As a marketing guy, I think it's really important to "keep tabs" on how the people I market to think and feel. If you want to sell something, you've got to understand the people you want to sell to and why they do what they do.
This is especially important for songwriters. To write a song people will love and relate to, you've got to know your audience like you know yourself. What are their biggest dreams? What are their biggest fears?
This is why Taylor Swift is killing it right now. She is her audience.
But what happens if you're not your audience? For that, I suggest going where your audience goes, reading what they read, etc.
Hank Williams did this. Merle Kilgore, perhaps best known as the writer of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire", once said this about him...
"He would read True Romance comic books. My sister had True Romance comic books, and I'd say, `What do you read those sissy comic books for, Hank?' And he said, `Sissy, hell! Where do you think I get my ideas from? Listen to this line, `Why I can't I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart.'"
And what happens when you lose touch?
Like it or not, as evolving people, we all do...eventually. And as musicians, one of the worst things that can happen career-wise is for us to forget what it's like to be a fan of music.
As a musician, it can be difficult to think back to a time when you didn't play music, but wanted to. Or maybe just thinking back to a time when music was something more to you than a way to make a living is tough.
Does this sound like you? If so, I highly recommend that you check out The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz.
This book will take you into the mind of a "superfan" who has a life centered around music-- exactly the kind of fan you want and should be reaching out to!
By the way, Yvonne Prinz is the owner of Amoeba Music, the world's largest independent record store. So the knows a little something about music buyers...
I found out about this book from my friend Wendy, who is in the publishing business and has a blog dedicated to young adult fiction. She did an interview with Yvonne Prinz, which I've linked below.
How do you stay in touch with the needs of your fans? Post thoughts below...