Episode #079: Creating Boundaries With Fans — Where To Draw The Line


In this episode Leah and C.J. discuss setting boundaries between you and your fanbase in proactive ways to create a better customer support experience for you and your fans. In other words, setting boundaries is for more than protecting you, your privacy, and your time. It’s about creating a better experience for them too.

As Leah and C. J. touch on their personal experiences, they provide key insights to setting up boundaries, creating customer support techniques, and utilizing guidelines for conversing on social media. 

Customer Service is more than what we think, and it’s so important in the age of social media and digital marketing that you have to get it right from the beginning, and in this episode you’ll learn how!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The new role and accessibility of musicians
  • Separating your personal and business life
  • Different types of boundaries to have
  • The importance of customer service 
  • Handling negative customer behaviors
  • Setting up customer expectations 
  • Professional attitude and mindset
  • Problem solving in the customer service area
  • How to converse on social media
  • Setting up a P.O. Box
  • Setting up business hours


“The battle you have to win every day is the battle of the newsfeed.” – @metalmotivation [0:04:26]

“I’m going to have a personal page that’s for me, my personal profile. I’m going to have a professional page, and that’s where I’m going to post all my music stuff.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:08:17]

“(Customer’s) expectations are incredibly high for response on all platforms at all times.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:010:18]

“If there’s anything really important that you need them to know put it in the receipt email.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:015:55]

“We’re always looking to improve what we’re doing on our end, so I never automatically blame the person” – @LEAHthemusic [0:016:39]

“Put yourself in the shoes of a fan who’s buying something from you.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:18:39]

“I think what’s most important is the change that needs to happen in the artists themselves, to be strong, to learn to be firm, to know that just because this one person is difficult to deal with, is not a reflection on you.” – @metalmotivation [0:21:33]

“Boundaries and dealing with customer service are part of growing your empire.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:28:10]

“I try to treat every interaction as though this is life or death for my business.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:35:49]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Book a Call With Us — http://www.CallSMA.com

Noe Venable (Student Spotlight) — https://www.facebook.com/noevenablemusic/

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show, the premiere music marketing podcast. This is CJ Ortiz on the mindset and branding and friend of Leah and cohost of this show, all of those things for SMA. We all wear several hats, but joined once again by her eminence, Miss Awesomeness, Leah, how you doing?

00:43 Leah: I’m doing just great drinking my coffee here, getting a second wind.

00:48 CJ: That’s right. We batch-record these. We try to get as many of them knocked out as we can when we do these together, and we have some great chats. We just had one, so we’re maintaining energy for-

01:00 Leah: That’s right.

01:01 CJ: … these podcasts, but hope everybody’s getting great value out of them. Again, please, we encourage you to leave a review for us. Pick your favorite player, click some stars if that’s what they offer, and write a review. Helps other people to find it, and we read each and every one of them. We share them, in fact, in our team meetings, so if you want to inspire and motivate us, that’s how you do it. As I always say, being a motivational speaker myself, you want to know how to motivate a motivator, tell him or her how much they motivate you. We’d love to hear from you.

Before we get started into today’s episode, I want to share just a student spotlight. This is from one of our Elite members, Noe Venable, and she writes, “#win, I’m prepped and ready for my first harp pro photoshoot tomorrow,” by that, she means harp, playing the instrument the harp. She says, “What amazes me is how great I feel going into this one, like I know who I am artistically. I know what I want the photos to look and feel like. I’ve got my playlist ready. I’m ready to rock the photoshoot like I would rock a show. This would not have been the case a year ago before I started with SMA. I totally credit the course for holding space for me to dial in the look and feel of my brand so that I feel as good about that as I do about my music. Wish me luck, everyone, and thank you, SMA, xoxoxo.” Those are your xo’s I think, Leah.

02:32 Leah: Oh. I usually sign off with the x’s and o’s.

02:35 CJ: That’s a great testimony, man.

02:38 Leah: Yeah, absolutely. Seeing so much progress from her in our group, and I love it. It’s what keeps me doing all of this is people who take what I’ve put in the curriculum and they run with it. It’s just like, “Okay, I just need to know enough that I can go out there into the universe and do my thing, and all I needed was just the system, this process. I needed the confidence. I need the mindset check. I needed the strategy, and they just run with it. It makes me really proud.

