Buzzfest 32, an annual outdoor alt-rock festival in Houston, brought P.O.D. this past year as part of its lineup. It was the main reason I went to the show, since they are a remarkable act live and the last time I tried to see them the festival cancelled (due to weather). Before they took the stage, the radio station hosting the event did a little Q&A session with band members. Frontman Sonny Sandoval, while answering a question seemingly unrelated, made a statement that profoundly stuck with me.
“Their fans are like family, so naturally we wanted to connect with them and their scene,” Sandoval said. He was referring to the band The Deftones, and his response was to a question regarding why the band (P.O.D.) has been doing more with the Deftones in recent months.
Prior to that statement, other band members made some remarks about the nature of music and music fans that is true and very telling. As a whole, music fans are fickle. Today they like you because they heard a song (or part of one) and it was catchy. But tomorrow, or 2 hours or 20 minutes later they’re on to something else.
This is the nature of all consumers in every market. It’s why businesses are constantly marketing their brand on every platform all the time. However, constant promotion can turn some of the right people off to your band.
When your fans aren’t just people who “like” your music, you have something that’s very powerful. But if even a platinum-recording and major alt-rock act like P.O.D. experiences the negative side of a fickle music fan community, imagine how true that is for smaller indie acts. The need to make strong, dedicated impressions with your fan base is essential to you having the success you want with your music.
If the thought of your fans being so close bothers you, that’s ok. I’m not saying that you need to invite them all over to your house, or that they need to know your personal information. But consider that early in your music career, your family was probably the most supportive group of people backing everything you did. They told their friends and colleagues about your work, went to your shows and bought your music. They supported you in real, tangible methods. This is what you want with your fan base.
What does this look like, to have fans who act like family in their support of your music? Look at artists who have that cult following, who have built die-hard and dedicated followers over time. P.O.D. (aka Payable On Death) is certainly one band who has done that well, as are the Deftones. Bruce Springsteen, though he’s been playing music for several decades and has a zillion hits over the years, still have one of the most dedicated audiences in music history. On a smaller scale, Aimee Mann has a cult following in folk circles.
Further investigation into how this phenomena works will shine a lot of light into pathways for success in your music career. It’s the experience of your artistry that connects true fans to your music. What experience are you giving people to connect with?