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Posts Tagged ‘Being a fan’

Months ago I wrote a blog about How To Support Your Band and I was pretty content after I did.  Maybe even a little smug. I felt pretty darn good about giving some solid tips on how to help out those hard working musicians in their quest to become the next big thing.  Since then I’ve wondered why some super-talented favorites (cough, cough Dreamers, Coast Modern) aren’t picking up traffic at a lightning pace like they deserve.  They’re creating solid music, pounding the pavement on tour, being adorable in fan pictures, and engaging regularly in the Twitterverse.  And while they’re picking up a steady following along the way, I worry the world is still missing out.

Sure, some of it is luck where Oprah picks them as her favorite thing.  Lightening in a bottle if they’re featured on a crazy video that goes viral.  Or maybe they scored a deal with the Devil? Obviously Twenty-One Pilots must have sold their souls to go from people saying “Twenty what?” to sold out stadiums seemingly overnight.  Since there really isn’t a way to quantify selling your soul, I’ve tried to look a little harder at what works towards a band’s success.  After considering the band’s efforts, I turned the microscope onto my brethren — Fans.  And when I did, I have to say I saw some apathy and selfishness.

Don’t get me wrong out there, Fans.  I love you.  I love you like no other kind of love in this world.  You have a passion so deep the darkest oceans can’t compare to your band commitment.  However, what do you do with this love?  Do you picket the streets with their new album release?  Cold call strangers to try out their latest single?  Stand outside the local mall and hawk digital downloads?  Nope, I didn’t think so.

That’s the thing.  As fans, we bask in our own love.  You may tell friends in passing they should give your new band a shot.  You might even put a sticker on your car and get a question or two at the gas station that you happily answer with over-information.  But we rarely step outside our comfort zone to really support the bands we adore.  Maybe we’re scared. What if they get so big they won’t love us back? Oh, dear fan, that’s a risk we all take.  And honestly, it will happen.  But our selfishness shouldn’t stop us from helping our favorite musician taste success.  (Hint, this is how more music gets made.)  Or maybe it’s because we feel too small to really make a difference.  We don’t have the same platform when we only have 72 Twitter followers.  (Hey if you’re on Twitter, congratulate yourself.  Bestie still can’t figure it out.)

You’d be surprised the difference you can make when you really put some work into it.  Don’t know where to start?  Here are some tips on how to help be a great fan to your band:

Tweet, Facebook, Instragram, YouTube, or Snapchat the shit out of their releases.

It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use, you’re reaching a wider audience.  Be creative.  Make up your own fan art to highlight.  Or if you lack creativity, share what the band’s putting out.  You may have an old acquaintance from high school who is constantly looking for their next favorite band.  They see your messages and give it a go.  Soon they’re telling their friends about it.  Do you see how amazingly influential you are already?

Get everyone you know, in every city, to see their show no matter what you have to do.

Okay, so some of your friends and family can be duds.  You hear their million excuses to why they don’t go out and know it doesn’t do any good to suggest they try something new.  Why not entice them to get out there?  I’ve been known to use a cookie delivery (with a treat for the carrier too) to get some people to shows in their area.  For support, they brought some friends of their own.  Four new bodies primed to be lifelong fans.  Not one yet has come back cursing my name.  In fact, most planned to check out the band again without prompting.

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How could you ever pass up the chance to see Nick Wold from Dreamers?

Buy all the merchandise you can stuff in your arms.

Who says you have to only buy a single shirt for yourself?  Your friends don’t have to attend the concert to be a walking billboard for the band.  Sometimes, a new item in their wardrobe encourages them to give the music a go.  They listen so when asked by a stranger about their cool shirt, they have a stronger answer than “Oh, I don’t know, I got the shirt from a friend.”

Remember folks, ticket and merchandise sales are some of the biggest money makers for the artists in this age.  The more coin you drop at their merch booth means more tunes your ears will enjoy in the future.

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BONUS:  Sometimes at the merch booth you get to see your faves like Luke Atlas from Coast Modern.

Tell every single radio station in the country how you love them.

Okay, so you’re broke and don’t want to sling any money when you can’t even afford to buy a large pizza for yourself. I get it.  Then let your fingers do the work by contacting your favorite radio stations to work them into the rotation.  With on-line streaming you can listen to any station in any state in this country.  Listener feedback is becoming a staple in creating station playlists.  The more you request, the better chance the station will pick them up.

Caveat: Don’t be a dick.  Don’t spam the station or tell them they’re stupid if they don’t love your band as much as you.  This will actually do your band a disservice and probably get you blocked.

Encourage friends to follow them on social media.

Yep, numbers matter.  The more followers on social media, the more seriously someone is taken.  People assume if fifty thousand other people like a band, they must be good.  If nothing else, media outlets will give them more credibility.  Encourage everyone you meet to like your band on the social platform of their choice.

If they’re the concert opener, talk to everyone in the place about them before they hit the stage.

