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Have you ever heard of a “customer avatar”? If you’ve done any research on music marketing, chances are you’re familiar.

They’re a perfect example of some of the worthless, counterintuitive advice we’re given by marketing professional and “gurus” trying to tell us how best to grow an audience and earn income from music.

What an “avatar” is and why they’re stupid

In case you’re unfamiliar with the oh-so useless customer avatar, here’s a quick refresher.

Companies use avatars to clarify who their customer is.

To make one, theyl find a stock picture of a person, give it a name (“Sally” for example). And list all the stats of the person. Where they work. What they’re average day is like. Before making business decisions they consult the avatar, asking “how would ‘Sally’ feel about this?”

Record labels use customer Avatars; companies like Apple and Google use them. They’re fine for a corporation, but for a musician playing live they’re totally stupid.

Why?

Because we’re right in front of the people who are our “customers” every time we perform. It makes no sense to “guess” what our fans like or dislike when we can just effing asking them ourselves.

If you’re using avatars to describe your ideal fan, you’re missing the point of what it means to connect with people as a performing artist. And it’s probably due to following the illogical bass-ackwards advice you’re getting on the internet these days. Especially if you’re playing live locally, and want to grow a fanbase and get out of your hometown, here’s what you want to do instead: Dialogue. Talking to people. What a concept.

Dialogue is critical

Great music alone isn’t enough to get people to shows. And it’s not always enough to get people’s attention.
Think of it this way, to win fans at every show, there is a gap that you have to close. Your music is the bridge but dialogue is what gets people to cross it. In addition, dialogue gives you a ‘sixth sense’ about how to craft your brand because you’ve dropped your assumptions about who your fans are and actually asked.

I discuss this in detail in my course 1K With Music, but when we talk to people on and off the stage, not only do we get to know our fans and get clear on our brand, but people pay more attention to our music. And if you do it right it’s easier to get grow an audience. Not only do we get to know our fans and get clear on our brand, but people pay more attention to our music. It’s easier to get people to cross the gap our music bridges and grow a local following.

What do you think?

Have had trouble getting people’s attention at gigs? Is it hard to connect or easy for you? Can you do it with your music alone? Or do you think having conversations will make it easier? Let me know in the comments below.

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