“The market needs you, we need you and the tools are there, just waiting. All that’s missing is you and your vision and your passion”-Seth Godin, Tribes

One of my biggest failures came in the fall of 2007. It was a lesson that I will never forget. I was commissioned to create a performance piece for Dixon Place in New York City. This of course was not the failure. This was actually a great success in my career. The failure came during the run of this commissioned show. The show was called Sum Of Us and it was a collaboration between myself and a NYC band called Inner Princess. We had nine performances of our original gender bending creation and I think we had an average of 10 people at each performance. The small lower east side performance space sat 50 people. What I learned from that experience is: In order to fully thrive as an independent performing artist (IPA) we must build and nurture our own audience.

This post will focus on the #1 way to thrive as an independent artist and that is BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE, which is one-third of what I’m calling THE FOUNDATION. THE FOUNDATION is a set of business skills that every thriving IPA should practice. In my last post I focused on PERSONAL BRANDING and my next post will focus on your DREAM SCHEME. I believe that if we begin to embrace a few tools of the entrepreneur like this one, we can create thriving careers for ourselves.

What I know now is that as independent performing artists we must continue to build an audience outside of our performances and they must have the potential to follow us anywhere. Back in 2007 at Dixon Place, my mistake was that I thought that Dixon Place would pack the house for us. I was under the impression that they would provide an audience that would show up to see our show. I was wrong. People go see artists that they know, follow and love. As independent performing artists, who want to thrive, we have to build and maintain relationships with the people who will support us. Not only do we have to build our audience but we also should stay in contact with them. We have to treat them like our best friends. Shout outs every now and again are important.

We also need to think outside of our bubbles. What I mean is we need to think nationally and internationally. Imagine if you get the opportunity to perform outside of your city, state or country. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you had a following that you could invite to a live performance no matter where in the world you perform? This is the level of thinking that we need to have to become thriving artists! Build an audience all over the world. This is the profile of a thriving independent performing artist.

Your Facebook account packed with” friends” is not enough. You may think that your one billion friends on Facebook is all that you need to reach your audience, but the truth is that you do not own your list on Facebook or any other social media site.

The fact is that social media sites own all of those contacts and if they decide to change the rules about how you can communicate to your fans and friends, there is not a thing that you can do about it. I’m not saying that you should not use these sites to your full advantage as an artist. What I am saying is BUILD AND NURTURE YOUR OWN EMAIL LIST. An email list is yours to control.

Now, this is where the hard work begins. This is the stuff that no one wants to do. Building an audience that really follows you is hard and takes dedication. It’s grunt work and it separates the thriving from the barely surviving.

Building an audience takes time and patience. If you use the right tools and you are creative you can get a snowball effect that builds your own engaged audience for the long-term. This is not about just getting a million “likes”, this is about building an engaged community of people who will support you and your work for many years to come.

I have created a list of 10 AUDIENCE BUILDING STRATEGIES that all thriving artist use to create a following outside of their performances. Some of these strategies I have been using for years and some I have just discovered. I am now using most of these strategies to grow my email list and the results have been mind-blowing.

I’ve created a BONUS page full of strategies and resources that you can start exploring today and it is reserved for subscribers to this blog. I will always share valuable info with you here, but I will also share some BONUS material for those who really want it. You can subscribe right here on this page. I respect your privacy and will never share your email with anyone else.

Thank you subscribers! You give me motivation and energy. I really appreciate it. If for some reason you didn’t get the BONUS page password in your email, just shoot me an email and I’ll send it to you. Thanks again!

If you have not subscribed yet and are interested in 10 AUDIENCE BUILDING STRATEGIES that you can start using now, join me in becoming a thriving artist by subscribing. You will get the password to the BONUS page on your subscription confirmation page. Once you enter the password on the BONUS page, which you can find on the menu bar, you will never have to enter it again when you return to this blog. This means you will always have access to all bonus material in the future.


