Finding the fans, part one

Musicians have plenty of frustrations to contend with. Between dealing with their haters and detractors, and banging their heads against the unyielding wall that stands between their artistic efforts and some kind of meaningful financial reward, the battle can be downright exhausting. Sometimes, however, the most difficult thing about being an artist can be finding your audience - not for cynical, commercial gain, but because you know there just have to be folks out there who would really get some joy out of what you're doing - if only they knew you existed. This frustration can even exist within a relatively small community like Denver.

On Monday night, I was hanging out with a friend of mine who also happens to be a singer-songwriter of some local renown, and we were talking about his forthcoming record. He's more pleased with this collection of songs than of anything else he's produced in his many years of making music, and he's eager to unleash it on folks who will enjoy listening to it as much as he enjoyed making it. 

Trouble is that the folks who would most appreciate this record aren't the hip, young pretties who crowd the hi-dive, the manic teenaged masses who frequent the Marquis, the red-eyed denizens of Sancho's or the adherents of any other musical subscene that Denver has to offer. No, my friend's future fans are probably secreted away in spacious suburban homes in Highlands Ranch or too busy helping their kids with science fair projects to make it out to the Meadowlark to catch one of his acoustic sets. 

It's one of the oldest known marketing conundrums: you know your target market, but you have no idea how to reach them. In my friend's case, however, he isn't concerned about the money left on the table - he'd give his CD away, if that's what it took - but instead, he's simply driven by an altruistic desire to share something that might enrich these folks' lives, if only for a moment. 

Even in an era when the means of production and distribution have been put into all of our hands - when it's easier than ever to reach millions of people at almost no cost - it's still a challenge to connect with the folks you most want to connect with. We can scatter our art to the winds, but we have less control than ever over where the dust settles.

Another friend of mine, a DJ who has been making music for a very long time, loves Denver, but thinks there's something fundamentally wrong with our city and our scene that limits an artist's ability to find his fans. We'll check in with him in next week's Makeout.

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