RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A 22-year-old musician has discovered an innovative way to connect with her fans.
LAUREN SANDERSON: My name is Lauren Sanderson, and I write letters.
MARTIN: Yep, old-fashioned letters sent through the mail. This struck NPR's Neda Ulaby as a highly inefficient way to build a fan base. So Neda visited Sanderson at her Hollywood apartment to learn more.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Lauren Sanderson, who has never known life without email, handwrites letters to fans on a wooden desk from Goodwill.
SANDERSON: I've always been a letter person.
ULABY: And she says she spends lots of time writing letters.
SANDERSON: Fifteen to 20 a week.
ULABY: This snail mail strategy seems to be working. Sanderson just signed with a major label. Last year, she sold out an 18-city tour. Using pen and paper is also how the singer writes her songs.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DEAR UNIVERSE")
SANDERSON: (Singing) Dear universe, let me tell you about my day. Nothing's working, swear it's not. That's what you'll say. My life's...
ULABY: Sanderson's charted on Billboard and on iTunes. She says much of the mail she gets is from kids like her who are gay or queer but who struggle with their identities. Sometimes she's the first person they'll have the courage to tell.
She pulls a handful of correspondence from her kitchen cupboard.
SANDERSON: Here's Illinois, Indiana. Here's Virginia.
ULABY: So, what's your issue with immediate gratification?
SANDERSON: You mean, like, when people just DM or message? I don't think I have a problem with it. I just think it makes it more personal.
ULABY: The very tangibility of letters, says Sanderson, conveys something meaningful.
SANDERSON: Your words are special. Your feelings matter.
ULABY: If Sanderson makes it big, she swears she'll keep writing to fans the same way she does now, with a thick, black Sharpie on plain computer paper. We'll just have to stay posted. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
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