What's the difference between your friends and your customers? Should they be the same person? Or Not?
Almost three years ago, I was fired from a band via email. It simply stated that the project wasn't going to happen but thanks for my efforts. One week later, I find out that not only was the project still happening, but it was in full gear with someone else replacing me. The frontman, who prior to this was a very good friend of mine, lied to me instead of telling me outright that I wasn't a good fit to the band. I was bothered for a short time, but quickly got over it. But then, he proceeded to invite me to his shows. I find that to be a complete insult to my intelligence. Lie to me and then ask me to pay you money to stand in a dive bar to listen to your music for a half hour? That's not cool. Needless to say, I have not been to any of this group's shows, nor will I ever.
I'm sure many people may not consider this to be a big deal, but personally, the whole thing made me feel like I wasn't a friend, but a customer. And that's where internet marketing can be sort of difficult. How do you market to your friends without making them feel like a customer? Maybe I'm a bit self-conscious but I really don't like pushing my music on my friends. Whenever I record something new, I'll post it once or twice on Facebook and leave it at that. If my friends like it, I'm flattered and have no issue supplying them with more. But I have no intentions of selling my friends my music.
This is why I am a firm believer that your friends should stay your friends and your customers should stay your customers. Yes, they can overlap, but remember that your friends are worth more to you than a few bucks at a concert. Appreciate them more. Don't just say hi to them when you have a new album out. Say hi to them because you like them.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I had more friends ask me to buy their album than wished me a happy holiday. I see where I fit in their grand scheme. I'm a customer to them. And I'm fine with that, as long as they refer to me as a customer, and never as a "friend." Friends don't do that to each other. The key is to remember that your fans (friends and customers alike) should want to hear your product. And if you don't know how to treat these people with the appropriate respect, then they will want nothing to do with you or your music.