Module 1: The 1,000 True Fan Theory Explained
Today we’re talking about the 1,000 True Fan Theory and how it can be used to build a sustainable music career.
Okay, so why are we talking about the 1,000 True Fan Theory? Well, the reason why we’re talking about it is that when you follow the 1,000 True Fan Theory…it allows you to focus on what matters which is getting fans.
It allows you to keep track of your progress and because you’re tracking your progress…you’re way more likely to be able to succeed because you’re going to see what’s working and be able to do more of it and less of what’s not working.
And all of this adds up to enabling you to be able to have a full time music career, even if you’re not world famous. Because you’re going to be building a direct connection or, a “direct-to-fan” type business without having…without needing to have a record label between you and your audience.
What is the 1,000 True Fan Theory?
Well, this is a concept that was published several years ago by a man by the name of Kevin Kelly. The guiding principle behind it is that if you have 1,000 fans who are willing to pay up to $100 per year…then that would equate to a six-figure income as a musician.
So that’s the premise that you don’t have to be world famous, you only need 1,000 fans and you can make a six-figure income…you don’t have to starve as an artist.
So how does the 1,000 True Fan Theory work?
Well first of all, you have to create kick ass music – there’s no way around it. You can’t just be terrible . You have to have some talent and you have to be able to promote what you do to your audience.
In terms of the internet, this means that you’re going to be sending people to your website and when you’re doing that it just gives you more data and more focused attention because if you send people to Facebook…there’s so much noise there that it’s so easy for people to click away or get distracted.
So you always want to send people to your website and you want to have a way to collect their email address.
In exchange for collecting the email address you will give them generally something for free. Whether it’s a single song or an EP or a full album download, this way you’re building up an email address and that allows you to build that direct connection with your fans or with your audience through email.
Because you can send an email and hit your audience instead of hoping…going on a radio station or doing interview-type things, you can actually….like they would’ve had to have done in the old days…you can actually contact them through email or social media.
Then, obviously once you have the email address you need to follow up with them, you need to stay in touch, you need to kind of…establish that relationship by staying in touch and by sharing cool stuff with them and involving them and showing them the ‘behind the scenes’ of what you do because that’s going to…that’s the interesting stuff. Behind the scenes is what everyone wants to see.
And then at the end of that you need to have something to offer them. Something that they can actually pay you money for so that way you can get to that $100 per fan per year so that you can keep making music.
You need to have an offer and you need to make it very easy for them to buy.
So what if you have four band members?
Does the 1,000…how does that 1,000 fans with $100 dollars work?
Well obviously, if you’ve done the math 100,000 divided by four band members is going to mean obviously that everyone in the band isn’t making 100,000 dollars per year.
In that instance, everybody’s making $25,000 per year – assuming all four members have a straight-up equal percentage in the band.
There’s a lot of musicians out there that would be happy with even earning $25,000 a year…but to really make it work, for everyone to be comfortable it would just me that if one musician is capable of getting 1,000 fans then in an ideal situation you could multiply that by four when you’ve got three other band members with you.
So you’re not doing any more work, you’re just kind of sharing the work and everyone’s working together to build up that fanbase.
The other question is…
What if people aren’t willing to give you an email in the first place?
Is this going to work?
Obviously it won’t work because this is a direct-to-fan model. Social media has been proven to not be as effective as email repeatedly.
Twitter feeds and different things like this, they tend to get lost in the shuffle because there’s so much noise on those channels and Facebook has gradually decreased the amount of updates that people actually see even though they are on your fan page.
If they won’t give you the email, chances are they’re not a fan. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much because generally, if someone’s not willing to give you an email…they’re less likely to want to ever pay for anything.
Now what if you don’t write original music?
Well, the 1,000 True Fan Theory is not going to work at all because in theory….playing other people’s music then you’re not going to get any sort of on-going royalties and you’re going to get a very small percentage even… You’re going to have to have permission to sell the music and they’re going to have to…you’re going to have to pay out the lion’s share of your earnings to the original song writers…
So, yeah…it’s definitely not going to work without original music.
The other big objection that some people have with the 1,000 Fan Theory is:
How do you have $100 worth of stuff to sell every single year?
I mean, you basically have to start planning…if you’re only selling downloads you’d have to sell 99 songs at .99 each …I mean that’s a lot of music for people to be putting out.
You obviously need to sell…the bigger your catalog of music the better.
You need to be consistently writing and putting out good music, so you can have a full album, you can have demos, you can have live albums – so that kind of helps you have some extra merchandise to offer.
Then you’re going to be having stuff like t-shirts, hoodies, you can do DVDs and you can also do a membership where people pay…for instance $10/month and they have access to everything – all the music you’ve ever made plus anything new they get for free.
The idea is that if they’re paying you that $10/month, you’re going to hit your $100/year pretty easy, so that’s another way of doing it.
Also, if you have….say you do house concerts… so there’s performances too. You can let fans book you in their home for a couple of hundred dollars. That’s going to limit most bands to their immediate kind of touring area unless you have an “uber fan” who wants to fly you across the country or something.
You’re not going to have a ton of opportunities with house concerts most likely, but even if you get a few of those to happen with a few fans, that’s going to help you get your general, average amount up to $100/year.
What if you do all of this stuff and it still doesn’t work? You’re still not making a living as a musician…?
The way I look at it is that you had a plan, you had a strategy and if you’ve given it your all…then you can feel good that you gave it your best shot and not have any regrets.
Whereas if you kind of just, hope that you would write a “hit song” or hope that you’d be “discovered” and get a record deal and it didn’t happen and you’d kind of always be wondering “what if”, what if I would have just went out there and did it myself?
That’s another reason why I think this is a really good strategy is that you’ll feel good at the end if you put in an honest effort…that you did everything you possibly could if it didn’t work out.
Action Steps for the 1000 True Fans Method
Now that you know what the 1,000 True Fan Theory is, one of the first things that you can do is find out how many fans you would need to be able to quit your current day job.
If you make $35,000/year, that would mean you need 350 people paying you $100/year so you can quit your day job.
Find out if that’s your number or if 25,000 is your number or 40,000 is your number, figure out how many fans you actually need to have per year. It’s just a good number to know.
Then you can ask yourself are you doing something to create even one fan? That’s what you need to be focusing on to grow your career.
The other thing I want you to think about is how you can come up with $100 worth of stuff to sell your audience that they would happily pay for.
It’s got to have value, it’s got to help them out…it’s got to be something that they’ll enjoy and it’s got to be easy for them to give you money.
You don’t want to make it hard for them, so start thing about that and like I said, you’ve got music, you’ve got merchandise, you’ve got live music, you’ve got DVDs….start looking into what you can offer.
Lastly, I want you to think about where your fans are and what other music do they listen to? How can you get them to visit your website?
What can you give them in exchange for getting their email address?
Take those action steps and you’ll be well on your way to being able to grow your audience and get a couple of new fans hopefully…every week or, a lot more than that and you’ll be on your way to building a music career instead of waiting around for…to be discovered and to be worthy of a career.
Photo Credit (Modified From Original)