DJ Marketing

How 1,000 True Fans can pay your living as a DJ?

This is a concept I’ve been wanting to introduce to you for quite some time now.

It’s an idea created by Kevin Kelly,  who is the founding executive editor at wired magazine. He had been studying the relationship between income and art for many years and created a concept you need to know about.

Success is overcomplicated. Aiming to get millions and millions of fans is probably over-ambitious, especially when you’re starting out.

When you simplify it down the fact is, you don’t need millions fans to be a successful creator that can live off that income alone…the truth is you only need 1,000. 

Kevin’s 1,000 fans Concept

In 2008 Kevin shared this idea with the world and people loved it. His idea is that if you can keep 1,000 people extremely happy – they will pay for you to do what you love most. 

We now live in a world where technology (i.e. social media) allows us to connect with people all around the world. Traditionally this hasn’t been the case, for example, before the internet a musician would likely need a record label / publisher to connect with fans around the world. As an artist, if we cut out all the record labels, publishers etc, then the numbers we need to actually make a living are very small – especially when you’re communicating with fans directly. 

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.Kevin Kelly

Kevin had been researching this idea for a long time, but he never thought his basic concept would reach the people it did. In an interview with London Real, he likened the success of his article to much like the success of a musician who suddenly has a hit, when they least expect it.

The definition of a ‘true fan’

Kevin’s idea is pretty simple – generate 1k true fans and you’ll have enough money to make it a living as a musician. Sounds easy right?

A true fan is someone who will be of most value to you as a DJ or producer. These are the people who will write to you a lot, you need to look after these guys the most – they’re more important than anyone else. Kevin, defines a ‘true fan’ as “someone who will buy anything and everything you produce”. The moment you stop engaging with your true fans is the point moment you start looking for another job, because they won’t pay for your living anymore! 

Off the top of your head, how many true fans do you have based on Kevin’s definition? Your mum doesn’t count btw!

true fans

How the numbers add up?

Where a lot of people go wrong is when they think “I’ll get 1 million people to spend a $1 with me”, but this is usually way too high. Achieving growth at that mass is going to take a lot of money, and a lot of external help which will eat away at your income.  The idea behind Kevin’s theory is that 1,000 true fans will all be happy to spend $100 on your music each year, be it merchandise, gigs, downloads etc. As an artist, this will generate you $100,000 income, i.e. A LIVING. This is much more achievable. 

This $100 figure is an average, so out of your 1,000 fans, some might only spend $20, others will spend $500.

It’s down to you to present your true fans with the opportunities to spend money on you. What opportunities are you giving your fans to spend $100 with you?

Why you should focus on the fans you have? Even if it’s just 1 or 2

One of the worst things you can do in both music and business is try to please everybody. Like I said above, gunning for the masses is a way of failing and even if you do get that far you’ll have pressure from managers, record labels and publishers to make music that you probably won’t want to.

If you’re just starting out or only have a handful of fans, my advice is to focus on them – don’t worry about anyone else. If you make these people feel more connected to you, they’ll do all the marketing for you in spreading your music to all their friends. Suddenly you’ll have a handful more true fans, and so on.

The viral effect of keeping 10 people happy will multiply.

Keep your small tribe happy and watch it grow, into an army.


How to gain 1,000 true fans?

This is an in-depth subject and something I’m planning on covering fully in my courses, which will be coming out very soon, so keep look out!
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