By Lorraine Lawson
If you are in business of any kind, and that includes being an artist, a performer, a musician, a producer, a songwriter; you MUST know how get the audience's attention and after you do, being able to keep it.
From the first moment you walk in any room, the question you should ask is, ‘Are you able to make heads turn towards you?’ This requires the ability to shift people’s focus from whatever they were doing, to become glued on you and what you want to do instead.
There is a great quote from the producer Timberland “A real artist can change the temperature in the room.” This means, the person with the biggest personality, the most vibe, the loudest voice is expected to be able to guide the direction of what happens and when.
These people are the ones who hold the key to getting the results everyone around them wants. These people can generate a feeling in others that gets everyone super pumped up and excited about what is going to happen. But that’s not all; they need to able to instil the confidence in the people around that what ever they say is going to happen, is going to be amazing!
Over the years of working with hundreds of people in every industry, I have noticed a common theme. Many people believe they can reach success from what they do alone and very few ever look at who they are as the reason for their success. Maybe their goal is to get more shows and bigger shows. They believe they can fulfill their goals on the merit of their amazing professional skills instead of appreciating the number one thing they must be able to do is prove they can attract and keep the audience’s attention before any agent or promoter is going to take notice.
Let’s face it, attracting the audience is increasingly challenging especially with massive amounts of people on social media all competing to get people's attention. No matter what industry you are in, selling yourself on the merit of your past successes can definitely get you in the right doors. But make no mistake, it’s not enough to keep you in the room or make a piece of content on social media go viral. It flips the switch on aspiring artists simply training their professional skills and puts an equal, if not greater emphasis on developing their personal skills as the ultimate reason they can convert followers into fans and fans into people who buy concert tickets.
There are so many examples of people wanting to work together not because of the work itself but because they simply like each other. This bond between colleagues, teammates, and collaborators can be seen in every industry. People in business hire more often than not, based on personality over skill because they know if the person has the right personality they can train the professional skills needed for the job. It is extremely tough to train someone who doesn’t want to learn or who doesn’t care or will easily get flustered when something goes wrong.
We all want to work with people who can help us solve problems. We want to surround ourselves with people who may challenge us to be better, faster, stronger and support us in our failures just as much as our accomplishments. Surrounding yourself with the right people at the right time becomes the goal instead of attracting just anyone and certainly the wrong people.
So what does it take to develop the personal qualities to attract the right people at the right time?
There are tricks and tools people can learn to develop who they are, and the ability to effectively express who they are in the world so they can attract, captivate, inspire and influence everyone around them.
Lady Gaga has said, “A true Artist is someone with a strong opinion.” Let’s take that one step further and add you not only need to have a unique opinion of the world, of relationships, situations and events around you BUT you must have a ridiculously strong desire to share these views with other people in the music you create and your message on and off stage as well. This requires you to develop the communication skills to deliver your unique message in the most memorable way.
There is an implied narcissism to the idea your opinion is so incredibly important you believe it’s worthy of captivating other people’s attention. Even the idea you can turn your dreams into reality requires a level of belief in yourself that very few people possess. It is the main reason so many people with seemingly lesser talent or abilities achieve greater success than other people.
The rise of the personal brand can be felt in every industry. It has surpassed the era of the corporate brand and its influence over the audience. Years ago, the audience could be influenced by what the major record labels told them was the next big musical act. They would hire PR teams to get the image of the artist in the faces of audiences everywhere. They paid huge amounts of money to radio stations to play the artist’s song over and over in high enough rotation to dominate the air waves so the audience would have no choice but believe the song was a hit.
Today, people are smarter. The audience is discovering content that resonates with them more organically. They connect with the message the artist expressed on and off stage just as much as the message in the songs they are recording and releasing. It has never been easier for an independent artist to attract their ideal audience especially when they share who they are, what they love to do, why they do it and who they want to do it for.
Taylor Swift has become the highest grossing artist of all time. She just won her 4th Grammy for Album of the Year. The most of any artist. A few years ago it was noticeable her success exploded when she switched her focus away from desperately trying to get the industry’s approval and instead put her attention on her relationship with her fan base. She stopped trying to present herself as perfect and started to share her disappointments and struggles and as a result, her loyal audience loved her even more for that level of honesty.
Let’s look at 4 steps you can implement right now to start attracting your audience at a higher level.
There is a theory which says ‘Success leaves clues’. There is always someone else who is doing what you want to do at a higher level that you can learn from. You can observe their successes and their failures and by doing so, can accelerate your own journey by implementing those tactics and strategies..