03:15 CJ: Yeah. I mean, without spending too much time talking about her, but she is a great example, a more contemporary one for us because I observed the same things that you do, Leah, about her and what she’s doing. I mentioned her even the other day in our coaching group. I said, “One thing I appreciate about Noe, is that you’re willing to get your hands dirty and learn these things,” but one of the thing that’s interesting about her in specific as it relates to today’s episode, Leah, is that she had a lot of questions and a lot to overcome in relation to who she was allowing into her Facebook group that she attached to her Facebook music business page because she was opening the door to this whole new population of people, and all of these new fans are coming in, and there’s some people who maybe were not a great fit.

She really wanted to protect the culture, and so it brings up the question… in which she overcame all of that and applied the principles that you taught, but it does bring up the point about… because, Leah, so much of this is a social media thing, and I try to tell the students that, is that the battle you have to win every day is the battle of the newsfeed because that’s where people meet you primarily for the first time. They start this journey with you. They go then to your page, and they start following your posts, and they maybe opt in for something, visit your website or something like that.

Well, now they’re getting to know you, and so the dynamic of social media, as you know, means that we’ve got to come out from behind the microphone and be more of a messenger and a leader and interact with our fans and all of these things. Well, that can open up… That’s a blessing because you get to now communicate in a way artists never really were able to do in the past. Record labels can’t do this. But then there’s another side to this, which is having boundaries with fans. I know you’ve experienced this firsthand, which is this topic really came out of your own personal experience, but how do we broach this subject about creating boundaries with fans and drawing the line?

05:23 Leah: Yeah, I mean, I faced a great deal of this over the years, and as we move more and more into an e-commerce type of landscape where this is the norm, it’s no longer the exception, shopping online for physical products is more normal, what I’ve seen happen over the years is people don’t email in, they don’t call a phone number. What they do is basically post anywhere and everywhere, random places, for example, customer service questions, problems, whatever, and they expect to be answered immediately.

I’m addressing it from a customer service perspective, but there’s more to this, but it’s an easy one because I’m dealing with it still currently, and specifically, the fact that I am so accessible and reachable as an artist through social media, especially on Instagram, especially via DMs. I respond to every single DM that I get either by responding to it or actually writing something back, acknowledging that they wrote something to me, saying, “Thank you.” I reply to many comments, but I especially reply to DMs.

Before Instagram was so popular, it was also the same way on Facebook where before there was different security settings and privacy settings and before I really made my profile private, fans would just contact me and want to chit chat or talk or had questions about their order or whatever, a variety of things. I quickly realized that, “Okay, I’m going to have to really make a purposeful decision about what my boundaries are, how I want to run my music business in a way that isn’t going to burn me out, for one.” That set some healthy boundaries here.

First thing I did was I stopped adding fans or potential fans as friends. On your personal profile, you have a limit of 5,000. I can’t remember if there was ever a cap on that when Facebook started, but at some point they put a cap on, 5,000, and around that time, I realized I need to separate my personal from business. Besides, there’s a cap of 5,000, so why would I fill it all up with people who don’t even know me, and besides, I’m posting pictures of my cat and my kids and the funny things they said. It’s kind of a personal private thing. It’s not for them.

So I changed the settings on my profile, so deleted thousands of people. I want to say like 1,000 or 2,000, this was years ago, and made the decision, “I’m going to have a personal page that’s for me, personal profile. I’m going to have a professional page, and that’s where I’m going to post all my music stuff.”

Of course, a lot of people even today use their personal profile for business purposes because they think it gets better reach. Really, I think it’s almost the same as a page. There are people… I mean, I follow probably thousands of pages and groups and people, and there’s only so much space in the newsfeed, and I only spend so much time on there per day, so I’m only seeing a tiny, tiny fraction of things that I signed up to see. It’s the same thing on a page or anywhere else.

That’s the first big thing that I changed was pull the bandaid, rip the bandaid right off, get rid of all the fans that you have accepted on your personal profile. I mean, it’s kind of freaky when you think that if they’re a friend on your profile, they can pretty much have you on speed dial. They can video you, they can call you, they can message you at any time of the day or night, and there’s nothing you can do about that. I mean, I think there’s ways you can mute people. Maybe, but why do that to yourself? At any point you start scaling your music business and becoming more successful, this is not going to… you’re going to regret it really quickly.

