Here’s an extract from Katie Ferrara’s book, Stories from the Street; Busking Adventures from the diary of Katie Ferrara. As we’ve written before, aside from Katie’s phenomenal talent (which we got to hear firsthand at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival), she’s also waaay ahead of the game when it comes to employing 21st Century tools to further her career – social media, live streaming, email signup lists, merchandise and more.

We can all learn from her – not least how to deal with random, unwanted attention from assholes in the street…

(Pre-order Stories from the Street by Katie Ferrara here)

Katie Ferrara, author of "Stories from the Street"

I like knowing my fans are watching me on Periscope because it provides a sense of safety when traveling and working alone. Also, once people on the street see they are being filmed, they are less likely to cause me problems. Or so I thought. On this day, the only issues I had were with three men who found any excuse to try to chat with me.

The first man came up and asked me to play “Stairway to Heaven.” I declined, only because I didn’t want to play it. But he insisted, telling me that all I had to do was look up the chords on YouTube. Then he asked, “You do know how to look up YouTube videos, don’t you?” His tone made me angry because he sounded like he was talking down to me. He was “mansplaining.”

A lot of men do this when they see a female musician. They automatically assume you can’t play guitar or don’t know how to use any of your equipment. They think they know more than you, and you need their help to sound good. It puts added pressure on women when working in a field dominated by male musicians. One feels pressed to prove this stereotype is untrue to gain any level of respect. In this instance, I just told the guy to leave me alone.

A second man came by to chat with me. He first asked if I would give his son guitar lessons. He then asked where I live and if he could go to my home. Finally, he asked for my card. Well, I’ve long ago learned not to give out my phone number, email, or address because men simply want to hit on me. They see me as an invitation to ask for a date. This time I directed him to my website where he would find a contact form. I just didn’t trust the guy because he was too eager. Anyway, most people who say they will email me never do and are only looking to take up my work time with conversation.

The third man who approached me that day upset me the most because he invaded my personal space. He started filming me without permission while I was playing. He went behind the microphone, walked around me with his phone about three inches away from my face, and made me fearful that he was going to touch me. This experience forced me to realize that in public, people have no respect for boundaries unless they are clearly defined. Too many men think it’s OK to get close to a woman without her permission. What threw me over the edge this time was when he touched my microphone. He smelled of beer or some sort of alcohol. I told him that he was making me feel uncomfortable, and he left.

Despite the negative experiences with those three men, I did well at the market and managed to collect more email addresses. I learned that sometimes it takes baby steps to learn how to build your fan base. Get to know the people who buy your music. It’s not about the numbers—it’s about the relationships. Soon after you get someone’s email, don’t just add it to your mailing list. Send a personal message to thank the fan for wanting for staying in contact. Then add him or her to your newsletter. You need to follow up right away.

My last memory of the farmer’s market that day was back in the parking garage. My friend “Mr. H” helped me load my gear into my car. He also played a song for me by an artist called Lily Allen. Every single lyric was spot-on in her song, “Hard out Here.” Sometimes you’ve just got to be a Bitch!


Pre-order Stories from the Street by Katie Ferrara here

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