Sometimes, the strangest, least expected things can relate to fandom. This week, I was reminded of that in a big way. Anyone besides me follow politics? Interestingly enough, politics and fandom aren’t really that different. In the case of politics, a candidate wants to win over voters and keep the ones they already have. Bands like Duran want to do something similar. They want news fans and keep the ones who have been around for while. The question, then, becomes how to do that.
Up until recently, I, personally, went with the standard assumptions about how to get voters/fans. In the case of politics, I assume that candidates have to fundraise. After all, I had my candidate fund raise. I know that a lot of people cringe when it comes to fund raising. It seems icky and it really isn’t very fun. But money is needed. It just is. Candidates need money for everything from paying staff, to advertising, to printing materials, to creating literature, to buying office supplies, etc and so forth. Interestingly enough, bands need money, too. For example, creating an album doesn’t come for free. Studios cost money as do producers, additional musicians, artists for artwork, etc and so forth. This is why I never fault Duran for playing private gigs. That money helps with production and touring costs, right?
This week, though, I wondered if the typical way to raise funds and get supporters is the only way. Two events led me to question this. First, early in the week, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign came out with their second quarter fundraising totals. (Campaigns have to declare all of their earnings to follow campaign finance laws.) Her campaign raised $19 million. That is a serious chunk of change. What is most interesting about this amount is that she did not do it in the usual way. She did not seek out donors at big money fundraisers like most in politics do. Instead she got the money from more than 384,000 separate donors with an average of $28. That is a lot of different people. When I heard that, I was impressed and intrigued. Then, I saw a tweet that really made me think. The tweet indicated that Warren made that money by taking selfies with countless number of people. Hmmm….Interesting.
Then, last night, I decided to see the candidate in action myself. (In full disclosure, I have seen her before but when she was campaigning for others rather than herself.) On top of paying attention to her message and how she delivers it, I also watch for how the campaign is being organized. (I would have a hard time supporting a candidate, if their campaign was unorganized.) At the end of the question and answer session, her Midwest director indicated that Senator Warren would stay for everyone who wanted a selfie to get one and that if you were interested to form a line on the right side of the gym. (It was in a high school gym.) Now, I had heard that she was doing this but…I wasn’t certain that she would really stay for each and every person in this incredibly long line. We are talking hundreds of people and this was after a town hall and a convention appearance before that! How much energy could one person have? I decided to line up and find out for myself.
The line for selfies was long and stretched out of the gym and almost out of the high school. My friend and I were towards the back and it took over an hour for us just to make it back *into* the gym. We started questioning if the wait would be worth it. As we got closer to the stage where the Senator stood, I watched closely to see how these selfies were being done. First, her staff was taking people’s belongings so that they would not have anything in their hands to worry about once they got on the stage. They would then hand the stuff back as people exited. Nice. That’s organized and helpful. Then, there were multiple people on the stage taking the pictures. Clearly, there was one photographer connected to the campaign and another person who would take people’s phones to take the pictures. Super cool.
What about Senator Warren herself? She greeted each and every person with a handshake and exchanged a sentence or two. While it went fast, I doubt any person in the line felt it was impersonal or assembly line like. It was a genuine interaction. In my case, she immediately commented on my shirt (one of hers with a positive pro-woman message). Then, I mentioned that I was also a teacher. She was completely impressed by that, too. (She was a teacher as well!) Then, when I look at my phone to check out the picture, I noticed that the photographer didn’t just take the posed photo but photos of the entire interaction from the handshake through the exchange of words to the posed moment. Wow. I think about the previous photos I have gotten with important people and how I wished I had the entire events captured like that. I cannot help but to share the photos here to show you what I mean.
So, how am I feeling about Senator Warren now? I am feeling super pumped, that’s how. Was it just the selfie that did it? No but the personal touch matters. It makes me feel wanted. Her campaign has already reached out to me since then. That matters, too. Everyone wants to feel wanted and appreciated. So, to bring this back to fandom. If Warren is getting supporters and donors simply through quality messaging and personal touches, could a band do the same? What would it do for your fandom if Duran held selfie lines like this? Would it make you more determined to support them? Buy their products? Food for thought.