That was a smart move for me. Now, even though I’ve done that, I still have to set firm boundaries. My biggest challenge right now with the level that I’m at is the customer service part of it where, yeah, you’re doing a crowdfunding campaign, and people somehow think that if I leave a message if I tweet something on Twitter that I’m going to get a customer service response. I’m like, “I’m not even on Twitter. Why are you asking me about a customer service… The status of your order is on Twitter. That’s not customer service. If you even saw my profile, you see I barely am on there.”

People are… their expectations are incredibly high for response on all platforms at all times, so this is a boundary thing even. I wish there was a blanket way to address that one issue, but there isn’t other than just making it clear, making it known during campaigns, after campaigns, and album launches through email and through organic posts that, “Hey, if you have any questions about your order, send an email here, and be specific. Give the email address.”

That’s the only thing that I can recommend that you do it, and just do it often, and do it even if you think no one needs it because they need to know there’s a place to go if I’m having an issue. I bring this up, and sorry this is a monologue, but… or rant, one of the two-

11:06 CJ: It’s great.

11:07 Leah: … because I really am still dealing with this. I’ve had to be very frank and upfront with certain fans that did not respect my boundaries and the fact that I am accessible and that that’s a privilege, and I don’t have to be that accessible where it was like the status of an order or something went haywire, whatever, and they’re contacting me over and over on a Saturday during my private weekend time with my family, and they’re expecting response right now. If I don’t respond to them, they’re getting more upset kind of a thing. I just… You try to be composed and polite… and I always believe in that, like basically, put a smile on and just realize, “Okay.”

I mean, as an artist, I think I hate dealing with customer service, would probably be like my top things that I don’t like doing, but you ended up having to do it a little bit as even if it’s just, “Hey, our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00 at this email address,” and you put on a smile and you say that and you take care of your fans, even if they are being totally rude, obnoxious, demanding and you know. There’s a way to handle it while also setting your boundary and saying, “These are the hours we operate that we can get back to you, and this is where you can send in your complaint or concern or question.

I hope that helps somebody listening right now because it can be stressful when people expect such an immediate response from you any time of the day. I’m sure you’ve encountered that, CJ, with your Metal Motivation stuff too where just people just assume. Because you’re online, because the internet, you’re awake 24 hours a day, and you never go to sleep, and you should get an answer right now.

12:56 CJ: That’s right. Yeah, I had a guy just recently who was like… It’s so funny because he was just mad about an item that wasn’t included. He had ordered like a shirt, a hat, and then a phone case. Now, of course, as you know, Leah, these are different vendors providing these, so he got the first two items fine, but the phone case was delayed, and so he was very upset about it. He’s just hitting me up on all of these things and finishing with the line, which I haven’t heard since the ’80s, it was, “I’m going to call my lawyer and the Better Business Bureau.”

I’m like, “Really? Do you honestly think that matters?” I had written him back, and I told him all the little idiosyncrasies of all of this, and at the end, I said, “But listen, hey, I mean, you’re still welcome to call your lawyer, you’re still welcome to report to the Better Business Bureau because I know you don’t really mean that,” but what it shows you is that when you’re hearing from these people, it’s primarily emotion. They don’t know how to deal.

It’s like people who have to communicate every emotion they have on Facebook, so they go off and they just whatever they’re feeling. They have… You don’t have to do that, just as a note. You don’t have to go online and express your feelings, but the thing about it is that that is primarily what people are doing is they are venting. If they know that they can possibly upset your applecart or embarrass you or whatever, then they’re going to do that if you don’t have something in place that directs them. If anybody’s observant of a lot of the stuff, your emails or your sales pages or your whatever, there’s a lot of content in there telling people fulfillment time for orders and here’s who to call and you know, that sort of thing.

15:00 Leah: That’s another proactive thing that can really help as far as reducing the need for them to bother you and cross that boundary of contacting you whenever they want to is setting expectations as often and frequently as possible, especially when you’re dealing with the e-commerce side of things. Like you said, on product descriptions, I’m very transparent about shipping times, order processing times, “Hey, your items may arrive separately.” We put that in the product description. We’ll put it in a receipt email. We’ll put it up in a followup email, and yet people still don’t read it. They don’t compute, or somehow they’re not even seeing it.

