June 20, 2011

Are you on stage for you or for them?

On one of the current performance competition shows (I don't even know what it's called...), judge Sharon Osbourne asked a group of contestants:

"What do you want to get from this show?"

The young leader of the group answered, "To perform in places like this... To just give people a chance to know who we are."

I cringed. My first thought, "Wrong answer."

Sure, I get that she wants exposure, and that to be on a show like this one can give her that. People will recognize her on the street, at least. But exposure is only one aspect of a performing (or speaking) career. Exposure means nothing if the audience means nothing to you. It's not all about "getting."

What I would have liked to hear her say: "I want to give the audience a great show!" Hint: The audience likes to hear you talk about us. We like to know that you care about us. We like to know you value us.

One reason Lady Gaga has catapulted so dramatically to superstar status is her relationship with her fans. She truly appreciates, interacts with and loves her "monsters." On a recent episode of Graham Norton, where Lady Gaga was a guest, an audience member delivered a box of handmade miniatures of Lady Gaga's iconic costumes. Lady Gaga was so moved that she invited the audience member to come onstage for a hug and kiss.

Lady Gaga understands it's not about people "getting a chance to know who she is." It's about Lady Gaga getting to know who her audience is, building a community with them, and giving them what they want: a relationship.

Any performer can be passionate about their message. Any performer can stand out from the crowd. But a performer who says, "It's not all about me" is the one who will have the most loyal fans, the most repeat business, and the most enduring success.

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