Dating Your Audience

People don’t realize how difficult artists have it.

We have to create something that is “true” to us, but we have to make it readily available to people we’ve never met before. Of course, no one creates art to be commercially viable, as the saying goes, but if people didn’t pay for it, everyone would be good at it. There would be no value in art. Warhol wouldn’t be Warhol and Poe would be another drug-related statistic.

When you begin writing for your audience, you’re removing the ability to provide an escape, which is what art does.

There’s No Escapism in Baseball

When you let what the audience wants influence your writing, you’re certainly not being “true” to yourself or the characters you’ve created. However, if you are “true” to your vision, there is a very high probability that no one will understand exactly what you’re trying to do and it will never be seen or heard.

Thus, your vision will die.

This is why I think we should all “date” our audiences.

You set the tone of the relationship early on by being the dominant personality. You’re deciding when you’re going out to dinner and where. The relationship provides a feigned exclusivity and you will always give enough to keep them interested.

The Steps:

Surprise them with nice gifts (your work)
Call upon them to be an active participant (solicit feedback)
Don’t talk too much about anyone else (other fans or admirers)

If your plan is to steal the audience from other artists, then be prepared to do everything that other team is doing longer, faster and better.

Much like a real relationship, there may be a time when one of the parties is ready to go in another direction.

Let that happen.

There may also be a time when your relationship becomes “serious”, and a bond is formed. It’s important to realize that a loyal customer, reader or solicitor doesn’t necessarily have to be the loudest person, or the most extreme. It’s just the person that values and appreciates the relationship most.

Everyone has an opinion on how you gain an audience but usually it sounds something like: you can buy their attention (ads) or just buy them (swag).

Unfortunately, those types of “razzle dazzle” don’t accomplish much, at least not for very long. If you want to see results, be honest and present things of value to your audience.

And if you haven’t gotten it by now, this post wasn’t just about art.

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