But it does reduce the number of complaints for sure. If you’re just as upfront and put it in as many places as you know, they’re always going to open a receipt email, so if there’s anything really important that you need them to know like where to contact, what email to use, anything like order times or processing shipping times, if items are going to arrive separately, that is a fantastic place to put it because you always open a receipt email, make sure that you got what you ordered.

There’s a couple other really good things. Oh, I mean, I recently encountered an issue, here’s just another thing, and this has to do with boundaries, but also problem-solving in the customer service area where somebody, a fan, it might have even been the same one, was really upset about something, it was kind of like a delayed thing, like, “I got this thing, but I didn’t get that thing.” Of course, we’re always looking to improve what we’re doing on our end, so I never automatically like blame the person. I go first, “Oh, did we screw up on something? Let’s check.” If we did, we make it right, and if not, and if it ends up the person missed something, like, “Okay, well, clearly we can communicate better,” I still try to take ownership.

Anyway, this person wanted to get on the phone. I do have a customer service phone number, and you can get that through different customer service apps and stuff, so they’re not calling a phone. It’s connected to our ticketing service that we have. Anyway, he ended up calling the wrong number. It was a number we had actually for SMA on a receipt through Stripe, which is a payment processor, and because at the time when I set up the account, originally, I didn’t have my Ex Cathedra phone number, so I just… but you had to put something in there, so I put in the SMA phone number.

He’s like calling SMA and trying to get… He ended up talking to one of our people, and it all ended up working out. They’re like, “Yeah, no, this is SMA and… ” but anyways, but he was like, “I’m so confused, and blah, blah, blah.” Anyway, all I have to say is that that was preventable if I had thought through the fact that where is somebody looking to find that contact information. He went to a different… It wasn’t actually a Shopify receipt. It was a payment processor receipt. If I had turned it off… because they actually don’t need two of them. If I turned that off, that would have solved the problem. He would’ve gone to our website to get the phone number. Instead, he went to the receipt he had with the different phone number.

Again, that problem was preventable if I had done my due diligence and like sifted through those details, but because we didn’t and I didn’t catch it, I got a whole bunch of extra messages about it. The whole moral of the story is do what you can to think through… put yourself in the shoes of a fan who’s buying something from you. Did you make it clear where they can go if they have an issue or a problem or a question? Give them a specific email address that you want them to use.

This’ll go for, if I see something on social media, most of the time, I’m saying, “Hey, please email our support,” and I’ll tell them what it is. It takes an extra 10 seconds for me to type it. Put yourself in the shoes, go through the process, and then if someone is messaging you, emailing you, just tell them what your business hours are, so that means, hey, set some hours. Yeah, you’re not going to hear from us on a Saturday at midnight. No. We even have to set that expectation for customers in SMA, and you’re dealing with people in different time zones where they’re, it can be quite demanding and rude thinking, “I should be getting a response immediately because I’m a customer.”

It’s like, “Well, we have staff with business hours because they’re allowed to have time off and have a weekend with their family and… ” so you’re having to set boundaries. I mean, this is just part of business is setting those boundaries, and if you do get a fan who is disrespectful, rude, not respecting that, I think it’s okay to be forward and frank with them and saying just that that that’s not acceptable and please email. If they just at the end of the day will not respect you, you might have to go as far as deleting them, blocking them, doing what you have to do. It’s a last resort, obviously.

20:12 CJ: Yeah. Yeah, I think-

20:12 Leah: But it happens.

20:15 CJ: Yeah, it certainly does, and I think it extends into the other area where you have to have the boundaries, which is just in the basic interaction with fans on social media because they want to be acknowledged, which is important. You mentioned that you answer all your DMs, and I’m sure that if people comment, you do your best to answer or respond to their comments and what have you.

I think you can get with artists oftentimes is that fear of rejection, that fear of judgment. They don’t want people to not like them. Obviously, they’re doing what they can on social media to get their following and all of that, so the last thing they want to do is upset someone. What that ends up doing is you start placating these people, placating these fans, and suddenly then fans are starting to comment on everything and doing everything to… and just, they’ll take up your whole day with just a conversation over something, and-

21:13 Leah: They’ll use it as an excuse to just chit chat with you, really, if you’re that reachable.

