Since the digital revolution and the boom of social media artist-fan relationships became more and more personal. Marketing strategists realised that breaking the barrier between artists/brands and their followers is a cost effective way to build public engagement and spread word of mouth. Big companies like Netflix and Samsung started providing customer service and friendly interactions straight from their Facebook pages. This approach may risk sounding too popular or unprofessional for companies whose brands are built around elegance or exclusivity, where selling the idea of being difficult/unreachable may also build a certain amount of desire, but it’s really effective for the ones whose target is the popular market.
In the end of the day, these companies realised that gathering fans of their brand/image is just as important as gathering fans of their products or work. And, for creative practitioners, this is definitely the way to go.
But at what cost?
For artists, being closer to their fans means not only that their work is being subjected to a direct popular pressure but also their lives. The larger the fan base, the more likely the creative practitioner is to end up unpleasing a certain share of it, and backlashing a criticism. Some of these critics may be good to the artist’s growth as a human being: everybody makes mistakes and (ideally) should learn from them; but, in the other hand, it may shorten its creative boundaries and compromise the reason why their fans are following their work in the first place.
Therefore, if not approached correctly this dilemma can make the artist second guess its work, life and even itself. It may lead the practitioner to over think its actions to a point where some of them forget their identity and whether their decisions are or not being made by themselves, feeling enclosed into a matrix, leading to an overuse of heavy drugs and other psychological escapes, where, in the end, the art will be compromised.
Fans as part of the art.
Online interactions got so easy and powerful nowadays that some of the creative practitioners are allowing its followers to have a direct impact in their arts, where, in some cases, they become the creators themselves.
In “The Johnny Cash Project” fans are invited to draw into random frames that together form the always changing video clip for Johnny Cash’s song “Ain’t no Grave”. It’s impressive how, although draw by thousands of random people, the video clip still has a main aesthetic and coherence. Which leads us to the thinking that diverging the art from the artist’s centralized idea sometimes may not be a bad thing after all.
Where, if your intention is to deliver a content that your public wants, there’s no one better than themselves to decide what it is.