[Note: I did not create this idea, it has been floating around the web and in business for awhile. Google “ 1,000 True Fans” for more info”]
Typically, I write my blogs with a certain tone and style. I start a certain way and end a certain way.
This one is going to be a little different, I am writing this blog post to you as if I am speaking to a long time friend…
Simply put, the reality of the music industry isn’t what you think.
It’s not even close.
I can distinctly remember assuming,
-If I just got a few gigs, these would snowball into a bunch
-If people just heard my work, they would instantly hear the “value“ in it
-If I just got on the Beatport charts, that’s all I’d ever need
-If I just got 1k likes, 5k likes, 25k likes etc...
I had some rather funny notions, but above all I learned the most important lesson.
The majority of people that come across your work, even if they love it will not support you as an artist.
Hell, look in your folder of tracks, how many of those are pirated?
I’m not here to debate the ethics of pirated music as I truly don’t care either way, but the facts are simple my friend, music no longer has the value it once had.
If I want to hear a new track, what do I usually do?
Head to youtube, loop a video for free and let the audio run. I only buy a small percentage of music to either play out, or that I truly love.
Considering I work in this industry, I wonder what it takes for most people to actually sit down and pull out their card to grab a few songs.
To me, music is important and rare. However it takes a special artist and a special song for me to pull the trigger and buy it.
Look around the world we live in, free streaming of tracks, artists giving everything away, record labels picking you up 100% based on your fan count, not your work.
These are the facts of the industry, the internet that made sharing of music easy and free also destroyed the sales of music.
New Artists tend to focus on the big picture. Large numbers, huge plays. While on their quest for these goals, they overlook the 1 additional like, the 1 new comment...
Enter 1,000 True Fans
The quest for superstar status is elusive and a mental killer, you can slave away for years and years and never make a dent in it.
You may over those years get a few 1,000 likes, you may have direct contact with some of your fans but you seem no closer to your end goal, being a “superstar”. ( or hell, forget superstar, how about just being somewhat, vaguely known by a handful of people)
I challenge you today to try a new method, use a new mindset, shoot for 1,000 true fans.
(For what it’s worth, New York Times Best Selling Authors Tim Ferriss and Tucker Max, both credit the 1,000 true fan idea as the “best” marketing concept to learn. Although they are in the book world, much of it applies to music as well)
1,000 True Fans means that you have 1,000 UBER fans.
You post a song on Facebook, they always share it, they always play it, they love everything you do.
These super fans will buy all your tracks, they don’t buy one remix, they buy all 5. If your a more established artist and have t shirts, they buy 2 shirts ( and a few for their friends). These fans will drive 100 miles to see you play a gig, these fans will tell every person they meet about you.
These are the fans you want, not only are these the fans you want, this is a goal that can keep you sane.
You shoot for massive social media stats
You shoot for massive plays and views
You copy what all the big guys do.
You think that following what they do will work for you, let me be the first to tell you it won’t.
There is one HUGE advantage you the “starving” artist has that the big names do not.
You have the ability to directly connect with each and every fan. You can turn your “likes” and comments into a true fan and not just a statistic.
Everyone nowadays gets so caught up with how they “look” online that they don’t focus on the small picture. They focus on the big picture, total views/plays/likes/followers etc.
You must look at each and every, follow, comment, like etc as a real person, not just a number.
When you start to view these stats as real people and not some tiny piece of your goal of “ 50,000 likes” magically things start to happen for you.
I’ve talked and wrote a book on how to gain large social media stats, which is more or less the starting point of this topic. ( Your going to need traffic to convert to true fans, you can’t have one without the other).
If you already have a basic marketing plan in place, it’s time to start taking each and every fan seriously.
Below are 4 ways to turn stats into true fans.
Not only will this help you succeed as an artist, when your fans start to view you as a relatable , real person your value to them goes up.
Remember, the value of music is slowly drowning, bring that value back with how you connect with your fans.
One- The Reach Out
The internet has made everything anonymous, billions of people are clicking on stuff every second, when someone clicks on your stuff you need to go beyond the norm and reach out to them.