21:19 CJ: Yeah, and I’ll get that with people who will private message me on my own profile or they’ll try to direct message me on the page or what have you, and so you have to take things one by one, but I think what’s most important is the change that needs to happen in the artists themselves, to be strong, to learn to be firm, to know that just because this one person is difficult to deal with, is not a reflection on you.

It’s them. It’s an issue they have, and it’s okay for you to establish these boundaries. They can be very public. Those boundaries can be very public in just the way that you answer. In other words, don’t answer… Learn how to answer in a way that doesn’t create an open loop. Just because they say, “Hey, how are you? Have a great day,” don’t answer back by saying, “My day’s great. Tell me what you did.” Don’t keep this loop going, everything in a way that tries to close a conversation while being polite because you just, you can’t-

22:22 Leah: Yeah. That’s really good. That’s a really good tip actually because the way you answer somebody could just keep it going and going. If you answer somebody with a question, well, you might just get sucked in for the next hour or two. I think knowing, especially if you’re in DMs and stuff, if people say something, just say, “Thank you, means a lot,” or something like that and move on. It’s just like a statement. I answer a lot of things with statements, and very rarely will I open the loop for more conversation. Even though if someone continues, I’ll acknowledge them by double tapping their message, sending them a little heart back or something, saying, “I saw you. I acknowledge you.”

It does something for their dopamine loop, actually, if you acknowledge somebody. I read somewhere that, on social media anyways and the reason why we’re all addicted to social media is because of dopamine. It’s this little pleasure chemical in your brain, so when you get these little dings and notifications, when you open it up and see there’s somebody’s messaged you, it makes you… There’s a little sensor in your brain saying, “I’m important.”

When someone leaves a message or a comment or a DM with you and you acknowledge them back, especially if you comment back, it actually closes that dopamine loop, and it’s not closed unless it’s acknowledged. If you can do that, it will keep them coming back and keep them very loyal. There’s good reason to respond to people.

I am lucky in that I haven’t had anything too weird going on as far as like weird stalkers or anything. I haven’t had much of that, but it happens as well. There’s other safety things you want to keep in mind in terms of boundaries, like don’t put your phone number somewhere on the internet, don’t put your address somewhere on the internet. If you’re using an email service provider, use a P.O. Box because you have to, by law, display an address. Use a PO box. Don’t put your personal email. I think I said that already.

It may be useful, if you do get a lot of questions about orders and products and stuff like that, it may be useful in your Instagram bio to say what your business hours are, where they can find out more information if they have questions, and send them to your website, to a contact form, with specifics of, “Hey, my business hours,” or, “Our business hours are between Monday and Friday noon to 4:00 or something,” so they have expectation of when they can hear back from you on something. Just doing those few things can really cut down on people bombarding you inappropriately or just taking advantage of the fact that you are online and you’re accessible and reachable.

25:08 CJ: Yeah, I mean, I talk a lot about… I’ll use the example of defensive driving, which is when people take a course and drive, they’ll often take the course Defensive Driving. Why would you take defensive driving? Because you’re out there with other people who are behind the wheel of a 10,000 pound piece of steel.

You want to be on the defensive because they’re going to make bad decisions. They’re not going to be paying attention or whatever. But sometimes it comes down to the way your fans perceive you because of social media. For example, I get, because of the motivational thing, I get people asking me, “What’s your remedy for post-traumatic stress disorder?” I’m like, “You’re asking a guy who calls himself the Metal Motivator on Facebook to answer the PTSD question?” or that people with, I mean, serious therapeutic psychiatric issues and they’re talking to me about it, and I said, “Listen, guys, I’m just a motivational speaker.” Why… I’m talking to… or I’ll say something, like I said one day, “Attitude determines how long it takes to, quote-unquote, ‘get over it.'” Someone went off about that because, “What about this and this” and then some horror story.

I’m like, “You have to understand that if I get on here and I start talking about, for example, budgeting finances, I’m obviously not talking to an audience in the third world, so don’t bring them up.” I can’t die the death of a thousand qualifications, but because you’re out there and you’re this accessible, people perceive you a certain way, and so they’re just going to message you.