In my coaching programs at LVS, we always say, the problem is never in ‘HOW’ to get to where you want to be. There are always lots of options, strategies, and paths to achieving what you want. It’s just a matter of how unstoppable you are willing to be in order to keep trying until you get to your destination. Those who are get there and those who aren’t won’t. Your job is to find the people who you can model your path after. Try what they are doing. Notice what’s working and then make it your own. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t get brownie points because you did it all on your own, your own way. Successful people use and utilize what has worked in the past, bring it into the present by adding your personal twists and turns.
Make a list of 3 to 10 people who are doing what you want to do at higher level. Be careful, this is not an exercise to make yourself feel small by comparing yourself to other people, rather this is an exercise to get the wheels of inspiration started!
Make another list of the people you would love to work with one day. Notice who they are as a person. Notice where they live in the world. Notice who they are currently working with. Notice what they are interested in. Notice if there are any interests that over lap with your own. Take note because you never know when you might meet these people in the future and when you do you will be able to have a deeper conversation based on these things that connect you not just on ‘work’.
Observing other people’s success has become easier with social media. In addition to noticing the things you like and don’t like, the things that work and don’t work, the things you have in common or don’t have in common, you can notice what their audience likes and dislikes too. All this information will inform how you want to engage with your audience and you can start to make similar style content with the knowledge it works.
MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN
If you want to start to get people’s attention, you have to be seen by the right people at the right time. This is why I came up with the phrase, ‘Make yourself known’.
Start hanging out where your audience, including industry collaborators like to spend time. If it’s online, go to the same people you were following and observing and now start liking, commenting and interacting with their social media content. Don’t just leave an emoji. Think about saying something that will not only get the person you are leaving the comment for’s attention, but you will quickly notice you will get their audiences attention too. Real fans read the comments. As you make yourself known, notice if they comment back and when they do, be sure to send a personal DM to further develop your relationship with them.
Another way to make yourself known is to be seen in person by attending industry events, conferences, parties and shows. Join programs and communities and any where else you can think of, so you can be seen by the right people and use these groups as a place to gain instant confidence and validation just by the association with them.
With both strategies, the more you can be seen, the more you will be top of mind. I know artists who have gotten opening spots on big tours because they followed this strategy.
MAKE A MOVE/MAKE A DIFFERENCE
By this point you have made yourself known to the people you want to collaborate with or want as your biggest fans. In your observations, you may have noticed what might be missing or some type of problem you might be able to solve for them. Before you make a move and make a request of someone you want to work with or ask for help or even ask fans to buy tickets to your show or download your latest song, you first need to figure out ways to bring them value. Think about how you can solve a problem or make a difference for them and in doing so you will develop a more meaningful and lasting connection.
This step is often missing from most emerging artists strategies. People make requests too early and become devastated and disappointed too quickly. They create incredibly produced content and expect it to go viral instead of realizing they need to create a meaningful relationship with the audience which can take time.
It’s important to reach significant measurable results before making a request of anyone. They need to trust you and that starts by being consistent. When you are showing and sharing you you are and what you love to do and why you do it and the difference what you do can make over and over, you will attract the right people to you.
There is psychological component people need to understand when getting the attention of other people. There is natural momentum that happens when people notice someone’s rocket is going up. All of a sudden people want to jump on. People are attracted to a sure thing not just the potential of what might be. As much as the entertainment industry is like a winning the lottery or gambling at the casino, people want to bet on the person who is generating real momentum already.
Another way to bring value and make a difference is to align yourself with a charity or organization. Look for how you might be able to offer your skills and in exchange you can get to be seen by that charity’s audience, accelerating the growth of your fan base as a result.
This strategy has been used by countless athletes, movie stars, politicians and business owners. It is a win win is every way and while you align yourself with making a difference, you not only are able to grow your business, you establish a longer lasting legacy for yourself along the way.
Be patient!! All success takes time. Your job is to continue to grow and improve each day, each month and year. There are no rules to success. There is no saying how long it could take to reach your goals. But I can assure you , when you follow the advice in this article you will move forward. You will be able to align yourself and attract the right people at the right time. You will lessen your feelings of disappointment and gain new exciting relationships that will motivate and inspire you.
Attracting the audience comes down to a simple phrase. ‘Make people feel special.’ This is the secret to success and developing your ability to connect with people not just by what you do but with who you are, you can attract your ideal audience for years to come.
Lorraine Lawson is the CEO of LVS, Vocal & Performance Coach, Schitts Creek/The Launch/Grammy & Juno Winning Artists, Key Note Speaker, Author and Mentor