Finally, we live in the digital world of the cyberpunks. The old music industry certainties are mostly dead, confined to a small number of mainstream pop and legacy rock artists. This is a time of change, both terrifying and exhilarating.
The opportunities for an artist are enormous but so are the pitfalls. More and more it’s necessary for most artists to do their own PR, to build their own brand without the safety net of a record label. While time-consuming this allows direct connection to the fans on a greater level than we have ever seen. But how do you do that?
1,000 True Fans
As Kevin Kelly, the author of the “1000 True Fans”essay points out, it’s the true fan that’s important. The fan that will buy everything you produce. If you can manage this, 1000 fans spending a mere £50 each on your work a year will give you £50,000 a year to live on. Not enough to make you rich, but more than enough to live on.
Because of this, cultivating these fans should be your priority. Bluntly, one true fan is worth more to you than 100 fans who don’t spend money on your work
Direct engagement with your fanbase
It is no longer acceptable for the artist to stand off from their fans as some kind of untouchable figure. You need to be part of your fans, not apart from them. It’s true that this approach has been successfully used by artists before (the DIY punk scene, the “t-shirt” indie bands of the early nineties) but the Internet allows opportunities far beyond what has previously been achieved.
Interact with your fans as much as possible. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter and post where relevant. Your fans should be first and foremost seen as friends who enjoy your work. When that relationship is in place you’ll frequently find they’ll promote your work without being asked. And they’ll be doing so because they love it, not because they’re getting paid. Which makes them far more credible to their peers.
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