Meanwhile, if you want to read a life changing book about the importance of building your audience, pick upTribes: We Need You to Lead Usby Seth Godin. You can also find it at The Survival Market, a book store I specifically designed for performing artists or any independent artists who want to thrive. There are many other titles there to explore, so go get ’em!

Please help me spread the word by SHARING this post on your favorite social media site. Like if you like. Also feel free to comment or email me always at I welcome whatever you have to say.

Written by Michelle Matlock - Visit WebsiteDigiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Michelle Nicole Matlock


  1. Hi! I have read your blog posts, and I totally agree with almost everything you wrote. I have been trying out and practicing several different techniques of attracting more work and more money, over the past couple of years, and it worked every time. I found that a major problem with this is being lazy at times to concentrate on my goals, or not being concentrated enough, but every time I invested energy into visualizing my actual goals, nice things would happen. This is how I got to work on cruise ships as a headliner, this is how I got many highly paid corporate gigs, this is how I traveled around the world and seen some great places…
    Now regarding audience-building, I agree that your strategy of having an audience that follows you wherever you perform would work in most cases. Now, one specific thing about my profession is that I am a magician/illusionist. With magic/illusion shows the golden rule is – you don’t want the repeated audience on your shows. This is the golden rule of magic (don’t do the same trick to the same audience twice, otherwise they might be able to find out how it’s done). And this is the hard part of our job… Despite the fact that there are many different marketing theories for magicians out there, and several dozens of books covering this topic, my personal experience led me to the conclusion that for the shows in which I have to build my audience, and that would, in most cases, be touring with my show (as opposed to the shows in which the Client is the one who is in charge of building my audience, such as cruise lines, theme parks, and basically all bookings that I get through Agents), I have only managed to succeed using the most traditional methods, which is posters, TV and radio commercials and appearances in different media and occasional publicity stunts (facebook events as well, but due to the new FB rules by which you can’t invite people you don’t know personally, even if they are the fans of your FB page), but even when I had very big campaigns, some times it would happen that there would be many people attending my shows, and sometimes not. I’d be grateful if you had any hint of how I could build a big audience for my shows, the audience being different people every time….

    1. Hi George! Thanks for engaging on the site and congrats on building what looks like a thriving career. I love that you used the words concentration and visualization. Those are both powerful tools in fighting our biggest enemies which are resistance and procrastination.

      I’m curious, how do you control if an audience member comes back to see your show? This is a very peculiar situation to be in.

      As far as building a new audience:

      1. Ask your fans and friends to share your posts and events on Facebook. Make it a real call to action for the people that already know you. Ask and you shall recieve. If more people share, more people see your posts and this could lead to more fans and more friends to invite.

      2. What about other social media? Are you on twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin? If not, There are lot’s of new folks waiting to discover you there. Oh, and Google Plus is gonna replace Facebook, so start building there too. Video clips or promo videos on Youtube or Vimeo can also be great ways to build a new audience.

      3. Here’s the deal many of these social media sites are headed towards charging money to have a significant reach. We still need to use them in every way that we can, but we need to be driving people back to our own land. What I’m talking about is your own website and email capture. Do you have an email service provider? If not you should get one. If you have an email service provider, when people sign up for your email list you can ask them on the form if they have ever been to your show before. Your email service provide will automatically separate old and new audience members. You can even group folks by zip code. This way your new audience members will be on a separate list and you can email them directly about new shows when you are in their area. This will also allow you to keep in contact, so that you know when folks come see your shows.

      4. Let’s face it, to really thrive as artists we need to be thinking about multiple streams of income and ways to make money while we are sleeping. Just think how important your growing email list of old and new audience members will be if one day you decide to self publish a book about your life as a magician or produce a DVD of some of your work. Anything is possible!

      Well, I hope these hints give you some ideas about building your audience. Please let me know what you think. I’m also sending you an email, so check it out.

  2. Great stuff from your, thank. I have read your stuff before and you are just too awesome. I love what you have got here, love what you are saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I can not wait to read more from you. This is really a great blog. Thank

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