Shared experiences; they are what life is really about.
I spent the past weekend with two of my band members performing house shows in Portland, Maine; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The purpose of our short tour was to test the waters and see if this whole house show thing is something that people would enjoy, to find out whether performing a stripped-down, stories-behind-the-songs collection of my music would resonate the way my full productions do. (Spoiler alert: it did!)
But it was also to get back to a grassroots way of meeting people, making new friends, and connecting one-on-one with individuals.
The response was more than we could have asked for.
We learned quite a lot on our trip, and one of the things we learned is that people are yearning for a personal connection with their favorite artists.
In a time when the internet affords artists the opportunity to connect one-on-one with the fans of their work, we normally only hear from our favorite artists when they have something they want us to buy. And even then, that’s usually every two or three years when their new album comes out.
Albums. That’s another thing…
The album format has been exploded.
I recorded a podcast while in Portland at Gateway Mastering Studios with renowned mastering engineer Adam Ayan (Shakira, Luis Fonsi, Carrie Underwood, Queen, et al.), and he told me that he is mastering more singles and EPs than ever before, with albums sprinkled in here and there.
So, if you’re making an album, and you’re not being forced to do so because you’re signed to a record label, why are you doing it??
Unless you’re making an album of metal music—which studies show have the hands-down most loyal fanbase, a fanbase which still buys CDs and generally avoids streaming, clinging to the past—you’re swimming against the tide.
But I digress. Back to the matter at hand: connection.
In Portland, two of our Bullfighters (fan club members) are people who travel all over the country to see their favorite artists. They’ve been to countless shows and seen some of the most talented musicians perform in large and small venues. They told us they’d never experienced such an up-close-and-personal performance before, and they loved it.
The sentiment was shared by our new Portland friends, who took us out to dinner before the show. They enjoy treating bands (and their entire crew) to meals when they come through Portland, because they understand the struggle and the sacrifices being made to travel and get after a career in music. They, too, were blown away by the intimacy of the show, and said they had never been a part of something like that.
In Scranton, we visited with my good friend Phil, who is the program director at Alt 92.1 FM. He showed us around the station—which includes a 200-capacity theater with a 1932 Steinway grand piano. He said he is going to begin spinning my music on the radio, and will work with us to help put together an event when we return to the Scranton area.
And in Pittsburgh, as I was walking the streets, talking with locals and handing out flyers before our performance, I received many compliments and kudos on our “guerrilla marketing,” and that “your passion looks good on you; never stop doing what you’re doing.”
The people we connected with on this tour are incredibly supportive of our journey, and were kind enough to treat us to meals and allow us to stay the night in their homes.
We must have made a good impression, because they can’t wait for us to return so they can bring their family and friends and share the experience.
Which brings me to this article on the generosity of fans of music, and art in general:
That’s right, folks. Art is going to save us!
But it’s not going to come from Taylor Swift, or Drake, or Bieber, or Luke Bryan, or Future, or Adele, or Max Martin, or Migos, or Shellback, or Dr. Luke, or Mark Ronson, or any of the other major players in today’s music game.
No, it’s going to come from THE PEOPLE, those fans of talented artists and the work they produce!
Need proof? Here it is, straight from Spotify…
John Stein, an editor focused on indie, alternative, and electronic music for some of Spotify’s biggest mood playlists explained to The Verge that there’s a difference between a live hit and a Spotify hit.
From The Verge article: “[Stein] likes to find out what songs people are singing along to in the real world. ‘That’s something we don’t see in the data,’ he says. ‘They’re not always the catchy ones. They’re surprises. And over time, people come back to those more.’ He says he likes music that has substance, which you ‘can’t fake,’ not just perfectly crafted pop songs with the chorus at the front. ‘You can’t build real fans by following such a formula in that way.’”
Follow me on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Lx9QDuqrvKCyr1jr1Q324
There is no art in a factory; not even in an art factory. — Eric “Mixerman” Sarafin
P.S. The researchers concluded that one implication of their findings for policy-makers is the potential for “substantial social and economic gains” from investing in the arts. They argue that these may be achieved “effectively by policies or investments that make the arts more widely available and ensure that access is not restricted only to the wealthy.” … Arts Council England’s Director of Communication and Public Policy, Mags Patten, said: “This paper makes a significant contribution to growing evidence of a causal link between taking part in the arts, individual wellbeing, and the strength of communities. This valuable piece of research will be important reading for those already studying in this vital area, and it should encourage new studies of the social impact of the arts.”
P.P.S. Become a Bullfighter today, and my band and I will perform in your area within a calendar year of your enrollment, guaranteed, or your money back. 😀
Visit the archive: https://therealjohnkay.wordpress.com
Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates
Copyright © 2017 John Kay, All rights reserved.