I came across an unreferenced quote recently that helped me put my own music into perspective:
What any musician/music producer wants is for their creations to be heard; not necessarily liked, but heard. Those who are curious enough to try it usually fall into two camps: those who know you and support you, and, those who lean towards scanner personalities and are constantly open to new ideas and ways of thinking. The rest are comfortable with what they know and feel no desire to broaden their musical appreciation.
Building up a fan base isn’t easy and I often ask how important is it in the scheme of things? It is a given that I am never likely to be famous for my music; too old, too isolated; not a skilled musician or technician and not mainstream. The best I can wish for is that someone, somewhere feels something when they listen to one of my tracks. Music speaks to us all in a way that only melodies, lyrics, beats and bass can, it reminds us of certain times, evokes feelings of well-being and sadness, comforts us, excites us, it tells our story and helps us to de-stress and, it makes us move…
For a young band, fans are important. My Pierrot Dolls attracted a large local following and gig after gig we would see the same faces, arriving at the venue early, some dressed in the style of MPD whilst others used it as an opportunity to express themselves with make-up, accessories and hair-styles. Die-hard fans were great as they usually brought along other friends who were eager to find out what all the fuss was about. In turn, some would become dedicated fans themselves and so on…
Ivor, the lead singer of our band, was a great publicist and was always scheming up ways of bringing in people to our local gigs. One particular gig was at Clifton Hall in Rotherham. A massive venue for us and if we failed to get many people in the venue they would be rattling around and any atmosphere would be hard to sustain. We put our thinking caps on and Ivor decided to give away a synthesiser to one lucky fan.
Earlier in the year, Barry the bass play, had been suspended from work and caused a mini-walkout in support due to him turning up one day with bright pink hair. It had been widely reported in the local press. Also, My Pierrot Dolls had gained a reputation for constantly changing their look, wearing unusual clothes, make-up and hairstyles so making most of the recent media coverage about Barry’s hair, it was agreed that we would ask a local newly established hairdresser to set up salon in Clifton Hall in the afternoon of the gig and offer any fan a free hair-do in readiness for the show – something out there and cutting edge. In addition, after the gig there would be a disco and a further chance to party.
The gig was publicised with posters, invites, newspaper stories and word of mouth through fans. We were also video taping the gig and fans would have a chance to show-off their newly spiked and frizzed look. Video-taping wasn’t common place.
The evening went really well and we were full or near to full. Many stayed on for the disco and it gave the band the opportunity to wander round and get to know their fans.
Fans today have many more options. The advent of the internet and streaming services means that your virtual music collection can be increasingly eclectic, forever growing and with you constantly. I have a large collection of music of every genre in most formats (apart from my vinyl having stupidly sold it prior to re-locating). I can’t say I am a die-hard fan of anyone artist but there are those whose music I listen too regularly and those who serve a purpose at a given point in time. I listen to new music most days through Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Mixcloud and occasionally I stumble across an artist who inspires me and captures my attention. There isn’t a common denominator, a key change, a rhythm, a lyric, a sequence or a general ambience that somehow resonates. As I grow older, style, fashion and image is of less importance (although I still admire those who push the boundaries). There are artists who I have admired for decades and those who I have only just discovered today. Fans are important but for me, a fan is someone who isn’t closed to have a listen to something new, someone who is prepared to explore music and someone who gives the artist a chance to unfold the story music so eloquently tells.