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The Glaringly Obvious Difference Between Good and Bad Artist/Fan Engagement

5th May 2014 3 comments

Just a few moments ago, cherished Facebook friend Trent Vanegas of Pink is the new Blog shared some rather contrasting photos.
The first series were of Avril Lavigne, who Vanegas learned charges fans $400 for meet and greet privileges. One would think after paying such a fee a ‘fan’ would at least get a handshake, a thank you, and perhaps a nice photo with a toothy grin of, I would presume a favorite artist (I can’t imagine anyone is paying $400 to meet someone they like one song by). On the contrary: Apparently Lavigne’s meet and has quite a few rules attached to it. Obviously any artist would apply conditions to such an event; they’d have to, but Lavigne seems to take it to the point of negating the entire experience. Fans may not touch Ms. Lavigne and fans must remain at arm’s length from Ms. Lavigne at all times. Now, I can’t say I blame her for having this put into a contract. Being a woman in the music industry can be tricky, downright creepy at times. It’s an industry dominated by men who often feel entitled to do whatever they wish. I can’t say I blame her for wanting to at least be able to control not being touched by everyone who walks in to meet her. That said, I do find it strange that she actually won’t touch her fans. It makes her come across as uncomfortable, awkward, unapproachable, inaccessible, and perhaps even ungrateful. That’s not to say she is any of those things. She may be agoraphobic or be getting over an auto-immune disease for all I know. Perhaps she just doesn’t like to meet people; who knows? The thing is this: If any of those things are true, she shouldn’t be doing this. Doing meet and greets this way is damaging her reputation far more than not doing any meet and greets would. If people are willing to pay $400 to get an awkward photo, those people would probably be just as happy with a wave and a scribbled Sharpie autograph.

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How to Actually Engage With Your Fans

The opposite end of this spectrum is Kelly Clarkson. Also mentioned in Vanegas’ article on Pink is the New Blog is the noticeable difference between the way Avril Lavigne interacts with her fans and the way Kelly Clarkson interacts with hers. While Lavigne has her fee in place in addition to her strictly enforced, set in stone rules, Clarkson meets fans at every opportunity, trades jokes, laughs, builds rapport, and creates memories that fans will remember. What’s more, Clarkson herself is often the one to initiate these events!

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Obviously no two people are going to handle a situation in the same manner and I’d certainly never fault someone for being shy or not wanting to touch or be touched by strangers. The larger issue is the overall lack of engagement by Lavigne and those who handle these situations in a similar manner. While they may wave at a few people and collect their paychecks, they’re not actually doing anything to maintain their relationships with their fans in the long run. The photos from the Lavigne meet and greets are becoming as viral as the Awkward Family Photos everyone loves to look at sheepishly, but Avril Lavigne does not look like an artist who is happy to be in a single one of those photos.
Clarkson, meanwhile, is having a fabulous time in each of her fan photos and the memories she created with each of those people are what make fans support an artist’s career. That mentality is what makes people buy records, concert tickets, and merchandise. It doesn’t take much for an artist to create a long lasting loyalty but it does take some effort. If, for any reason, the artist isn’t able to put that forth, it’s best to look for alternative ways to engage with fans.

To see the entire gallery of photos of both Lavigne and Clarkson, view it on Pink is the New Blog
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