Biting And Feeding The Hands That Feed: Audience-Musician Interactions Online

We know that audiences are engaged in all kinds of practices online that change the ways they relate to one another and to the things they’re into. But how does all that affect the people they’re talking about – and sometimes talking to?

In a keynote talk at Transforming Audiences 3 in London last week, I address that question, drawing on the interviews I’ve been doing with musicians.

As always, the talk is cc licensed for noncommercial use with attribution, so read it, and if you dig it, share it:


I’m still working through this material, so all feedback is welcome.

Fans or Friends? An interview

I recently did an interview with Dave Cool for Bandzoogle’s blog.

We covered topics like how social media have affected online fandom, benefits and challenges of social media, whether bands need to use social media and/or have their own website, whether they can keep mystique, whether they ought to be trying to be friends with fans, and even a bit on how I mix personal and professional in my online identity and why.

Read part 1 and part 2.

Fans or Friends?

Last weekend I gave a talk at the International Communication Association about the increasingly interpersonal nature of the relationships between musicians and friends. In it, I draw on the interviews I’ve done with musicians to identify some of the positive new rewards they get when they can interact directly with their fans, cover many of the tricky interpersonal issues they face in trying to negotiate how much those relationships can be like friendship, and briefly summarize the main strategies they use to manage boundaries in ways with which they are comfortable.

Here it is in PDF form for download:

Fans or Friends?

Any and all feedback (especially the constructive kind) is welcomed!


Beautiful and Strange

The last thing I would seem to need is another blog given that I don’t keep this one up, but I made one anyway.

I am calling my ongoing project about musician-audience relationships Beautiful and Strange, following a quote from one of my interviewees about his connections and contacts with his audience. The Beautiful and Strange blog is where I am collecting the relevant bits I run across online.

My thinking is that the more extended reflections about the project will show up here on Online Fandom while the straight links will show up there. Probably not a best practice – my husband jokingly asked if I was “diluting my brand” and I may well be – but I wanted all my links in one spot where others could share them too and that’s what I’ve done. So there.

Also, excerpts of the interviews are getting published on MIDEM’s blog. Up there now are conversations with Richie Hawtin, Sydney Wayser, Stephen Mason, Kristin Hersh, Mark Kelly, and Steve Lawson. There will be more. I’ve talked to about 30 people and every conversation is great. I am still conducting interviews.

Embracing the Flow

Last spring I wrote a research memo for the Convergence Culture Consortium about dealing with the unfettered flow of content in contemporary entertainment industries. It’s now public and you can download the PDF here.

Here’s a teaser from page one:

One of the most vexing issues facing the content industries is their loss of control over the distribution of digital material. Combined with the ability of consumers and fans to organize and voice opinions more loudly than ever before, many industries, including recording, broadcast, and motion picture, find themselves acting from defensive postures, seeking to shut down grassroots activities and file sharing.

In contrast, some in the industry, particularly (though not exclusively) independent artists, have embraced this unfettered flow of materials and discourse. This C3 research memo (1) briefly identifies the current situation of information and content flow and the kinds of steps being taken to combat it. Against this backdrop, it then (2) identifies the reasons one might choose to embrace these changes rather than fighting them (3) argues that these industries need to consider the role of social exchange in addition to the economic exchange models they are used to in building consumers’ willingness to pay for content they can obtain for free and (4) proposes specific strategies for building social exchange relationships in this environment. In what follows, I use music as an exemplar, but the discussion will not be limited to music.