Where Did All Of My Fans Go?

© 2010 Vinny Ribas

These days the music market is more fickle and ever changing than ever. Your fans have an uncountable number of choices regarding the music they want to listen to and ultimately buy. And they themselves are changing. They grow up, take on different roles in life, find new interests etc. As an independent artist, your have three choices. You can do everything in your power to hang on tightly to the fans you have, do nothing and hope to find an entirely new fan base every few years, or do a little bit of both, keeping some fans while picking up a few new ones along the way. All three can have their merits. However, if you pick the ‘do nothing’ or ‘do a little bit’ approaches, you run the risk of one day waking up and having to ask yourself, “Where did all of my fans go?” [private_freebie]

Why does an artist lose seemingly loyal fans? Here are some of the more prevalent reasons, along with ways to either deal with them or prevent them from happening. 

  • You’ve stopped communicating with them. Your fans crave attention just as much as you do! If they don’t get it from you, they will find it elsewhere. You might also not be communcating at their level any more. Stay in touch!
  • You and your music didn’t evolve as your fans did. Your job is to maintain your brand while sounding current at the same time. It tales skill, but it can be done.
  • You failed to deliver what your fans expected from you. This might be because you didn’t really read or gauge them correctly. Knowing your fans and what they like about you is crucial so you can keep delivering that. It might also result from changing in some way more than your fans were ready to accept. Always make crucial changes slowly and deliberately, and give your fans fair warning of what’s around the corner.
  • You did something to adversely affect your reputation. This might be something that happened onstage or behind the scenes. It might be something in your personal life that has nothing to do directly with your career. Keep in mind that your fans are watching you at all times.
  • You never connected on a personal level. Fans like to feel like hey know you – like you are their friend. If you don’t let them into your life just a little via a newsletter, social network etc., they will go find someone else who really wants to be their friend.
  • Your music never really connected on an emotional level, making you easily forgettable. This happens often when you play a lot of cover tunes, or if you just go through the motions. You may be an amazing band, but your fans never really get to know the real you. No matter what kind of music you play, and especially when you record, be sure to make room for your true personality to come through.
  • You haven’t improved over the years. This usually results from complacency. You should always challenge yourself to be better than you’ve ever been, both live and on your recordings. You’ll be more satisfied, and your fans will want to keep coming back to see what kind of changes or improvements you’ve made.
  • You have been replaced by your competition. Again, this may be a matter of getting too complacent. There will always be a new kid on the block who is trying to buck you. Never rest on your laurels. Fight for your fans with every fiber of your being.
  • You fans grew up and their lives changed, but you and your music didn’t keep pace. People get new jobs, get married, have children etc. The things that were important to your fans even a year ago might not me quite as important today. By the same token, things that were trivial or not even thought about back then might be foremost on their minds right now. If you want to keep your fans over a long period of time, you need to know what is relevant in their lives right now.
  • You’re still playing the same old music. That works if you have enough hits to fill an evening. Otherwise, very few people will want to hear the same thing over and over again. Keep your sets fresh.
  • Something changes in their lives. For example, if your fans are college students, when they graduate they move on to a new life and often relocate to wherever they can find a job. The geographic area you perform in might be facing tough economic challenges. That could result in less people at gigs and less music sales. Be aware of things that affect your fans and find ways to accommodate them, bend with them, or if possible, take advantage of them.
  • You’re trying to hard. Sometimes when we feel like things are slipping away from us, we keep making adjustments hoping to reverse the flow. That often means trying to be something that we’re not. You may need to slow down and analyze the situation very closely. Sometimes you can make adjustments naturally. Other times you may find that it would suit you better to find a new audience.
  • They simply found someone or something new to focus their attention on. Sometimes, someone else might come along and, for some reason, simply mesmerize and captures the attention of your fans. And sometimes other things just become more of a priority in their lives and take the place of going out to see music (e.g. a local sports team starts doing great so everyone goes to the games instead.). In these situations there is often not much you can do about it, except to keep fighting the good fight. If you’ve built relationships with your fans, they will be yours for life. They will always remember you and the ‘good ties you had’. However, they just might not show it by coming to your gigs or buying your music as much any more. It happens to major superstars, so there’s a good chance it will happen to you. Your choices are to hold on dearly to and cater exclusively to those die-hard fans who are still following you, or to work hard build a brand new audience. 

The bottom line is that if you treat your fans right, and work hard to keep them, they will be yours for a lifetime. If you lose touch or lose relevance to them, they will move on to the next one.

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.