Social Media Boundaries for the Artist and Fan
With the use of social media networks, artists have a whole new world to tap into and a means of developing their business by launching an online fan base. This is a very cool world that generates potential success for artists but it also hosts many possible dangers. I have run into many issues with social media in the music business and it also has affected my life personally because of it I have noticed that some of the social interactions found on these networks can cause real harm in the lives of artists, affecting their personal relationships. Although my job is to help artists achieve their dreams, it is now appropriate to protect their personal lives –and even defend those they love–from poor networking decisions and the occasional disruptive fan(s).
When an artist develops a fan page, the concept is to get people to interact with them on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms of their choice. If the artist is an attractive one, they are obviously going to stir a lot of attention. Some of the feedback can be positive, encouraging, and innocent; on other occasions it can be rude, unwelcome, improper — even childish at times. These situations create not only a conflict between the artist and the fan, but also potential issues affecting the spouse or significant other of the artist.
Not everyone will agree with me on this blog and that is ok, but I feel I have a considerable amount of experience in this subject. I want to correct the misconception as follows: Many people believe an artist has to keep his personal life private if married or involved with another person, in order to keep the mystery out there. Some think that when you are a “rock star” you get to live by different standards when it comes to flirting, online interactions, or live performance behavior. The idea is that it is always important to have an air of availability to keep people attracted and interested in you. You feel you should not offend anybody because you cannot afford to lose fans, or ticket and merchandise sales. These are the circumstances in which an artist allows inappropriate conduct via social media. The things that would not be tolerated in every day, real life.
I feel we should never act any different online than we do in public with our spouses or significant others there. If you made a decision to be in a relationship, honor that decision. There is no job in the world that allows you to treat others without consideration for their feelings. If you are in an entertainment career, these situations need to be discussed with each other and decisions need to be made on how to handle it. Hopefully both people can get on the same page and work it out.
We can interact with, and respond to people who are maybe a little too flirtatious in a professional manner and let them know we appreciate their interest in our music or careers rather than resort to flirting with them in return or getting ourselves into trouble. If you have a more open relationship with your partner and they don’t mind innocent flirting that is up to you, but just remember that this type of relationship doesn’t usually last forever. As an artist you should always protect yourself from the people with no moral boundaries in order to protect your personal relationships. It is completely amazing how many people send sexual or flirtatious advances to attached artists and this from both male and female fans, equally. Many of the people sending these inappropriate messages are married or involved themselves. This is wrong on so many levels I can’t even begin to explain. If you are an artist who receives these types of messages and that would probably be most of us, then politely thank them for their comments but also tell them to be respectful of your relationship and you would be more than happy to interact with them appropriately. Trust me you will earn more respect this way, not only from your fans but also from your partner.
I have been in relationships with artists that let people flirt with them. It is never easy to watch people hit on the ones you love. I watched my partner let the conversation continue even after they confronted the person about their behavior. Instead of simply blocking the person who wouldn’t stop, that one fan or CD sale was more important than my feelings. This person was even spreading lies about me to my partner and many others and my partner still kept interacting with him because the fan was nice to them and bought her CD and she didn’t want to hurt their feelings. No matter how I felt about the constant flirting with her and her not dealing with it appropriately, it wasn’t worth it to her to deal with it in the right way and put me first. You as the artist need to decide which is more important, your career (which for most of the artists reading this really doesn’t exist yet), the fan who will never be there for you, or the one who loves you and gives everything they have to you.
When dealing with your “fans” just let me say that unless they are buying your merchandise, tickets and so forth, they are not keeping you in a career. Even if they purchase your $15.00 CD, you don’t have to put up with inappropriate behavior. You can’t be afraid to lose a fan over inappropriate conduct. For every fan you lose you will gain 100 more.
For the fans who read this, if you know the artist is married or in a relationship and you cross those boundaries, shame on you. I am pretty sure I would know how you would feel if your partner was doing the same thing to you. Grow up and act appropriately. As a fan of the artist, I would hope you would only want the best for them and to truly support them. Don’t risk someone else’s relationship for your need to flirt with someone else’s partner. That is completely disrespectful and pathetic.
Artists: use social media for its strengths but don’t get caught up in the games or risk your relationships for someone you don’t even know. Make smart decisions, be respectful to your partners and let your music do the talking. It should be more than enough to win over your fans without the need for inappropriate behavior.