Tony Lee, a graphic novelist of some renown (who, I’ll admit, I’d never heard of till this evening), echoes something I’ve often said musicians should consider.
From his blog:
So I was having a conversation in a bar in San Diego with what I would call an A-list writer, and we were discussing conventions. He turned to me and said‘don’t you hate it when fans come up to you at a convention when you’re off duty and hassle you?’
I said no, I didn’t hate that. And I went on to say how if I was at a convention, I’d expect them to do that. The A lister looked at me like I was insane. And over the last week I’ve spoken to a couple of other creators, asking their opinions on this, and it seems that I’m in a minority of convention guests, in that I activelyencourage fans to come sit with me, drink with me, chat to me.
It seems alien to me not to do so.
Unless it’s entirely impossible to do so – which, in a world of last trains and buses and early rises for work, happens – I’ve always made a big effort to make sure I can stick around and talk to people from the audience after a show. Like Tony and his convention uniform, I go to my shows wearing a suit, mostly cause I think it makes me look like a dapper gentleman and all that, and because it instantly marks me out as being that guy who was up on stage before (as if the rubbish haircut and guitar didn’t make this obvious beforehand).
But I’ve worked with tons of musicians who come off stage, get their gear together and bugger off after every show, never staying to socialise or meet their fans or even to chill out with their bandmates. That’s just ridiculous. Sometimes they just end up buggering off to some other pub for the evening, which is extra ridiculous. I mean, I know people have lives and jobs and families to get home to, I get that, but at least occasionally make an effort to engage with your audience, yeah?
Having said that, I’ve also seen a ton of artists and musicians go the extra mile when it comes to interacting with their fans. Frank Turner, from day one, always made sure to stick around after his shows to meet his fans, even crashing on their couches in the early years. I’m also reminded of the first time I saw the BMX Bandits at the Captains Rest in Glasgow, where members of the band handed out home made baked goods to the audience between acts.
I’m not saying you need to make big huge gestures guys, far from it, but people respect you when you make an effort.
So try it some time.