I know this one takes some extrovert courage, but it pays off.  Most concert attendees don’t give too much attention to the opener even though every great band started there at one time. Instead, attendees check their phone, talk with friends, or get more drinks from the bar while they wait for the main attraction.  You get out there and pique their interest by telling everyone you came for the opener!  If you do, they may give your new favorite band a chance.  And that’s all you want.  Then your band needs to deliver, which you know they will because you love them.

coast modern fans

Look at all the lovely friends I made at the Coast Modern show. (Ignore the weird photography.)

I can hear some of you now, “But that’s a lot of work.”  Yes, it is.  But we’re talking about a band you love, right?  I ached for years as I watched how my favorites, The Airborne Toxic Event and The Limousines, worked relentlessly and baked a cookie or two.  But that was it.  And a band can only take working hard with minimal reward for so long.  Then they have to make decisions about whether the investment is worth the return.  Trust me when I say you don’t want your band to weigh out the pros and cons.

And before someone out there gets righteous — yes, I do these things.  If you doubt it, ask anyone I work with, see at a bar, or stand next to at a Dreamers or Coast Modern show.  I can tell you first hand there’s been a few new fans picked up here and there.  There are days where I think I’m not making much of a difference and other days I want to wallow in selfishness to keep them small.  Those are the days I crank up their songs, remember how they’re good people, and get off my ass to find them more fans.

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Last week I packed up my car and headed for the border.  I wasn’t running away to Mexican beaches and margaritas as one may expect during this rainy season.  Instead, I headed north.  Many people asked why I would take time off from work, leave my family, and drive solo to cold Canada at the beginning of February.  The answer is simple:  Dreamers.

Actually, it wasn’t that simple.  I bought the tickets three months ago while still coming down from my Dreamers’ Portland concert high in October.  One night in early November while I enjoyed Lemon-Drop-Saturday, Dreamers posted on Facebook they were going to open up for the Arkells in Canada.  I died.  It was kismit.  Only the year before, my Internet Stranger Best Friend of five years who lives in Canada, Tragic Spinster, recommended the Arkells for my radio show.  I messaged her immediately: “Your band and my band are getting together to make music babies.  We should meet for the first time.”  She said it might work.  So, I bought it, exactly ten minutes and three “do you think I shoulds?” to Hubs later.  The whole non-refundable trip.  Even before checking if I could get the time off of work.

I convinced myself Dreamers would announce more dates and drop into the US.  This would be the perfect time to fulfill my book research dream to follow a band on the road for a couple weeks to document the grind.  My original plan was to follow The Airborne Toxic Event along the east coast, but with their current hiatus and Hubs’ 2016 budget lecture, my plans needed alteration.  Instead, Dreamers along the west coast sounded like a better option.  Especially because the seven years of TATE love might be hard to separate myself from to allow for objective concert watching.  I begged for the time off, made a goal to complete 60K words on the manuscript draft before January 31, 2016, and prepped for my two week adventure.

Three big flaws in my plan — 1) Real life happened to Trag and she was out.  2) Dreamers didn’t add more dates immediately following Canada.  They picked up touring mid-February in Texas.  (Too far for me to drive.)  The two nights I already committed were going to be it.  3) Over the next three months, my Dreamers-love only grew stronger with new music dropping, my introduction into their Snap Chat world, and their unbelievable charm on social media by responding to my tom-foolery without blocking me.  My trip started to become more about seeing the band than research.  And that’s when things got complicated for me.

I’ll let you in on a secret in the fan world.  One that most refuse to talk about.  (I’ve re-written this blog a million times because even I struggle being this transparent about my feelings.  Don’t say I never give for you.)  It can be a weird place once you’ve had a “special snowflake” moment with a band.  You know, those feelz where your clear fan lines blurred when they made you feel more like a person than a commodity.  Through my Airborne travels, I’ve chatted with Mikel several times.  He’s nice enough.  I like him.  And I walked away knowing he never remembered one moment of it (unless you count cringing – have you ever read my Mikel experiences here, here, or here.)  When other TATE fans spoke about how they thought they were more than fans, my cynical response usually included it’s part of his job to be nice.  I chalked it up no one wanting to admit the lopsidedness in the fan/band relationship.  No one likes the rejection or feeling like they’re “just a fan.” (Written by These Stunning Ruins.)

As the Canada date drew closer, my anxiety increased.  Why did I worry about if Dreamers cared if I was there or not?  Who cares if they couldn’t pick me out of a line up?  Where the fuck was my cynicism when I needed it?  I’m an adult, for crissakes.  So, I kept my Canadian pilgrimage on the down low.  I told myself this was supposed to be about my writing work; more observing a concert versus attending one.  How could I be noting details if I spent all my time worrying if Dreamers would remember me enough to say hi?  I reminded myself they have a job to do by meeting new Vancouver people to grow a fan base.  No time for the Oregonian they already have in their back pocket.  All reasonable thoughts, but were these the real reason why I didn’t mention my tickets?  If I really wanted to be painfully honest with myself (and oh God, this is painful), didn’t it come down to the fact I was scared?