When your starting out, the single best thing you can do is reach out to EACH and every, comment/like/ follower etc.
This is especially important if your only getting 2-3 likes/ followers a week. When these people communicate with you, or show interest in you show interest back.
I’m not talking about following them back, or “liking” their post. Anyone can do that and it takes 2 seconds. I am talking take the 2-3 minutes are write to them like a real person, not just another stat.
If there is a way to find that person's page and directly message them, do that. Emails always work as well but try the direct message first.
For example just say you post a new song on Facebook and someone says “nice track”.
99% of people would simply like the post or write back THANKS.
Go beyond this. Head over to your personal page ( so you can message them directly) and truly thank them for the comment. (side note, I’d still write on your page as well, so you look active and that you respond)
Something along the lines of.
Thanks for your comment on my track. It truly means a lot that you took a few seconds from your day to write me.
If you’d like, I’d love to put you on my list/ send you a exclusive track/keep in contact with you for future releases.
No worries if not and much thanks for your support !
cheers your an awesome fan.
This may seem a bit odd, and it is, in fact NO ONE does this. That alone is why it will work well.
Of course, some people will get weirded out, but most won’t. Remember these people came to YOUR page first, they liked your song and thus view you positively.
This is 100% the opposite of blindly spamming everyone, you are directly targeting people that already have an interest in your music.
Again the beauty of this plan is the big names can’t do this, they simply have too many social hits a day to keep up.
You though, may only get a few hits a day, take the 10 minutes to reach out to these people , you may not convert them directly to true fans, but its a hell of a way to start off.
I rarely talk about it, but I am well versed in the pop music world and have done a number of marketing campaigns for up and coming artists. The above advice is truly one of the best ways to grow your brand fan by fan)
( Personal Note : Listen, STOP what your doing right now, go to your cell phone and txt yourself this message “ I will contact each and every fan for a week and see what happens” . Leave that message” up” in you texts aka don’t read it so it always says you have 1 new message. This way, every time you check you txts you will get reminded what you need to do. Take action NOW and don’t put off your chance to make it any longer)
Two-Truly Connect with your fans
Let’s face it, in order to get someone to care about you enough to buy all your music and all your merch ( aka uber fan) you're going to need to connect with them on a deep level. Forming long term relationships with them is key.
Now, to some of you this may start to sound a bit creepy, but bare with me.
A good friend of mine is a professional painter( aka she makes a living via her paintings) one tip I learned from her was she formed relationships with her best clients (or fans).
She didn’t talk to these people like a number, she didn’t treat them as “please buy my work !” she treated them like a friend.
No one does this anymore. It’s turned into a giant cluster fuck of everyone trying to “get their piece of the pie”
In the music industry, this is especially true. The number of spam emails I get every day is absurd.
These artists don’t view me as a human, and thus, I don’t listen to their work.
This may sound mean, but unless you take the time to talk to me as a human ( aka, show interest in what I do/ chat about my work/ treat my time with respect) I simply don’t care what you have to offer.
Why am I telling you this?
Simple, act like a human being, more importantly treat each and every fan as a friend. Chat with them like a friend and interact with them as such. They DO NOT owe you anything, you should be grateful for each and every listen/ play/ like you get. This attitude will allow you to keep your cool through all the struggles you will face in this industry.
It’s almost to the point where if you are employing the marketing tactics from my book, you should have your fans in two groups.
Group A = “ Minimal Fans “ these fans know who you are and don’t mind you, but they don’t care a ton yet about what you produce. These would be the majority of most people's current social media stats.
For these fans, you would go about the normal marketing principles I have talked about before.
For Group B the “ True Fan/ Uber Fan” you can go to a much much more personal level. These fans already LOVE you and support all your work. The key with them is they require a much more detailed and personal touch compared to the minimal fans.
For example, group A fans of your work don’t give a shit what you did this week, or about your personal live.
Group B however, loves to hear about your personal life ( within reason ) and about your life outside of music.
