The Path To Success As A Content Creator: Building Up Your True Fans

from the they'll-pay-for-value dept

Here's a story that follows nicely on our recent post about Trent Reznor quickly selling out his $300 "Ultra-Deluxe" limited edition offering on his new album. As we noted, just because Nine Inch Nails is a recognized act, it doesn't mean that smaller acts can't learn from it as well. Helping to underscore that point is yet another thought piece from Kevin Kelly, talking about the concept of 1000 True Fans. The idea is pretty straight forward: if you want to become a successful content creator, what you really need is 1000 True Fans. In Kelly's estimation, that's the cutoff point where a content creator can make a living. His definition of a True Fan is:
Someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.
That appears to be exactly what Reznor has (though, clearly he has a lot more than 1000 at this point). But Kelly then discusses just what you need to do to build up 1000 True Fans. You need to connect with them directly. That means communicating with them. Having a blog, a social network profile, a Twitter account -- whatever. And then using all of them to really connect with the fans. Give out your early content so more and more people have access to it and are more likely to become True Fans. As Kelly points out, for each of the True Fans will be surrounded by Lesser Fans -- some of whom may purchase goods from you, some of whom may not. Some may become True Fans over time and others may not -- but the more True Fans you have, the more True Fans you're likely to gain over time. There's a network effect here. You build up those True Fans and then you give them reasonable reasons to spend money to support you. It's not about gouging them, but offering them something (scarce) of value that they're perfectly willing to pay for.

It's an excellent framework for any content creator getting started. Certainly, you may not be able to build up enough True Fans if the content isn't good enough (or unique enough, in some cases), but you're certainly unlikely to be able to build up those True Fans from scratch by keeping your content locked up and hoping that someone important "discovers" you and makes you a star.

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  • icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), 5 Mar 2008 @ 8:10am

    Compare with QuidMusic

    QuidMusic is a site that aims to let true fans sponsor their musicians.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    miles, 5 Mar 2008 @ 8:32am

    i agree

    I could not agree more with this post! I wish everone thought this way!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2008 @ 8:58am

    True fans or stalkers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jonathon, 5 Mar 2008 @ 9:55am

      Re:

      Funny, but still a good question? At what point do these "True Fans" become too infatuated and its unhealthy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mikedd (profile), 5 Mar 2008 @ 10:22am

        True Fans?

        Like Jonathon - does this encourage stalkers? Is there formula to convert your stalkers to True Fans?

        Seriously, how many Lesser Fans equal one True Fan? Is there a healthy ratio?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TheDock22, 5 Mar 2008 @ 9:20am

    Nice post

    This is 100% true. And with this model at least startup bands have a chance at trying stuff out to build up their true fans rather than a Recording label dropping them if the 1st cd doesn't sell.

    I know I buy stuff from my favorite band all the time. Tickets, shirts, blankets, all their cds (35 at this point in time I think, although more are coming out).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2008 @ 9:57am

    Just look at the American Idol blog that you love to hate: http://www.votefortheworst.com Hilarious!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alexander Fairley, 5 Mar 2008 @ 10:26am

    This is true, but twitter isn't the way you do it.

    Trent Reznor doesn't have lots of true fans because he spends much time on Twitter or facebook. He has lots of true fans because he composes daring, meaningful music that speaks to people in ways that other artists don't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tape Operator, 13 Dec 2008 @ 11:12pm

    Re: This is true, but twitter isn't the way you do

    Reznor had HOW MANY years of major-label support?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    davidfloat, 24 May 2009 @ 12:08pm

    i suspect rushing to the fiscal aint music appreciation

    "Someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce." regardless of of aesthetic content or dialogic content, i.e. pushing musical boundries?

    "They will drive 200 miles to see you sing." surely this would be to hear you sing?

    "They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat." all are fiscalities that bear no energy towards the beauty music can inspire in human listeners, aprt from maybe the "high res" argument.

    "They can't wait till you issue your next work." eventually something worth saying.

    "s there formula to convert your stalkers to True Fans?" lol. thats funny, even though i reject the idea of "trueness" because its misleading, thats why the article writer above offers us no persuasion compelling us too accept their statement "true fan?"

    alexander - "He has lots of true fans because he composes daring, meaningful music that speaks to people in ways that other artists don't." complete guess work fan gushing because reznor cannot be seen as a daring musician. why? hes mild rock. in the nineties his sequencer work was also considered technically mild and uninventive. his live shows have more to do with the lights he employs to mask the fact that his listeners are a ways from critical. trent reznor is simply a dolla farmer who utilizes safe musicality to build his cash mountain. how do i know this? everywhere across the internet it cannot be denied that reznors publicity surrounds his monitizing success. rarely do we hear his music being critiqued, meaning, the artistic health for him and his fans is being avoided, in order to collect as much cash as possible. we live in a world where musicians who have big cash piles are considered successful for that reason only, which makes me sad. or, please inform me why you like his music so much?

    the term "true fan" is disingenuous at best and wholly misleading at worst because the sentence "They can't wait till you issue your next work" informs us, the "true fan" is not expecting to listen to the work before they decide or decode whether or not they can appreciate it for what it is. "true fan" could be changed to 'gush bucket,' and few concious people could complain about the more accurate nomenclature employed. lol.

    "keeping your content locked up and hoping that someone important "discovers" you and makes you a star." music making is not solely about this. its also about in heavy measure, creating a social network of friends and a space where one can have fun and take risks in the realms of the imaginative aesthetics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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