Luke is unhappy on Tatooine. He lives with his aunt and uncle and dreams of becoming a pilot. One day, in the desert outside his home, Luke meets Obi-wan Kenobi–a Jedi Master. Obi-wan asks Luke to help him save the planet Alderaan. Luke doesn’t go; his aunt and uncle need him. What happens next is tragic.
Stormtroopers incinerate the would-be hero’s relatives, burning their home to the ground. Skywalker is now alone. With nothing left, he decides to join Obi-wan Kenob on his quest to save Alderaan. Luke is about to become a Jedi.
I’m sure you’ve heard that story before. Most people know it by heart. But the plot from Star Wars is actually several thousand years old. It was passed down through major civilizations, cultures, and religions all over the world.
They didn’t refer to it as “Star Wars”.
It’s called the Hero’s Journey–a framework used to tell great stories. And George Lucas borrowed that framework to write the his script.
This is the heroes journey:
1. A would-be hero starts off in their ordinary world…
2. They have an opportunity to go on an adventure and become that hero
3. They resist the opportunity
4. They decide to go on the adventure that will transform them into a hero
The Hero’s Journey is powerful because it’s how we view our own path through life. And it’s the KEY to keeping the attention of people long enough to turn them into a fan of your music.
What does this have to do with building a fan base?
Think about your fans as if they’re walking down a path. You are at one end and they are at the other. The farther they walk along that path the more diehard a fan they become. Guess what leads them down that path?
The Fan’s Journey
Just like the heroes journey, the fans journey has four stages:
1. Ordinary World…
This is a potential fan that has never heard of you or your music before. This might be someone on social media, live performance or anywhere else.
2. Call To Adventure…
This person is aware of you. Maybe they saw you perform, heard your music on Spotify or saw a Facebook post. Either way, this is the first time they are given the opportunity to begin their journey, and perhaps they like, follow, or subscribe to your account.
Getting a Follow or a Like is not all that great. Sure they’re aware of you, and this may seem harsh, but they don’t really care all that much yet. They don’t know if you’re worth paying attention to or not. You have to “woo” them, earn their trust, and focus 100% of your efforts thinking about how you can engage and inspire them.
Sadly, most of us get this part all wrong because we think that we are the “hero.” If this is our perspective then we come across as egocentric. People ignore us if we talk about ourselves too much. If you’ve ever seen the feed of a FB group plastered with posts from musicians promoting themselves then you know what I’m talking about.
The fan is the hero. Not us. It’s our job to guide them on a path that leads them closer to us and our music.
The reason I say that is because people don’t buy art unless they believe in it. Before, people bought physical music because they had to. Today, they can simply download it. The variable in them making that decision lies in whether or not they believe in you and the vision behind your music. That’s why you’ve gotta be on your a-game when a person is in the “resistance” phase.
4. Begin The Adventure
If we win their hearts, and successfully guide them on their path, at that point we will win a true fan. Someone who supports and believes in our music. Whether they buy tickets to a show, music, merchandise, support us on Patreon–or any other crowdfunding site–there are many ways a fan can begin this stage of the journey. Ultimately, it begins when they buy our stuff.
The reason I say that is because people don’t buy art unless they believe in it. Before, people bought physical music because they had to. Today, they can simply download it. The variable in them making that decision lies in whether or not they believe in you and the vision behind your music. (That’s why you’ve gotta be on your a-game when a person is in the “resistance” phase).
In order to remember the fan’s journey, just keep this in mind:
Your fan is Luke…
…your music (and you) are Obi-wan.
The best way to turn people into a dedicated fan is by using your music–and other forms of media–to tell a story over time that they can relate to. So when you’re creating videos, writing music, or chattin’ it up on social media, consider at which stage they are currently at and use that to determine the best way to earn their trust and guide them through their journey.