*As featured on Hypebot*
Yesterday on Hypebot, Bruce raised the question, “What fans should artists listen and pay attention to?” My answer is: all of them, but there's a big difference between listening and truly caring. Be approachable, start doing something, and answer those emails. If you are leading a tribe of followers, you have to pay attention to all of them, but the key is to empower the curious.
There are many types of followers, but it's the curious fans that count. Not because there are a lot of them, but because they are the ones who talk to the fans that are stuck. They're stuck on your last album, stuck on what everyone else is listing to, and stuck somewhere in the mid-1990's. Whereas the curious fans are trying to find out when the album is going to be out and when your going on tour next. The curious fans are the mavens who are driven by the desire to discover and champion new music.
The Evolution of Tribal Curiosity
Anthropologist Elman Service defined four classifications of the stages of social evolution: hunter-gatherer, tribe, chiefdom, and state. It is my belief that these four categories also provide insight into The Evolution of Tribal Curiosity in music fans and the power of influence they acquire over time.
1. Hunter-gatherer: Fans who are generally egalitarian or characterized by their belief in the equality of all bands. They relentlessly search for music in all territories and don't discriminate against anything. Up to almost 80% of their music is obtained by gathering, but they have very little social influence.
2. Tribe: Communities of fans in which there are some limited instances of social rank and prestige. For instance, some of the members become more established opinion leaders, and emphasis is placed on who was first to discover a new artist. They gave a broader reach then the hunter-gather.
3. Chiefdom: Stratified tribal societies with...
established opinion leaders or chiefs. Think about music blogs (pitchfork, stereogum & brooklynvegan), where new artists are brought forward by a single source, and echoed down through different ranks and layers. Embraced by certain tribes, but not by all. Their reach differentiates, but wider spread.
4. State: Civilizations, with complex social hierarchies and organized, institutional governments. Examples: MySpace, Billboard Charts, Rolling Stone, and Top Radio. High rates of discrimination of what makes “good music.” They are influencing and reaching the masses far and wide.
In a world where people now have way more choices and far less time, the obvious thing happens, people start ignoring you. But, no artist should ignore any fans, because they are more connected than ever. You have to be constantly empowering curiosity and amplifying faith of your followers, because that is the only way you will rise above the the ranks and gain their acceptance.