On February 25, I was contacted by a woman, via instant messenger, who is a fan of my band’s music. I’m often contacted by fans. Yet there are times when I am able to “shoot the shit” with them, and there are times when I’m a bit occupied. Nonetheless I always try to give a few moments of my time to anyone who takes the time to absorb our music.
Although I’ve enjoyed speaking to each and every one of our supporters, speaking with her was one of the most inspiring and eye opening moments of my life.
She’s been unemployed since Jan, and her living conditions aren’t the best. Although she has a college degree, and appeared very articulate, she has been unable to find any work. Needless to say she wasn’t in the best of spirits.
All she really wanted to do was talk about today’s music. (In her opinion) It wasn’t very rousing, and she longed for the days when music (particularly hip hop) moved her spiritually. She proceed to tell me how our music was different and how much she connected with it.
I could feel her pain, confusion, and feelings of hopelessness travel through my laptop and seep into my conscious. I listened and allowed her to vent her frustrations about her life and the economic rollercoaster that is our world.
She didn’t need a philosopher, or some artist trying to shove a cd down her throat, she just needed someone to talk to. To connect with someone whom she felt understood her misfortune( and trust me I do).
Our conversation was a profound reminder of why I decided to devote my life to the arts. It was never for fame, immense wealth, or any of the like (but let’s be honest a ride or two in a lambo ain’t a crime..lol). I chose my path for the sole purpose of wanting to be a voice for people who felt alone, isolated, scared, frustrated, saddened, powerless, and confused. Since childhood I’ve often tried to make a difference in the lives of others.
If a line from one of my verses helps a man/woman find the fire in himself/herself to go out there and do whatever it takes to make his dreams a reality then so be it. If a few strums from my guitar relaxes the pulse of many and stirs the souls of thousands then that’s even better.
There’s a lot of pain in the world these days. Jobs are dwindling at a rapid rate unseen since the 1930’s. The Stock market is in tatters, people are committing suicide because they can’t afford to put food on the table, and hopelessness is spreading like a cancer. My priority right now is doing all I can to brighten the lives of others just as they have helped to give my life purpose. I’m no Superman, and honestly I ain’t trying to be. I’m just trying to do my part to help other people do theirs.
I’m sharing this with you my fellow independent musicians, for even in the midst of a crippling music industry, as we scrabble to find remnants of hope in the ashes of lost jobs and plummeting sales, we must never forget the most important person in our equation: The Fans.
Following the latest online trend, purchasing myspace plays, posting hundreds of tweets a day, or adding blindly on facebook, although useful (to some degree I suppose), will not substitute the connection that must be felt between you and your listener. It’s easy to forget that, but please don’t.
My passion, and my intensity have often been misconstrued by some as angry rants and misguided behavior, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Anger when it is focused and combined with enthusiasm brings about change. Make no mistake, many a great movement was started due to a few people being pissed off about their social conditions. They were so ticked off they decided to stand up for change, and were “crazy” enough to believe they could achieve it.
Ironically, maybe file sharing was born out of a strong disdain for paying 20 bucks for an album with only two good songs on them. (See what that need for change has lead to don’t ya?)
The fans didn’t give a damn because they believed the industry didn’t give a damn. People banded together to elect our President because in their hearts they believe he genuinely cares about people( I refuse to get into a political discussion. This is just an example).
Hopefully you put a fan’s emotional connection to your music at the top of your list of priorities. No how-to book, blog, or PR service will boost your message if it doesn’t resonate with your audience.
Emcee/guitarist/producer of Silent Disorder