TPS #022: Forget 1,000 True Fans

Author: Andre Mullen - 3 min Read

Read Time: 3 minutes

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In today’s newsletter, I want to talk about why you should forget about 1,000 and focus on only 100 true fans as well as the steps to do so.

More than a decade ago, Kevin Kelly wrote an essay called 1,000 True Fans – essentially encouraging creators to forget going for a large fanbase. Since then, the methodology has served as the go-to source for audience growth – particularly for recording artists.

However, with social media, access to distribution, and the rise of new creator tools, the threshold for success has shifted for artists. Artists need to collect only 100 true Fans—not 1,000—paying them $1,000 a year, not $100. Today, artists can effectively make more money off fewer fans.

However, artists and their managers who struggle with seeing their music holistically won’t see sustainability.

You’ve read this far so it’s obvious that you want to know.

So forget 1,000 fans and let’s dive in.

"1,000 vs. 100 true fans is a different mindset and product."

While a creator can earn $100 a year from a fan via purchases or donations, collecting $1,000 a year per fan requires a wholly different mindset and product.

Li Jin, a startup investor and advisor, compares the difference between 1,000 fans vs. 100 fans:

Your fans expect to get meaningful value and purpose from the product.

There are 3 steps an artist needs to take in order to monetize 100 fans at $1,000:

1. Provide exclusive content
2. Deliver value
3. Accountability

This shift in offering starts in the “Deepening Relationship” phase of the Artist Creator Funnel that I referred to in my previous newsletter of the same name.

While gaining fans who are willing to pay $1,000 a year is no small feat, it requires your artist clients and creators in general to offer a step-function increase in value.

The way to do it?

Go niche and give your fans experiences they will never forget.

Here’s how step by step:

Step 1: Provide Exclusive Content

To monetize 100 fans at $1,000, you must offer access to exclusive and differentiated content and experiences.

Exclusive and differentiated content is content where the audience is given a one-of-a-kind or limited quantity choice in how they experience your artist brand. These can be merch drops, physical copies – vinyl, CD, or cassette – of albums, and with the rise of web3 and blockchain – NFTs.

Below are some further examples of exclusive content:

We’ve seen the delivery of exclusive content take off before. More notably Nipsey Hussle sold 60 copies of his Mailbox Money mixtape for $1,000.

I’ve worked with artists who have done exclusive content: one of whom created 200 digital versions of 3 different album covers to give away to his fans that bought his physical album for $100. It generated an additional $20,000 in revenue.

In both cases, we see how providing exclusive and differentiated content from the artist’s brand is what appeals to fans.

Your fans are willing to pay for more exclusive content that offers them an experience.

Step 2: Deliver Value

People don’t only want to feel valued, but they want to see and experience value from an artist.

Many artists struggle with this, feeling that it isn’t that deep.

However, in building a brand and a fanbase, delivering an experience every time by doing what you say builds credibility in the eyes of your fans.

Whether that be your song being released when you said it will, a show scheduled and tickets being sold, or merch being available on a particular day – these are examples of tangible value.

Experiences can deliver tangible value to your fans every single time.

Step 3: Accountability

The more your fans invest in your brand, the more they are invested in achieving a desired outcome.

At a higher price point, you’re not just offering more or better content, a product, or a service. You’re also motivating and incentivizing your fans. Your accountability to your fans says you care and you want to see them win. For instance, artists who are producers offering sound kits could also provide access to a tutorial on its use.

Transparency is another form of accountability.

Now, before skipping over these few sentences, you can create boundaries for the information you are transparent about. However, being transparent about your wins and losses, for example, as an artist, demonstrates your commitment to your craft.

This establishes trust from your fans and your artist brand as an authority, as seen in the graphic below:

Accountability changes the relationship from transactional to relational – a key element in any fan experience.

3 Steps to Monetize 100 Fans:
1. Provide exclusive content
2. Deliver value every time
3. Be accountable

Hope that helps.

See you next week.

✋🏾When you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Schedule a 1:1 Growth Strategy Call with me on growth, strategy, content, and monetization.

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