Tucker, do you need a finished product to build an audience?

To answer the blog title in a word: No. 

I just finished week four of the Music Success In 9 Weeks challenge. As I mentioned in the first blog post there are about 60 songwriters taking part and quite a few of us are fairly active in a Facebook group supporting each other through all the steps (each step based on a chapter of the book by Ariel Hyatt).  

Today someone backed out because they didn't feel they had a product ready and wanted to take time away and regroup for the next time the challenge came around. I emailed her this letter1:

"Hello:

It's Tucker. From the SAC blogging challenge. 

About a year ago I tried to do some social stuff like a blog and twitter and felt that I needed to step back and actually create a product so I finished a five song EP. I'm really proud of it and I get lots of great feedback from it. I've just recently paid attention again to the website, twitter and I'll be doing some youtube stuff coming up soon. 

What I've realized is that even though I didn't have a 'product', like an EP or album, it really didn't matter. I could have still cultivated an audience through some youtube videos. I could have shared my stories through my blog. I could have talked about travel and heartache and songwriting on twitter. Then when I had an audience that liked my content, that new me as a person and an artist, then I had a built in audience when I did do something more substantial. I also had a group of people who would most likely be willing to pre purchase my album. A group of people who are ready to support me with 20 or 50 dollars each before I even got to the studio. 

The best part is that they are now a part of the story of the creation of the recording. They are excited for you when you post pictures of you in the studio. They are excited when you tell stories of how exciting it is to be finally creating your vision of your songs. They are your external collaborators and cheerleaders.

Once you're done in the studio and you have a CD release party or launch on your website you now have a tribe of people who are excitedly spreading the news of the art that they help create through financial and moral support. When you bring them along on that ride they can't wait for the next ride 'cause they know it'll be bigger and better. 

To summarize my little rant:
I'd rather have an audience and no product than a product and no audience ..."

 

If you agree or disagree with any of the points in the letter please let me know in the comments, I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts. 

 

1This is a social media challenge so I didn't mention live opportunities for audience connection like house concerts or open stages.