I had a guy messaged me a couple of days ago. He DM’d me on Instagram. All he said was… I don’t know who he is. There’s not even his face. It was some other just image for his profile picture. But he just said, “I need some advice.” That’s it. He didn’t say what he needed… Nothing, so I just wrote back, “Don’t marry her.” Your approach determines my response. You know what I mean? If you’re going to come at me like that, it’s just like, “Hey,” and it might be a serious thing going on on his end, but if you’re going to approach me like that and you’re going to know firsthand…

I’m not saying everybody needs to do it my way, but I’m just saying once you’ve done this for a long time, I want you… that’s my point is that you’re going to get used to that. You’re going to get tough skin. You’re not going to feel so bad about everybody’s feelings that you were a little too short with them or you had to be more direct in your… Don’t worry about that. It’s going to be rough getting started, but do it because it’s going to save you a ton of heartache down the road. Some of the things that Leah said, having these things completely spelled out on your sales pages and what numbers you feature, don’t feature your personal stuff, but again, that first line of defense is going to be when you are literally interacting with people, and know that you’re protecting your empire.

28:04 Leah: Absolutely. I wanted to also bring up on the topic of boundaries and dealing with customer service is part of growing your empire. You may be a one-man band and you’re dealing with it all yourself, or maybe you handle it as a band or maybe you are designating the customer service part of it to a spouse or a part-time person eventually. I just want you guys to all know that I too get extremely rude messages from fans from time to time. I have a couple of examples sitting here in front of me I had to pull up.

This is a post. Here’s a post. I put a screenshot in our Elite group, and I said… This is back from August, I said, “Let’s keep it real, folks. Today, I hit $50,000 in pre-orders. What people don’t see is that I also get to deal with lovely messages like these. It just comes with the territory. I send a lot of emails during a campaign. This poor fellow wants out of the car, so we’ll let him out.”

This was somebody who was really upset and was still sending emails and didn’t just unsubscribe. They want you to unsubscribe them. They’re so upset that “I’m not even going to unsubscribe myself. I’m going to make you do it, and I’m going to tell you how upset I am.” This person said, “I want to unsubscribe. I’ve done it, but I still get messages,” and then in all caps, all caps, so now he’s yelling, “I don’t effing care about… F-off,” with lots of exclamation marks and lots of all caps.

I mean, it made me laugh. I said, “Oh.” Let me tell you what my response was because I think it’s a good thing. Oh, so I posted my response to him in a screenshot, and I said, “I’m so sorry the unsubscribe button didn’t work for you. I’ll have my team take care of it. Lots of love, Leah.” This, you might think, “Well, why don’t you just tell him to F-off back or something?” It’s like because when you’re in business and you’re starting to make money, you have to take the higher road. You need to tell people that you are heard, and like you said, they’re just venting, and they want attention, and they’re looking for a certain response. They’re trying to upset you.

I mean, this guy is yelling at me in all caps, “I really want to unsubscribe, but I’m still getting messages I don’t care about, F you,” and all that. He’s trying to get a rise out of me, and I’m not going to give it to him. I’m going to be polite. What’s that that saying about heaping hot coals on someone’s head? How’s it go?

30:44 CJ: By doing something good for them, you’re heaping hot coals on their head, which we would say it would be like pouring water on their fire. It’s basically the same sort of effect. You neutralize their angst.

30:56 Leah: Yeah, being by being kind and polite and professional back to him, I am virtually completely disarming him, taking away all his ammunition. Another person a little more recently… Actually, I thought this was quite funny. They were begging me to unsubscribe them she said, “For her own sanity.” Basically she was saying, “I’m getting anxiety because your subject lines are so compelling,”-

31:27 CJ: Yeah.

31:27 Leah: … “I have to open your emails, and I can’t stop myself from opening your emails, and it’s causing me anxiety because you use subject lines like ‘we need to talk’ or ‘I have some bad news,'” things like that that basically I’m doing a really good job marketing because she can’t stop opening my emails and it’s causing her… I got a whole email about it, “And I really need you to unsubscribe me even though,”-

31:48 CJ: That’s funny.

