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« Musician’s SXSW South by Southwest Survival Guide | Main | My song sucks? You must be an idiot! What’s the right way to review music? »
Saturday
Feb282009

Give 'em something they can feel!

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.

Heron Demarco

Emcee/guitarist/producer of Silent Disorder

http://www.myspace.com/indisorderwetrust

http://indisorderwetrust.blogspot.com/

Reader Comments (10)

I am truly emotional and humbled by this post. Albeit I'm not an artist I am an emotive crazed music fan that believes the future is about treating fans like the hero's they are. I can't stress enough from a postion of non-artist that treating each fan as if they where the king and/or queen of the world will truly change lives. Isn't that whats music is all about? Isn't it about making and playing music that is so emotive that it connects with the deepest parts of one's soul?
Heron, you have unlocked the future of this crazed new music industry. One fan, one soul and one heart at at time.
Do you think that this fan will be with you for life? I have litttle doubt....by taking the time to 'being there' for your fan you have unlocked this person to being with you and 'in you' for as long as you make great music.
That is why I stand convicted that private (personal) concerts can drive fans to being apart of artists for their entire career and to 'lift them up' to continue to make a life of music.
It used to be simple in the way that great music on a 12 LP record could capture what you do as an artist, but times are different and your commitment to 'one fan' at a time will sustain your career by making that 'one fan' into a second fan and with the same attentiveness will make a career.
Truly greatness...

Andy Malloy

February 27 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Malloy

Great message, Heron, at all times, and especially now.

EITHER THEY FEEL IT - OR IT'S FILLER. Period. If artists would just dig deeper within, find what THEY feel, then share that passionately, we could create a much needed music REVOLUTION (and that doesn't mean social/political statements at all, unless that's felt deeply).

I know, I know, that's not you or most musicians...well, then why does SO music sound not-so vaguely alike now - I mean, think back a ways, when top acts within the same genre were vastly different...it's as though true uniqueness isn't RISKED much anymore. Well I could be wrong, but I think taking the time and energy to tap our individality, crafting it into song, then having the COURAGE to present it to the world, is exactly what WILL take the artist where they want to go. Especially if ALSO intelligently utilizing the wealth of DYI tools and low-cost PR now available.

I sincerely hope all the developers of recomendation engines, in their well-intentioned efforts to help us search the mounds of largely indistinguishable music, don't INADVERTENTLY manage to obscure the next truly unique, genre-defining artists. At the very least, it seems there is a real risk that artists may (further) develop a perception (perhaps unconsciously), that they better sound like so-and-so in order to be discovered by the engine and recommended. I pray I'm wrong on this one or we are headed for the bottom, musically.

But I digress - artists, PLEASE write from the HEART, not the bank account - it will likely grow faster that way anyway, and at least you'll know you shared the best of YOU, YOUR TRUTH.

And "One fan, one soul and one heart at a time"...right on, Andy!

February 28 | Unregistered CommenterDg.

This is a wonderful post. And I agree with it a great deal. While I don't expect (nor necessarily want) a personal relationship with the artists I admire, I do need to feel like there is some connection. That they care what their fans feel.

Honestly I had given up on music for several years because I could never feel any sort of connection with the musicians that I listened to. When I found that connection, it was like a whole new world opened up to me. It profoundly impacted my life and I am very grateful for the experience. As a result, I am motivated to invest in those artists with my time, energy and money. I don't have much disposable income, at all, so who I decide to spend it on has everything to do with how connected I feel to the artists.

Great post!

February 28 | Unregistered CommenterCalysta Rose

Heron, I'm too new to all this music stuff to have many fans -- I think I've got maybe 10 -- but you've just reminded me how important every last one of them is. Equally cool, you've got me all refired up. Like so many people, I've hit some hard bumps recently, and just last night I was lamenting the state of my recording efforts (stalled, no more money), my live efforts (nada, brain injury) and my overall health (see previous). Thank you for your inspiration. It means the world.

Jeff
www.cerebellumblues.com

February 28 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Shattuck

"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."

That says it all, Heron. Excellent post.....everybody in my band shares this same vision. We are fed up with the lack of emotion in the music being produced today. We sincerely wish we lived during the times when music had the power to move people, and bring thousands together in a random field in New York State to simply hang out and listen to music. This music does exist today, but it is few and far between. And it shouldn't be.

The attitudes described in your post should be possessed by anybody looking to create music.

Take care,

Chris Bracco
My Band: www.myspace.com/asbpkmusic
My Blog: tightmix.wordpress.com

February 28 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

"maybe file sharing was born out of a strong disdain for paying 20 bucks for an album with only two good songs on them."

i've thought this for years. thanks for verbalizing it for me :)

February 28 | Unregistered Commenterchantilly

Whoever is responsible for posting this blog on the home page please allow me to send you 1000 thank yous. I feel a story such as this connects with the fan in us all. Thank you to all who took the time to share their thoughts and reach out to me.

Peace

March 1 | Unregistered CommenterHeronDemarco

You hit the nail on the head with this post. I think almost every musician started playing because they connected emotionally with an artist they truly admire. It's a shame that most musicians forget that.

March 1 | Unregistered CommenterJacob Magers

Great post - as a fellow ranter and raver, I appreciate your passion!

I hope that with the ever-changing nature of the music biz, making it easier and more cost-effective for musicians to make the music THEY want to make without trying to "sell" themselves through the filter of industry, we'll all make more music that's "state-of-the-heart."

That in itself would be a true music revolution!

March 3 | Unregistered CommenterBing Futch

"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?)"

Dairy farmers hate paying for milk too! Seriously, we delude ourselves when we assign altruistic motives to music fans, as if they posessed any honest stake in whether or not artists are successful in the long run. Let's drop the presumption that music is somehow NOT a commodity that consumers can simply take or leave as they please in favor of the more realistic view that artists ain't really all that special in terms of the production of goods or services. That's truer today than ever before with ever-expanding access to a multitude of automated entertainment options, not the least of which (Guitar Hero) enables fans to literally step into the shoes of their favorite artists. The veil is down for good.

March 4 | Unregistered CommenterPat Offender

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