Fans are fans for many reasons. As an artist, it can be interesting and instructive to try to imagine why anybody might even want to be your fan. You might not want any fans, or you might want lots of fans, but fans choose you, so you’re going to get them, whether you like it or not (or maybe get none, even if you wish you had some). Whatever happens, always remember to be grateful. Your fans will see something in you that maybe you can’t recognise in yourself. They might also amplify the importance of aspects of yourself that you feel are minor or minimise aspects that you hold dear. Don’t worry. It’s not actually only about you.
In most cases, it’s all about them as much as it’s about you. Fans choose people to follow because they perceive something in you that appeals to them. Here’s a list of some of the reasons people might want to be your fan:
- You express what they wish they could say
- You are lucid where they are tongue tied
- You are the type of person they wish to be
- You live the life they wish they could live
- You are the type of person they wish was their partner
- You understand and articulate what they are feeling
- You can do what they wish they could do (e.g. guitar God)
- You are the sort of person they wish everybody was like
- You appear not to fear the things they fear
- You lack the inhibitions they feel inhibit them
- You represent an alternative
- You exhibit acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, sharing, generosity, altruism, love, understanding, helpfulness and encouragement, which society does not appear to value highly (with money and prestige) but which individuals actually do
Notice that it is hardly about your art at all. It’s about you, the person and what you articulate through your art.
Notice, also, that it’s mostly about how they, the fans, wish they could be. Choosing to be a fan expresses an aspiration and a hope. Being an artist that has fans (and remember you have no choice in this) bestows a responsibility upon you to live up to these ideals, in as far as that is humanly possible and to try your best not to disappoint. It’s quite an honour, really. Some artists find the responsibility burdensome and restrictive, but others find it lifts them into a higher state of being. Your reaction is up to you, but I refer you all to my previous post about hubris and humility.
In the age of twitter, we now can all have fans and followers, just as easily as being a fan and a follower. For the first time, perhaps, ordinary people have to react to being the object of fandom. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
If you are an artist and you aspire to have fans, what will you do and what will you be that you think others will want to do and be?