The following is an excerpt from The Music Marketing Guidebook. Purchase the full e-book here or scroll down to download a free sample chapter today.
You’ve introduced yourself, gotten a fan on your e-mail list, and done what once seemed impossible – making the sale. What more is there to be done? There’s another level you can achieve through further nurturing — the Superfan.
The 1,000 True Fans Theory
In 2008, Wired Magazine co-founder Kevin Kelley introduced a concept that sent shockwaves through the creative community. The 1,000 True Fans Theory. Put simply, he argues that in order to make a living as a creative of any kind, all you need is a direct relationship with 1,000 “superfans”. These are your die hard fans. People who will travel far and wide to see you. They’ll buy anything with your name on it – no questions asked. If you can make $100 profit from each of these fans every year, you have earned a very respectable living. That all sounds fun in theory, but let’s talk about how to actually do it.
Nurturing Your Superfans
Who is an artist that you will support with your dollars no matter what? For a long time, that artist was Kanye West for me. My first concert was Usher’s Confessions Tour in 2004. The opening act? Kanye West. I was 13. I grew up in a very religious household, so Hip-Hop was largely banned – until Kanye came on the scene. Instead of baggy jeans and guns, he wore polo shirts and fitted pants. He wrote songs about self-consciousness and the perils of materialism. He even had a song called Jesus Walks. All those details were are part of the thesis I presented to my mom to convince her to buy the tickets. He was the first Hip Hop star I could identify with, and I’ve been supporting ever since.
You can have the same impact with your fans. As you can see, Kanye didn’t have to do much outside of releasing music to earn my support. I related so much to his overall persona, that supporting him felt like supporting myself. If your music connects with people, you won’t have to work as hard to win them over. But what about the rest?
Your superfans have to be nurtured. These are the people who love you the most, and they want to feel like you love them back. There are many things you can do to express your appreciation. Follow your fans on social media. Thank them when they tag you in a complimentary post. Take pictures with them and share from your official Instagram account. These are all deeply personal interactions that make a listing impact on an individual level. The more you grow, the more meaningful each interaction will be to your fans, so never stop.
It’s possible that you have quite a few superfans waiting to spend their money to prove their undying loyalty and gratitude to you. There’s just one problem. You haven’t given them the chance to do it.
Presenting the Opportunity
It’s possible that you have quite a few superfans waiting to spend their money to prove their undying loyalty and gratitude to you. There’s just one problem. You haven’t given them the chance to do it. Let’s fix that.
Your superfans value exclusive experiences, and they’re willing to pay cash for them. Don’t believe me? Beyonce’s 2016 Formation World Tour sold front row VIP packages for $3600 each. Some packages included early venue entry, custom designed merch, a commemorative lanyard, and a backstage tour by Beyonce’s mother!
In 2013, rapper Nipsey Hussle released his mixtape Crenshaw for free on DatPiff.com. Soon after, he announced a pop up shop where he would be selling 1,000 physical copies of the tape. The CD’s would also grant admission to an upcoming private concert. The price? $100 per CD. They sold out in 1 day, with Jay-Z himself purchasing 100 copies. Yes, that’s $100,000 of revenue in one day, from a group a superfans who were willing to go above and beyond to support their favorite artist.
To figure out who your superfans are, start offering one of a kind packages of your own. Instead of just selling digital copies of your album, offer an autographed CD or Vinyl with an exclusive T-Shirt, priced higher than normal. Don’t underestimate how much your fans are willing to support you.
Create a superfan offer to test the loyalty of your fans. Price it higher than normal, but not too outrageous. You might be surprised to see how well it works.