1000 True Fans: How to Make The Theory Work For You and Your Music

The 1000 True Fans Theory is an idea from Kevin Kelly that a lot of producers and musicians really need to start thinking about when pursuing their music career. People tend to think being a professional means you need to be famous in order to make a living, but that is just not true. There are plenty of talented people in the music industry making a living each year that are not celebrities or famous. This theory helps explain how this is possible.

The 1000 True Fans approach boils down to the idea, if you can reach 1000 True Fans and those people spend $100 a year on you and your music, then you'll make $100,000. Now this sounds pretty straight forward, and doable, but it's far from easy. The first thing you'll need to understand is what defines a True Fan.

Kevin Kelly describes a true fan as:
A True Fan is defined as 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.
So now that you know what a True Fan is, the next step is to figure out your bottom line income is for you to survive, pay your bills, and have some money left over. In the USA, a pretty good personal income is $40,000. At this amount you're not loaded, but you're also not struggling. If you work the 1000 Fans Theory for a yearly income of $40,000, that is only $40 per person per year.

There are tons of different revenue streams you can tap to earn that $40. Some ways to do it are through ticket sales, merchandise, streaming, physical sales, and licensing. It's important to remember that 1000 True Fans is not 100% of your fan base.

Realistically 1000 True Fans probably represents closer to 10% or less of your entire fan base. So where a True Fan will buy everything you produce, the other 90% may or may not be all that interested in buying much from you. Think of a Dart Board, the True Fans would be the Bulls Eye and everyone else would fall into the other concentric circles surrounding the middle.

Now from my perspective, my bread and butter for the past 6 years has been in the licensing/publishing world of the music business. I totally understand how difficult it is to make $100 a day with streaming/iTunes sales but that's where licensing music can really help make those numbers more reachable.

The average price for commercial music sits at about $30-50 for a standard license but can go up much higher depending on the usage. For the sake of this article, let's figure the standard license at $40 of which you net $20. It is 100% doable to license 2 tracks a day if you have commercially viable tracks spread among quality publishers and music libraries. That gets you around $40 a day which is $14,600 a year.

Now there are 7 billion people in the world, and all you need to make a living is 500-1000. You can reach those people. It is possible, and you can do it!

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