This video really moved me, it is of two of my favorite singers performing together in Ireland. On the left is Bruce Springsteen, and on the right is Glen Hansard:
Look at Glen’s face at minute 7, he is clearly is total heaven in this moment, performing with his idol.
What Bruce and Glen have in common is the road-warrior mentality – they are always in front of fans, always on the road. They are doing more than selling tickets, they are delivering an experience.
There is no “producer” and “consumer” here – the fans are an inherent part of the music. When I wait 12 hours on pavement to see one of Bruce’s shows, I feel a part of it in a way that isn’t just consumption, I am a part of something. Clearly, I DO NOT create the music in doing such a thing. But I am apart of a new experience created around the music.
As I have said, you do not have to write TO an audience, but knowing them is good. Glen and Bruce are notorious for serving their fans. At 63, Bruce still performs night after night with an energy that few can match at any age. Glen has embarked on his own endless tour of his own, and makes a point to meet fans outside the venue before and after most shows. I’ve met him many times.
This is why I never liked the idea of consider a reader of a book (or a fan of a singer) as a passive aspect of the creative process. Their role is so much more than to simply pay $15 for a book, or $80 for a concert ticket.
The work itself (the book or song) is alive. Evolving. In the minds of those who read the book, in their experience of talking about it with friends, in how the work itself shapes their actions in life.
This is really what an author’s platform is, and the true effect of a book. Not a “bestseller list,” and not “Twitter followers.”
Many think that success involves a great divide. The creator on one side – elevated – and the fans on the other. But as long-time success stories show, there is no divide. There is deep engagement and involvement, and those who experience the work of art are a core part of what it creates in the world. How they amplify it, what they create around it, and yes, how they engage with the author of that work.
Rolling Stone shared a great article this week on the 50 greatest live acts right now. I love seeing how each artist and set of fans is in many ways so different from each other, and in other ways, exhibiting the same process.
What experience are you creating for your readers that goes beyond the book itself?