It is said by some that it is not an artists’ job to meet their fans, which, in theory, is true. However, it is also not a fans job to do anything more than listen to an artist’s music, but when they chose to continuously support them by buying merchandise, albums, concert tickets, and dedicating social media accounts to them, an artist should be appreciative of that. In today’s industry, fan interaction is as easy as a follow or even a tweet that takes less than a minute, but ends up meaning the world to a fan. When a fan feels that they are valued, they are more willing to do favors and go to extremes for an artist, which increases their passion and additionally has the possibility to attract potential fans to the experience that an artist offers. Regardless of what level of success someone is at, whether they are playing clubs or stadiums, ALL artists can learn a lesson from Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and even Gary Vaynerchuk.
With everything that she has done over the past few years, Taylor Swift has built the reputation of being one of the best celebrities with fans. Her constant efforts and meaningful gestures continue to set the bar high for other celebrities, and she never ceases to prove to fans how thankful she is of them. Over the past year, she has created multiple opportunities for her biggest fans, including the “1989 Secret Sessions” which consisted of five different sessions that invited 89 fans to each for the opportunity to listen to the 1989 album with Swift before it was released, “Swiftmas” during which Swift sent her biggest fans personalized Christmas gifts which she had chosen herself, and “Loft 89” which allowed selected fans from each of her 1989 tour dates to meet her after the show. It is obvious that Swift has invested time into deciding how to properly thank her fans, and that she genuinely cares about meeting those who do the most for her. She understands how her biggest fans chose to support her, and knows what to look for in order to ensure that she finds and rewards the most passionate. For the “1989 Secret Sessions” and “Swiftmas”, Swift chose fans off of social media who have accounts dedicated to supporting her, and her post-show “Loft 89” chose fans out of the crowd who made costumes and signs, and who were seen enjoying the concert the most. Additionally, every time that Swift meets fans she never rushes them and takes the time to talk and take pictures with each person individually. She once said herself once that she never stops hugging a fan first because she does not know how badly that fan needs the hug. Taylor has extended her fan relationship past simply meeting fans, and has invested time into getting to know them by constantly interacting with their fan accounts and creating the feeling that she not only knows them but is involved in their lives and cares about them. In November 2014, she flew to Connecticut because one of her biggest fans whom she had previously met had a three-year-old son and Taylor wanted to bring him presents before Christmas. During the 2015 Grammy’s, Taylor saw that one of the fans that she followed on Tumblr had posted about attending the event, and Taylor literally tracked her down in order to meet her. She even makes the effort to go through fan mail and invitations, and once surprised a fan at her bridal shower. There have additionally been multiple stories of her stopping her car and rolling down the window when driving by fans wearing her t-shirts on the street. Swift understands how much her fans have done for her, and always creates opportunities to thank them for that. She may not meet fans waiting outside of hotels and events, however, she has determined comfortable ways that allow her to meet people and does so at every opportunity.
Ed Sheeran is another really good example of how fans should be treated and takes on strategy slightly different than Swift’s. His constant efforts to meet fans can be credited to his experience growing up as a huge fan of certain artists which has allowed him to know exactly how he would have wanted to be treated as a fan. Sheeran is an artist who does not offer any form of “Meet and Greet” all together, but meets people none the less. Whenever fans line up outside of venues, hotels, interviews, he generally always makes the effort and takes the time to meet them. Artists forget that fans understand how busy they are and never expect much, however even the smallest gestures to acknowledge them mean the world. Even if it is simply making the effort to quickly roll down a window while pulling out of a parking lot, Sheeran always ensures that his fans are at least acknowledged. When he was in Toronto in September 2015 for his “X” tour, he met fans throughout the day who had been waiting outside of his hotel and the parking garage at the venue. Additionally, even after his sold out arena show had finished, he chose to exit the venue through a side door in order to meet the fans waiting by his tour buses. However, he did not get in the tour bus himself, he was picked up by a black SUV which he would have had to request to meet him outside where his fans were instead of underground. Just like Swift, Sheeran is an incredible example of an artist who never fails to show his gratitude towards fans, and has found a way to meet them at every opportunity, in a way that best suits him. His strategy additionally allows him to meet his biggest fans because they are the ones willing to wait for hours hoping to see him, which he understands and definitely makes the effort to make it worth it for them.
Gary Vaynerchuk does not fit into the same category as Swift and Sheeran in the sense that he is not a musician himself, however still demonstrates an incredible relationship with his followers that surpasses most artist/fan relationships. If you have not heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, do yourself a favor and google his work as soon as possible (after reading this of course). Vaynerchuk is a savvy business person who grew his father’s wine business from three million in revenue to sixty million in just five years and he started his social media company Vaynermerdia which he has grown to $100 million in revenues. With over a million followers on each of his social platforms (@garyvee), he never fails to devote daily time to interacting with fans on various platforms, not only acknowledging them, but providing them with value. He additionally runs the #AskGaryVee show several times a week for the sole purpose of providing people with tips and advice to help build and run businesses and to follow their dreams. Gary Vaynerchuk completely puts the excuse of “not having the time” to rest, because despite having a schedule completely packed from 7am to 2am, he never fails to find time to show his appreciation for his followers. I highly encourage anyone reading this to watch at least ONE of his DailyVee shows, which follows him throughout a full day’s work and completely puts the idea of being busy in perspective. While he was in London, England last month, Vaynerchuk recognized that there were many fans in the area who were disappointed because they did not have the opportunity to attend his book signing, so he decided to organize a meet up for them one night. He posted his location on multiple social platforms, and when he arrived there were roughly three hundred people who had showed up. Vaynerchuk said in his “I WISH” DailyVee that although it took him hours to meet everyone, there were people standing there for hours willing to wait to meet him, which he recognized, appreciated, and acknowledged by making it worth it for them and taking pictures and talking to each person individually.
Artists should never forget the value of their fans. Frankly, many are getting lazy and use other artist/fan relationships as the basis of their own. Every artist needs to find a way which makes them most comfortable to meet and interact with fans to ensure that they constantly feel appreciated. With social media, fan interaction has become more simple and faster than ever, and it is vital that artists make that extra effort for fans because the relationship that they have with them is frankly, what makes or breaks their career. When an artist says that they are not required to meet or interact with people, fans are left feeling unappreciated, and are less inclined to do as much for that artist. Fans are the people that give artists their careers, and if they do not want to meet them or even thank them for that, it comes off as them taking their success for granted. Treating fans well and continuously showing them your appreciation causes a ripple effect of word of mouth that spreads on social sites and naturally builds an honest and humble reputation. Artists should never forget the early stags of their careers when it is the fans who make their success possible. It may not be their job to meet fans, but it is owed to them to at least be acknowledged, and if there is time, to be met. An effort which may not take any no longer than few minutes will create a lasting impact on the fan who has spent years dreaming and hoping for that moment.
Side note: I mentioned Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Gary Vaynerchuk because I am a fan of all of them myself and stay updated with what they do with fans. However, there are many artists who treat their fans incredibly, some including Ariana Grande who took Toronto fans waiting outside of her hotel out to lunch and Rihanna who flew her biggest fans out to her home in Barbados for a meal cooked by her.