Just to start out – the most important thing to remember about fans is that no matter what the fans say or do, it is always a compliment. They are your FANS, they love you, so if they say or do something insulting, it wasn’t meant that way!
In this article, I have listed some of the “quirks” or “personalities” the fans tend to have and how to approach each. This article is exaggerated intentionally, quite tongue-in-cheek, although it does end with a realistic lesson to take away from reading the article.
The Stalker (I just had to start with this one!)
There are many ways to handle a stalker – it all depends on which action that person will respond to. Here are some suggestions: (1) Nicely tell them to give you space; (2) ignore them (not recommended, sometimes it just makes them mad); (3) get a bodyguard and have them look out for that person; (4) be rude to the person (also not recommended); (5) get a restraining order – only if you tried everything else and it doesn’t work. Some precautions to take if you have a stalker: hide valuables, never leave unattended items, avoid being alone, lock all the doors and windows to your house and cars, don’t say your phone numbers, address, or email addresses out loud, and be wary of who you give that information to, and last, go anywhere but home if you are being followed – preferably the police station.
The Obsessive Fan
The obsessive fan – everyone has dealt with someone of this character. An obsessive fan is usually the opposite gender as you (not always) and they constantly pursue any means of contact with you. In some cases, it can be a fan that has confused musical admiration for emotional and just needs to be set straight. However, an obsessive fan should not be ignored, but you should not give into their every need. In essence, treat them as you would any one else and they will eventually grow out of their obsession. If they do not – then you respond to them the same way you would a stalker.
The Loyal Fan
The loyal fan is the fan who shows up to all your gigs to support you and is willing to help you out (for you and not for them). It is really easy to take advantage of a loyal fan and not appreciate them. So it is key to appreciate everything they do (and express it to them). You also have to make sure that you don’t always have “favors” for them to do, even if they are willing. It is okay if you have them help out every once in a while, but not all the time.
The I’m Only Hanging Around Cause It Makes Me Look Good But I’m Not Actually a Fan
When you are successful, there are people who are going to want to be around you and/or be your friend solely for your success – it makes them look good. The only advice I have for you about these kind of people are to watch out for them. They can be very manipulative and you have to be careful not to fall into their trap. They pretend to be loyal fans, but really could care less about you and just want to share your success. Avoid these kind of people in every way except common courtesy.
Friends and Family
Never treat friends or family members like a fan. They are not fans, they are people who know you, love you, and support you! Be sure to spend time with them if they come to your gigs and tell them you appreciate them coming (something you should actually do with all of your fans, especially at small venues). But make special time for family (before or after the show).
People Who Look Up to You
If you ever have success, you are guaranteed to have people who want to be like you. They want to know how you got where you are, what gear you use, who you studied with, etc… Know that it is okay to tell them whatever they ask – for they can never be YOU or take your place or success, so there is no reason to be threatened by them or keep from aiding them in having some of the success you have had. For example – just because someone plays the same mouthpiece setup as you does not mean they are going to sound like you. People are different (I can’t emphasize this enough), so no two people will play (or sing) exactly the same. I do not recommend trying to sound the same as anyone else either – just try to be an individual!
Kids kind of fall under the “I want to be you” category because of the degree of admiration they have and because of if a kid thinks you are cool – they do want to be you. However, since kids are attention craved – you make their day when you talk and/or play to them. Whenever there is a kid at one of my gigs, I will always try to interact with them. For example, before the gig or on break, play a song for them, talk to them and find out if they play something or want to; just talk to them; smile and wave at them; catch their eye and look at them while you are playing; etc. It is always important to make sure the kids enjoy the music too – they could be the next generation of musicians.
Now peers (other musicians) aren’t necessarily fans, but do show up at the gig, so you do have to talk to them too (networking!!!). If they are a musician and you don’t know them, they will usually come talk to you, but if they don’t, you can always pick them out of the crowd because on tunes they know, they usually finger or tap along. If they are there, whether you know them or not – talk to them! It’s networking – a new connection. Therefore, someone now knows you exist which could lead to more gigs or opportunities. Do not let more gigs pass you by – as a musician, work comes few and far between (with exceptions). So in conclusion – network!
General Notes: As far as fans go, you don’t NEED to go and talk to everyone at the gig, but you SHOULD if you can. Who knows, you could sell one more CD or earn more loyal fans or create relationships with people that you may later find incredibly valuable and irreplaceable. Regardless, be courteous and don’t trash ANYONE! Smile and be genuine. Know how to end a conversation and move on – “Well, it was very nice to talk to you. I hope you enjoy the rest of your night and I hope to see you again soon.”