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Finding Your 1000 True Fans For Musicians – Build Your Tribe

When you think about famous musicians, your brain might instantly envision massive sold-out stadiums like Madison Square Garden. 

Having that many people coming to see you live would evoke a feeling of accomplishment.

This is why many musicians believe that they need to have millions of fans to succeed in the music industry.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need millions of fans to have a successful and sustainable music career.

Instead, you can focus on finding a loyal tribe of supporters to help you sustain success over the long-term.

Below we discuss finding your 1000 true fans for musicians and building your tribe of loyal supporters.

Finding Your 1000 True Fans For Musicians

Enter your 1,000 true fans

The concept of your tribe of 1,000 true fans will be a massive shift to your thinking around your music. 

However, it will be invaluable in getting you focused on who your target audience is and where to prioritize your time and energy when it comes to attracting and nurturing new fans

Furthermore, you’ll realize that a small number of fans can be more powerful than you might think.

Who are your 1,000 true fans?

The concept of 1,000 true fans was originally coined by Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly. As Kelly puts it, “Pleasing a true fan is pleasurable and invigorating. It rewards the artists to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that true fans appreciate.”

There’s a big difference between a fan and a true fan. A fan might be someone who streamed an album once and “Liked” your page on Facebook. But, within this school of thought, a true fan (the kind we’re aiming for) is one who will buy every album you release with matching merch. 

They’ll drive or bus; however, many miles it takes to hear you play. They’ll sign up for your VIP content just to watch you get ready for a show. A true fan doesn’t just like what you put out; they are personally dedicated and attached to your message and purpose.

Getting followers and streams is great, but it’s a lot more challenging to get an emotional and financial commitment from people. However, it’s so worth it in the later stages of your music career. 

With a tight-knit group of people willing to support your music, you’ll be able to produce a stable income for yourself. No one’s guaranteeing you a massive fortune with this method, but a comfortable income from a fulfilling music career is more than realistic and attainable. 

Related Reading: How to Build a Brand As A Musician That People Will Love

Related Reading: Music Branding Tips: 4 Elements of a Strong Compelling Brand (Miley Cyrus Case Study)

Related Reading: The Importance of Branding Yourself as A Musician

Here’s how it works

You create enough content, do enough shows, or release enough merch each year that allows you to earn about $100 in profit from each fan.

Based on this logic, if you amass 1,000 fans, you’d be making $100,000 per year. That’s not even accounting for the other areas you can make money from your music, like streaming, for example. 

1000 True Fans For Musicians - Kevin Kelly - Music With Flavor

Nothing’s Written In Stone With the 1,000 Rule

It’s important to remember that 1,000 isn’t a holy number. It’s more of a benchmark to show you the power that even a small amount of supportive fans can have on your music career. 

However, you can always adjust things to better suit your situation. For example, you might believe you can make even more than $100 per year in profit from each of your true fans. Or maybe you’re just starting out, and your goal is to earn a profit of $100 each from 50 true fans by the end of the year. $5,000 is still a nice chunk of change to be made from your music.

The possibilities are endless when you start thinking about your music in this way, and you can scale things up or down to better fit your situation or financial goals. 

The better the relationships you build with your true fans when you don’t have many sets the tone for how you’ll treat them when that group gets larger.

This is powerful because it gets you hyper-focused on the things and people that matter when growing your music career. This relates to the 80/20 rule that we mentioned a while back. 

In this case, 20% of your fanbase (your true fans) will be the reason for 80% of your income. This is why it makes sense to spend most of your time catering to them.

How to implement this in your music branding

Many areas of your music career will benefit greatly from this concept. One way to organize your priorities based on the 1,000 true fans theory is to ask yourself:

  • How much can I comfortably live on per year? Or what do I want to make per year?
  • Who are my current true fans?
  • How many true fans do I want to have by the end of the year?
  • What will I do to attract and nurture these new fans? (Content, music, branding, etc.)
  • How will I generate income from my true fans? (Shows, merch, etc.)

In previous articles, we discussed creating value for your fans and giving them a feeling of importance. You want them to feel like they’re a part of something special—an exclusive group of like-minded individuals.

Some examples of artists who have created this experience at the highest levels are Nicki Minaj with the “Barbz.” For Eminem, it’s the “Stans.” Justin Bieber has the “Beliebers.” For Lady Gaga, her true fans are called the “Little Monsters.”

However, more and more independent artists like Younger Hunger or Merkules continue to cultivate very respectable groups of true fans who support them enough to do music full time. 

Maintaining a positive, growth-centric relationship with your fans will be a constant process, like any relationship. However, your efforts will compound in the long-run.

Final Thoughts On Finding Your 1000 true fans for musicians

The concept of 1,000 true fans can help you to narrow in on what’s important now. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be patient and appreciative of the people you already have supporting you. 

However, every decision you make with your music should be made with this concept in mind.

Through this framework, your marketing and branding efforts will become more cohesive and serve a greater purpose in the grand scheme of your overall vision. 

The hope is that you’ll be able to create a profitable and long-lasting music career for yourself, earn a living doing the thing you love, all thanks to your tribe of true fans.

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