“Scared of what?” a non-fan might ask?  The last time I saw Dreamers live, the whole night was something crazy magical fun for me; a drug I crave to get me “higher and higher and higher.” (Shameless plug for their new song Drugs on the recently released EP “You Are Here.”) If I spent the months posting about traveling the 600 miles each way, I feared I would become an obligation.  Like they would have to pity me with nice because I tweet them to death and inundate them with baked goods.  Ugh, the last thing I would ever want.  Hiding seemed like a much better idea to avoid awkward or disappointment.

My plan was solid — drop off cookies (of course, there’s cookies, do you even know me by now?), get lost in the sold out crowd, send no Snaps, and post awesome pictures on Twitter later when driving away.  I asked a security guy to deliver the cookies.  “I don’t know if I can.  That’s not my job,” he said before disappearing behind the venue’s doors without the cookies.  Panic raced through me as I imagined having Dreamers come out to see who was trying to poison them with bakery treats.  This would send my concert Tourettes into hyper-drive where I’d spew disjointed thoughts to over-explain why I was trying to give them confections minus the hype.  Luckily, Security Guy came back, said it was all good, and took the package.

Even better was thirty minutes later when I saw tweets from Dreamers loving the cookies and wondering how they got there.  My heart swelled with their appreciation.  It’s one of the things I find so endearing about them.  They got the something special and I was home free to live in anonymity.  Seriously…look at these cute tweets?

nelson boob

As usual when I concert alone, I buddied up with other fans in the venue.  During our breaks in conversation, I scribbled notes about the venue’s atmosphere, how the bodies lined up against the weak gate barrier, and the pre-show buzz humming in the air.  I asked my Canadian Couple friends to save my seat as I ventured to the merchandise table to grab my concert t-shirt before the show started.  I tried to buy it on my way in, but the Arkells’ merch guy said he didn’t sell Dreamers’ stuff and I’d have to wait for their guy to come back.  When I returned, Sober (real name Plotkin) manned it just like he did in Portland.  He’d already walked past me once that night so I wasn’t worried about him recognizing me.

I wasn’t even to the table’s edge when he said, “You brought the cookies.” (Or something like that — drinking disclaimer.)  I was stunned in his recognition.  Sober told the other guy about the cookies I included for him.  He even appreciated the font choice. <Swoon>  He continued on about the set I sent previously based on crossword puzzles.  His genuine excitement in the cookie description is really where I could’ve kissed him.  It’s the whole reason why I love making cookies for people.  I tried to play it cool as I bought the shirt, where inside I geeked out.  I headed back to my table trying to convince myself nothing had changed from five minutes before.

But in that simple interaction, things had changed.  The vodka drip I’d been on all night didn’t hurt either.  I considered we’re both important parts to the fan/band equation regardless if it matters more to me than them.  It didn’t mean my presence wasn’t welcomed.  They appreciated the cookies.  Maybe it even made a “special snowflake” moment for them.  Hell, I only make them for a select few.

With my presence known, I watched Dreamers play from front row, sent Snaps like a fiend, and tweeted drink offers to them.  I did these things because it’s totally who I am.  To the core.   I stopped worrying about what I couldn’t control.  Instead I focused on what I love about concerts — the band’s energy, the music’s power, and the other fans’ excitement.  Canadian couple and I talked about how long they had been Arkell fans and I explained my reason for traveling so far for Dreamers — because they are nice.  They bought me vodka sodas and I bought them beers.  It was clearer than ever I only hurt myself by being scared.  If rejection stopped me from taking chances I would’ve missed out on meeting Canadian Couple when I asked to share a table.  I tell people on a daily basis that fear leads to bad decisions.  And there I was ready to make the worst one.

Sober fucked up my perfect plan in the most amazing way.  Dreamers did find me and made me feel appreciated for being there.  I snapped Nelson as he Snapchatted, watched Nick dance and talk with fans, and I wrote more notes for my manuscript.  There weren’t in depth conversations because the concert blared too loud.  Nor karaoke all night the way Portland had graced.  In fact, both nights ended abruptly when security kicked me out shortly after the show ended.  (I say shortly being a terrible judge of time when drinking.  Security guard on night #2 was quite mean about it, too.)  But what didn’t happen isn’t what defined my trip when I think back about the experience.

What did happen was Dreamers proved to me once again why I adore them so much.   They were gracious with their time (with me and other fans), continued to be pretty entertaining off stage, and rocked great shows both nights.  I would’ve kicked myself if I missed out on that opportunity.  The chance to interact with them as people.  Because that’s something special you don’t get with most bands.  It reminded me, even if you are “just a fan” in the Dreamers’ world, it’s a pretty damn cool place to be.

 

 

 

 

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