Every time an artist steps on stage, they want to perform for a crowd that is absolutely out of their minds excited to see them. To see the audience singing passionately along with them, posting all over social media, and proactively sharing their music with others is a dream come true.
Creating a win at your live shows and procuring a loyal following is more than just about great marketing and hype... That stuff gets people through the door but the bigger question is how do you keep them along for the long haul, fully engaged with everything you are as an artist.
In this four part blog series, I cover four elements that are necessary to winning the heart of your audience and making fans for life.
Simply put, you will never be the best version of anything except yourself. If for some reason you don't know who that is or perhaps are less than thrilled with who that is, then you should get off the stage immediately. You can't expect any audience to fully embrace and love you as an artist if you yourself don't. Being an authentic artist starts with understanding and embracing your identity and purpose, which then is infused into every facet of your product. In other words, who you are defines your art... Not the other way around.
Before we go any further let's take a look at the definition of authenticity.
Authentic: Of undisputed origin; genuine; not false or copied"
It is a powerful word and is used quite often in the marketing world. Coca Cola's slogan for a long time was "The Real Thing". People resonate with the concept of authenticity. It comes with a lot of responsibility if you are going to claim it for yourself but in the end a big payoff as well.
I have stood on a plethora of stages of all types... Quaint coffee shops, greasy dive bars, and sold out amphitheaters. There was always a different audience for each but the one common factor at every gig was me. With each and every performance, I had to decide the "me" that I was going to present to the audience.
No matter what, an audience of any type wants the real you. They don't want an imitation, they don't want a gimmick, and most of all they don't want perfection. You will gain loyal fans when you bring your "real" self to the stage, the good, the bad, and the ugly... and as I said before you can only do that if you are brave enough to know and love who that is. You can't give to an audience what you don't possess. Fans adore artists who are honest with them.
The key is to be mature and wise enough to calculate which parts and how much of the good, bad, and ugly you present to your audience. Think of it like a recipe. Audiences thrive on a killer flawless performance but they also want to feel they can relate to you as a human. A missed chord or forgotten lyric handled confidently and humbly will win over a part of your audience that perfection never will. Sharing a vulnerable moment with them can mean much more than being the untouchable superstar. Balancing these too sides of your performance is the key to being authentic and will win over your audience.
One last thing that is important to address is the difference between being unique and being authentic. A big misconception is that these are one and the same.
The truth is that an artist can be unique without being authentic. You can easily surround yourself with attention getting sideshow antics, a look, or trendy sounds that set you apart and will attract an audience, but ultimately aren't part of who you are. After a while it gets exhausting and people will see right through the show.
Being authentic presents its own brand of uniqueness. It might even be that you sound like other established artists. That's ok. Again it's more about your unique identity and how you release that sound than it is about the uniqueness of product itself. It is subtle but powerful concept that can take a while to fully grasp.
If you can truly understand and embrace everything that makes you... well, you, than and only then can you present an authentic version of yourself to your audience. Your skill, emotion, and personality will shine in such a pure way that people will keep coming back for more.
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