One of the biggest challenges and greatest rewards for a singer, speaker, actor, actress, broadcast journalist, comedian, singer-songwriter, or singing musician comes with building a loyal fan base.
A fan base grows through a number of factors that includes word of mouth, social networking, booking engagements, media exposure, and supportive management.
It grows because you fill a need by capturing the imagination or appealing to strong emotions. It grows because something shared through your voice resonates in the heart, mind, or spirit of your audience.
Listen To Your Fans
If you’re focused, gifted, passionate, and committed to delivering at your highest level, a following is likely to develop. As your fan base begins to be established, it’s important to be aware of what they respond to and to literally listen to what they have to say.
For one thing, your fan base will tell you a lot about how you’re perceived. They’ll also be open about what works and what doesn’t. They’ll even tell you what they’d like to hear more of. And, if you ask questions they’ll share what it is about your voice or the messages delivered or the moving stories you tell.
But, remember that singing and speaking only work when communication is delivered with clarity, purpose, and passion.
Food for Feedback
The feedback you receive from your audience and growing fan base will help you to build on what’s working. You might even find fresh ideas to explore through the stories your fans share with you. You can also make any necessary adjustments in image, material, or presentation based on spikes in consensus opinion.
Any shifts in attendance or sales will certainly serve as markers or indicators of what’s working, but the real valuable information comes with the personal feedback you get from your audience.
Soak It Up
Whether you are engaged in a lesson with a coach, just finished a speaking engagement at a convention, released a single or project, or just finished a successful tour de force with your one-woman off-Broadway cabaret act, look for opportunities to solicit opinions on what your audience takes home from your work.
Make note of fans whose opinions resonate with you and trigger new ideas and concepts for engagements. It’s important to develop healthy relationships with those that give you constructive, inspired ideas that help you grow as a singer, singer-songwriter, motivational speaker, broadcast journalist – however your voice-driven career path is defined.
Encourage feedback from mentors, teachers, coaches, and colleagues. Listen to advice and constructive criticism from industry professionals.
Spinning Wheels of Appeals
Note any recurring comments or critical observations in the feedback you receive. Look for common factors, concerns, causes, interests, and backgrounds in the people that most strongly respond to what you present. And note any personal appeal to a specific group, groups, or background. You want to get a read on potential groups to target with your material.
Also, think about the people that you specifically are hoping to reach, and then gauge your ability to hit that target by seeing how many people are on the same page with you. This is not an end-all goal, but it gives you a specific initial target audience that you can shoot for and build on. This targeted group represents those that you feel a strong, personal connection with. It tells you whether or not the message you’re hoping to deliver, and the stories you tell, are hitting home.
Whatever resonates powerfully with your personally targeted audience gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. But, if the connection to this targeted audience is too narrow or obscure, it may not resonate with a larger audience. So, stay open to the bigger picture of your potential appeal in your voice-driven career.
A Handful of Questions
Whenever possible, solicit feedback in person. After a lesson, presentation, audition, competition, session, or performance, ask a handful of simple questions after first thanking them for their time and attention. These five questions are: what worked best overall? What didn’t work? What did you personally relate to most? What turned you off or shut you down? What would you like to see more of?
As time permits, follow up each question with why or how so that you can get specifics on why something did or didn’t have the appeal you wanted. Listen for any recurring factors and interests. This will help you in the future with selecting material or exploring issues and themes that impact image, style, culture, or musical genre. It can trigger ideas for original songs or prompt a fresh spin on material you already present or perform. This feedback gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience and engage your gift on deeper, more gratifying levels.
Store and update contact information on your fan base. Solicit opinions on a regular basis. Have comment cards available whenever you perform, with your handful of questions printed on the cards. These can be turned in or the responses can be emailed to you. It’s a great way to build a following through your website and through any social networking resources.
Use the forums at SingingSuccess.TV to discuss strategies for finding, growing, and even redefining your target audience so that you can better appeal to their needs. Share the feedback you’ve received from coaches, friends, and fans. Talk about how the feedback has impacted any creative or artistic choices or changes for you. Talk about strategies for helping your fan base process any changes you make. Consider the question: when is it time to make significant changes in how you are perceived as a singer or speaker or voice-driven talent? How should any changes be introduced to fans?
True Training Tools
Be sure to book sessions regularly with Brett Manning’s certified associates to help sharpen your technical skills, to further refine your interpretive abilities, and to enhance your flair for storytelling. Brett’s programs, such as Mastering Mix and Singing Success, will help you remain vocally competent and confident as you grow a strong following for your voice-driven profession.
The success of every voice-driven career depends on strong communication skills. Strong, clear communication is vital to building solid relationships. Those relationships build your fan base. Getting feedback from your audience will help you become a better, more powerful communicator. And that will help you create and share with your fans the compelling story of your singing success or successful voice-driven career.