The Importance of Fans

black-acoustic-electric-guitar-1382081-mA few days ago, I went to see a couple of guys play music at a bar. One of the men was unfamiliar to me, but the other I’d been a fan of for years. I won’t tell you his name–I’m not here to drag anyone down–so let’s call him Mr. X. For whatever reason, his music resonates with me. Since Mr. X no longer lives in my neck of the woods, I hadn’t seen him perform in quite awhile–ten, fifteen years, maybe? As you can probably guess, I was excited to attend the show.

And Mr. X didn’t disappoint. Great guitar work, smooth vocals, funny banter.

But Mr. X did disappoint after the show. On my way out of the club, I stopped to look at the obligatory table full of CD’s and thought about buying one. By complete coincidence, Mr. X turned up a few minutes later. He readily shook my husband’s hand, asked him his name, etc. Me, he ignored. Even when my husband mentioned that I was a fan of his, the best he could say was, “Oh, yeah?” before turning his attention elsewhere. At the end of this ten second exchange, I realized that Mr. X hadn’t even made eye contact with me, not that I could tell, anyway.  And, no, I wasn’t drunk, fawning, stalking, groveling, hollering, giggling, or otherwise acting the idiot. I was just one of the faceless people in the crowd who happened to pass by on my way out the door. Really. No, really.

Here’s the thing: if Mr. X had shaken my hand or said, “Glad you like my music,” or, heck, just looked me in the eye, I would’ve forked over ten bucks for one of his CD’s. I’d already paid much more just to listen to his music. Needless to say, I left without making a purchase.

As an author, I’m aware of the need for fans. And as an indie author, I’m acutely aware of the need. They’re the people responsible for the checks (meager, though they may be) that hit my bank account each month. Even the big guys can’t afford to snub readers (though some do, I’m sure) because readers are the ones who catapult them to the bestseller list each year, the ones who pay for their vacation home in Antigua, etc., etc.

Let’s face it, outside of a few scary individuals, fans are just people who’ve gravitated toward a particular thing or person or business they like. They don’t turn up at gigs or book signings or movie premiers or product launches to steal your soul. They show up to support you, sometimes monetarily. Now, if they show up at your house, that’s a different kettle of fish, one that requires a restraining order, and certainly not the good folks I’m talking about.

Could be that Mr. X was having an off night. Maybe he had a headache or was hungry or tired or just plain sick and tired. I get that. I’m sure it’s hard to be “on” for hours without a break. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt that night.

I just didn’t give him my ten bucks.

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How about you? Ever have a disappointing experience like mine? Ever have a good experience? Share!

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