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Accepting Your Audience

June 9, 2009

A close friend of mine is in, what I would consider, a fairly successful band. They sell tickets, they sell merch, they move units…but there is one problem; he doesn’t like his audience.

As he’s grown older, so has his musical taste. He no longer floats in the world that his audience still does. He wants a different audience to enjoy his music. So to do so he’s compromising his own integrity and music to get it.

It’s always a problem when you try and please everyone. Typically you end up pleasing no one, especially yourself.

I’ve read that John Lennon wanted Bob Dylan’s older, more musically discerning andĀ  poetically appreciative audience. Lennon got that audience on his 5th album, not off of his first. Genre transcending songs that please every audience are possible, but that typically doesn’t happen right away. Have patience, and appreciate the audience that you have because remember, you’re not entitled to an audience. Hopefully as you grow they will too.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2009 1:13 pm

    Patience is underrated.

  2. June 16, 2009 10:25 am

    You’re correct in that this becomes a delicate balancing act of doing the kind of music you want and pleasing your audience.

    Your friend may be surprised at how many fans follow over if he tries something new. Or maybe they don’t. As you said, Lennon didn’t get to the point he wanted until his 5th album. But if he hadn’t tried, he never would have.

    Not to put them in the same boat, but Chris Cornell is doing the same type of thing right now. His interview in Guitar World this month goes into the whole idea that he knows people aren’t going to like his new album, but it’s what he wants to do anyway.

    Yes, no one is entitled to an audience. And every member of the fan base should be appreciated. But I suspect the fans want the artists to make music they enjoy to.

    My solution for this has been to train my audience from early on to expect me to change on a regular basis. And most of them follow me right along from one musical vein to another.

    And some don’t. Some people are only fans of my older, serious song. Some are only fans of the new comedy music I pay the bills with now. But most of the them like to hear both.

    Maybe your friend should concentrate not on what kind of audience he wants, but what kind of music he wants to make. He may end up educating some of his current audience and gathering a new one in the process.

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