Radical Change & Steadfast Fans

Radical Change & Steadfast Fans

Hello Friends,

After any great battle or natural disaster, there's a moment of reckoning. Grief can be overwhelming as we think about what we've lost and what won't be getting back - and we must allow ourselves to acknowledge that... And then comes the moment where we count our blessings... and those two things can shift a person's mindset and even entire generations'.

"Paradigm shift" was a popular business buzzword in the 1990s to describe a radical change in our beliefs, and we held to be "truth". It was dropped by every consultant to bring in new management theories and practices. And quite frankly, it became a buzzword that was quite hated and mocked in a relatively short time. I always liked it though, for what it meant - being able to question assumptions and look at a familiar world in a radically new light. It meant, for me, to set fear of change aside to embrace new views informed by new information or research or discoveries.

That word was coined in the late 60s by Thomas Kuhn, an American scientist and philosopher to describe the way a community of scientists, in the face of a new discovery and new evidence, would have to change everything in the way they approached their research and assessment of the "truth" related to it. It's hard to admit "we were wrong all along". But it's exciting to admit too, "What else don't we know? What else might we learn today?!"

After 9/11, there was a significant change in the way younger generations approached the world. I was working with a marketing agency who had prepared an extensive survey on values about what the key motivations were for young business graduates. Half of the surveyed folk were sent a survey before Sept 11. And then the second half of the target group was surveyed a couple of weeks afterwards. The difference in response were remarkable. Values of the first touched on careers, making money, success while the second group attached value to family, meaning, responsibility, care.

In hindsight, it seems obvious. But at the time, we were still in the aftermath of the unthinkable. I was in Paris and news was coming in from different sources. I was still quite young and it really hit me to realize how sudden change could be. I'd already been quite engrossed with trend-spotting, through reading MegaTrends by John Naisbitt in the 1980s and then Megatrends 2000, 20 years later. I loosely followed Faith Popcorn and her reports. The thing is that trends creep in on us whereas radical change is sudden. And again, while it can be terrifying, it is exhilarating to think that things do NOT have to stay the way they have always been!

When we reconvene with those in our circles - friends and fans, we will need to be reacquainted. We will not be the same folk we were a year ago. For just about all of us, our world views have been stretched, challenged and skewed. We've witnessed millions rising up against racism, sexism and discrimination to demand social justice. And in our music industry, we're also witnessing a power shift from traditional industry to artist-empowerment, as every aspect of the business is being scrutinized... (Why ARE only 1% of the artists collecting 80% of the revenue?!! Why not consider a minimum wage for artists?!...)

There's an opportunity here for us, in this moment of reckoning, to look to our relationship with our fans. THEY are the ones who care about what we care about. THEY are the ones who connect with our purpose and see our light. THEY are also the ones who, in many cases, have the means to support us. They are different from who they were a year ago, but we've been part of each others' journey. In this moment of reckoning, it can feel right to acknowledge it and honour it as we all prepare for the next phase.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you know who your most engaged and committed fans are?
  • What do you know about them, their lives, their experience this past year?
  • Do you know why they appreciate your music and art?
  • How do they show you their support? Is it easy for them to show support?
  • How do you keep track of them?
  • How do you communicate with them?

Some easy actions for the next few weeks might include:

  • Update your mailing list. And if you don't have one, maybe start one? A service like mailchimp can make it easy to keep track of your key people and easy to stay in touch with them. Unlike facebook and other platforms, this mailing list is your own.
  • Even if you don't feel ready for a Patreon account, think about how you can create a sense of community with the people who care about what you care about. Instead of only sharing selfies of yourself (as so many artists do!),maybe post ideas and resources that speak to your shared interests!?
  • Look through the names of those who engage most on social media, who contribute to your fundraisers or live-stream shows, who buy your merch, etc. And if any of those names stand out, send them a note - a simple note that explains that you've noticed them, that you thank them for your support and what it means to you for continuing in the future.
  • As you start to prepare live shows and touring, look to your fans for help when you get to their town. "I hope you'll be coming to my show - can't wait to see you in person - can you help me get the word out" could go a long way. It might take people a while to return to live music shows, so having a friend invite them is a great way to draw them. And for your fan, their special status as "the one in the know, the friend of the artist" is recognition that costs you nothing and means the world to someone, who like you, has been missing people.

Perhaps you'll find that the greatest gift in reaching out to your fans is realizing how much they mean to you! People who might once have been simply friendly faces in a crowd are now people you share a bond with. We can't hug, but I'm finding that the "I love yous" are more frequent. And that is, in my view, a radical change that I can embrace.

As an artist manager, I'm getting to know who my artists' fans are. There are some people who have come to every single one of Carsie's rent parties and have contributed to her musicians' rent fund. That blows my mind! And so when I start to feel a little on edge as we the bookings are flowing in, I focus on the wonderful folk she will be reconnecting with in every town they'll be playing!

As hard as this past year has been, I am feeling hopeful about some of the positive change this year has brought us. We have a long way to go to reach our aspirations for a just and kind society, but I have to believe we're looking in the right direction...


xo Nat


Nathalie Kleinschmit

Article by Nathalie Kleinschmit

Published 23 Mar 2021