How do you make a living as an artist? In the old mass-culture model you needed a distribution and marketing engine that could fire up on your behalf to reach as many people as possible. Sell a million albums and if your take after the record company, agents and managers get their share is a buck or two, you’re doing pretty well.
In the new economy, how many fans do you need to make a living? If you can produce and distribute your own work, Kevin Kelly suggests, all you need is 1000 true fans.
Instead of trying to reach the narrow and
unlikely peaks of platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity
status, they can aim for direct connection with 1,000 True Fans. It’s a
much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of a
fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but
by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.
Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day’s
wages per year in support of what you do. That “one-day-wage” is an
average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than
that. Let’s peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per
year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which
minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.
One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you
added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is
doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards
the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their
work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.