31:48 Leah: … “my unsubscribe button is in the footer.” I thought that was hilarious. I sent it to my marketing manager, and he’s like… He just totally chuckled. He’s like, “That means you’re doing it right if someone can’t help but open them,” but just so you know, this comes with the territory, you guys. You need to step it up. Be professional. Don’t give them what they’re looking for. Heap coals on their head or pour water on their fire. You are going to maintain your dignity, retain your respect for yourself. You reply with a polite and kind answer, and just keep in mind, because people screenshot stuff and post them in forms and do weird things like that too, what you write and how you respond to people, it kind of lasts forever.

I also think it’s a good thing to keep in mind to maintain that professional posture at all times so you can never be accused of anything crazy or weird. You can always say… and this actually happened a couple of years back. I think some guy… I think when I launched a crowdfunding campaign, some person, I think last year was like, “Oh, I… ” something about the way I treat my fans. I’m like, “What on earth are you talking about, the way I treat my fans? I go the extra mile to treat my fans as good as I possibly could without inviting them to my house. What do you mean?”

“I remember talking to you about something or other,” and just incredibly accusatory of something. I don’t know what he was talking about. He mentioned something about how I had responded to him. I went back into my messages. I actually looked him up in Facebook Messenger on my page, found the conversation, screenshotted it, sent him back to it, said, “Oh, you mean this conversation?” and I don’t know, he was going on about something upset about something, and I maintained my posture. I maintain my politeness. I even offered to go the extra mile for him in that conversation. I was actually really proud of my response, and he said, “Oh. Okay. I guess I was wrong. Sorry.”

But I mean, he made a big stink about it, and he was really vocal about it. Then as soon as I had the proof to show him, “Hey, actually, I was really kind to you,” he pretty much went away with his tail between his legs. That’s why you want to maintain that. You have to take the higher road and just know that you are going to get rude fans. It’s kind of crazy to think… It’s like I’m just making music people, like seriously, but they’re out there.

34:23 CJ: Yeah. If you’re not a skilled debater, it’s certainly better to take the high road. There’ll be occasions where I will just because-

34:33 Leah: Well, you’re on a different level there. You do it for amusement, but-

34:38 CJ: Yeah, I do it for fun, but it’s like shooting fish in a barrel because I was debating on forums and things long before social media ever began, so for them, it’s something new, for me, it’s… but sometimes, it’s just like they catch you on that kind of day, but in general, I think, you always want to take the high road.

I mean, I would never do anything mean to somebody. I would just… It would lead more to their embarrassment just because they’re not necessarily prepared for that type of exchange, but other than that, there’s never a reason to be rude or name calling or anything like that. But, again, if you’re dealing with a fan, somebody who wants to spend money with you and that sort of stuff, that’s a business. Now you’re business type.

35:39 Leah: Well, and that’s why I handle it the way I do because it’s not like I’m just an artist out there with… and I’m not selling anything, and I’m just like, “This is personal interaction.” No, I treated it like a business. I try to treat every interaction as though this is life or death for my business. Customer service is a huge, huge part of success for any business. One thing I learned is if let’s say there’s two identical products out there, the one that has amazing customer service people will leave the other one and just go to the one with good customer service because it matters so much more for their experience.

In fact, the other product could be superior, and if you have better customer service, they will leave whatever… They don’t have no loyalty over there. They’ll go where they’re treated well, where they’re feeling respected, they feel heard. That’s why I built SMA with the team that we have and… Well, my team has built. I feel like it’s very democratic over here. We built it together. The systems and processes that we’ve developed have come out of responding to needs and hearing people and what they need and how they can feel best supported. That’s why I think it’s second to none.

36:52 CJ: Awesome. Leah, thank you. Set boundaries, guys, boundaries, because you’re now in the public space, and that’s a part of this wonderful opportunity that we have, but like I said, there’s another side to all of this, but being proactive in all of these things are great remedies and will go a much, much long way. We’re obviously giving specific examples of problematic people. You just know that you’re going to get it. Don’t take it personally. This is part of you growing as a business owner, so good things are ahead for you. Please do us, again, a favor, and leave a review for this podcast. We’re so excited about what’s coming for all of you in the new year, and so join us online as well. Leave us some comments, questions, some things you’d like for us to cover. We’d love to hear from you.

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.