Have you heard of the '1000 True Fans' concept? Maybe you don't need as many fans as you think to make a good living from your music!!
It's easy to get wrapped up in chasing numbers - the number of likes you get on social media, the number of streams on Spotify, the number of followers you have....but what if you only really need 1000 TRUE fans?! Maybe it's time to reconsider the all or nothing thinking that suggests you either starve as an artist or achieve mega fame....what if there is something awesome in between?
A True Fan is not the same as a follower, or even a regular fan - a True Fan will buy pretty much anything you create - think about bands you've been really into yourself - you buy the music, even then buy the same music as a limited edition, a rare white label, a signed vinyl even though you don't own a record player, a live CD version, the t-shirts, signed merchandise... you don't just go to just one gig, you travel all over the place to see them, you subscribe to all their social media, pre-save their material before they have even heard it....1000 True Fans can easily spend money on your material which would give you a profit of £100 per fan per year. Do the maths....that's £100,000 per year !
True fans are also your best marketing tool - they love you so much they are happy to tell lots of people about you, share your social media posts, wear your t-shirts and spread the word about you and your amazing music.
Not that long ago, musicians were not accessible to their fans - you barely even got to hear of musicians who weren't signed to some kind of label. Fans wanting to connect with their favourite artists would write to their record labels, and probably never get a reply, they would buy fanzines and read about them in the press and could only buy music from record shops or at gigs. Now it's very different and an advantage to up and coming artists who can build relationships with their fan base, talk directly to them via social media, (via your own social media, other people's blogs and online music supporters) easily send out teaser material or quick videos of rehearsals or gigs. Consider selling things direct so you keep more of the revenue and create that community of True Fans who will appreciate buying straight from the artist. If you give less of your revenue to middlemen then you actually need to sell less to make the same amount. Get your own website as hub for all your content, online links, contacts, press packs, shop and perhaps some behind the scenes insights or exclusive content for subscribers.
Maybe all this connecting with True Fans isn't your bag, so maybe consider getting someone you know to do this for you! And then there's crowdfunding, which can be a great way to raise finance for your new project if you have your True Fans connected to you.
Wired editor Kevin Kelly wrote about this concept back in 2008 - You can buy Kevin Kelly's kindle book about 1000 True Fans here, just £1.99
Here's a short animated video explaining the 1000 True Fans concept:
So maybe chasing the numbers isn't the best way forward.....nurturing a small and devoted fan base by building relationships with them, online and offline, getting them invested in you and your music will pay off for you and for them in the long term. And along the way, you'll scoop up loads of regular fans too, bringing you greater success, artistically and financially. It takes work, but it's worth it!