even when they are not on the road. Fans don’t want to be bombarded so use good judgment, but keeping contact with the “customer” is important. What to blog/tweet/post on facebook/myspace/reverb nations/etc about? Think about what a fan would want to know (all artists were once fans). What types of songs are being written for the next album? What is he/her listening to during their down time? Are they spending time with family and friends and what are they doing during this time? What movies have they seen that inspired them? For an artist known to be politically or philanthropically active what causes are they involved in? Any jokes, quotes, books, etc can share? The fan/artist connection is more important than ever and as the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”.
Share your point of view and personal experience about this topic. We are always looking to hear from our readers!
If you missed Part I of this series (Should You Treat Loyal Fans Different Than Casual Fans), be sure to check it out.