Remember, Group B thrives on a deep contact, this is how you keep them as a long term fan.
Think about popular “celebrity news”, its all about their personal life. The reason this sells is because most people think they are getting a secret look into the person's life ( a person they admire).
You can do much the same with your true fans. They enjoy connecting with you on that level.
( Note: it should be noted that this style of contact and connecting with them should happen after they ALREADY love what you do. This is more to keep them as a long term true fan rather than to gain them. Please Please, do not start sending out your personal life to everyone on your social media, 99% of them won’t care and will loose interest, the key is finding / creating that 1% then cultivating them this way. Having 2 set’s of fans is often the best way to go about it. Although the 1% is a small amount, 80% of your sales/ growth will come from this 1%.
Three- The Large Pool
In my early years working in the music industry ( marketing for others) I learned very quickly that you needed a lot of traffic to tip the scales.
You see artists that have 50k followers, and 100k Facebook likes and you assume they are selling a TON of tracks. This simply isn’t the case, I can tell you a number of artists in the 100k+ fan range on social media that only sell 100-200 copies of a track when it first comes out.
This obv, isn’t the case every time, but more often than not they aren’t pulling huge numbers. There are a number of reasons for this, but the facts still remain the same.
You need a large pool of fans, to convert them to true fans. If you have 2,000 “ fans” I can assure you unless you talked with every single one of them, you do not have 1,000 true fans.
Having 1,000 people that would actively buy and support you requires a much larger pool then you think. So although the 1,000 true fan concept does give artists a piece of mind and a great goal to shoot for, remember you still need new fans coming into your work every single day.
Four- Above all else, be yourself.
If you would have asked me a few years ago I would have laughed at you, but time and time again people can sniff out when your acting fake or putting on a front.
I truly think the only reason my blog is reaching the audience it is (aka you guys) is because I don’t censor myself for the sake of “appeasing the masses” .
Not only do I not censor myself, I ALWAYS write topics that are truly on my mind ( and not just things I hope people will like)
Writing and music can be one in the same, when your making music for the love of god make music that you LOVE.
A great example is years back I was doing marketing for a up and coming pop singer, the artist was 110% manufactured from the record label I was working with at the time. I tired every trick in the book , but for an entire year I couldn’t gain any ground with his fan base.
NO ONE connected with his music.
On the outside, his music was 100% the same as everything else at the time, but something just didn’t work.
Looking back, I feel there was to many incongruities with his tracks and him.
He had a different musical background and was molded into something he wasn’t ( if this sounds crazy to you, this happens ALL the time in the pop world ( and now the EDM world …..ok, I’m not going to name names but you get the gist)
Anyways, his music just wasn’t “him” and for reasons I can’t explain it didn’t connect with a soul.
Now you may be saying, well I am ALWAYS congruent with my music, and I still don’t have fans ! I’m not saying writing music you love will get you fans, but I’m saying that some of the strongest fan bases I have ever seen are due to true love for the art from both the fan and the artist.
A GREAT example of this is MGK, ( yes I know not dance music) you can easily tell he wasn’t made in a box or made in a studio by a bunch of guys in suits. His fans truly love him and IMO he does what he loves and nothing else.
If you love 2010 dubstep, make that, if you love 2009 progressive house, make that. In the end at least you will make music you love. If you don’t love your own work, no one else will sadly.
There you go 4 ways to turn stats into fans
It should be noted that the 1,000 true fan idea was originally the “amount” a artist needed in order to turn his art into a full time paying gig. While I have no idea if this is true or not, I can say that if you get 1,000 true fans you will be a hell of a lot better off then haveing 50k “ fans” but no one that really knows who you are.
Treat each and every fan with respect and kindness, thank them for everything they do for you. Years from now when your standing on your stage, the 1,000’s of true fans that show up will have all formed the one day you decided to make a change.
The good news, if you can gain 1 true fan you can gain 1 million, you just need to keep scaling up.
I truly wish you the best of luck, if you ever need anything you know where to find me.