The article “1,000 True Fans” seeks to explain a way for individual artists, producers, inventors, creators, etc. to sustain themselves based on the long-tail economic model.
What’s this economic model, you might ask? To be honest I’d never heard of it before reading this article. That may be because I’ve never taken an economics course in my life, but I digress. The Economist does a pretty good job of explaining it in this piece and the model looks like the picture below:
Basically what I’ve taken away from the long-tail model is that it’s good for big corporations and that’s about it. But the “True Fans” approach finds a silver lining in this model, suggesting that individual artists and the like can be successful as long as they have – you guessed it – 1,000 true fans.
A true fan is described in the article as “someone who will purchase any and everything you produce.” Obviously this isn’t hard to imagine when we think of giant pop stars and the people that support them. Some superfans have been known to follow their favorite artists around the country just so they can go to as many of their concerts as possible. This kind of success and notoriety seems impossible to attain for these individuals who may just be starting out on their own with no concrete fanbase. The article makes it clear that this is by no means a way to attain stardom and wealth, but rather a way to make an “honest living” – an artist can be financially secure doing what they love without being tied to this economic model.
As the “True Fans” approach suggests, having an intimate following is both supportive and engaging. I particularly like the emphasis that this approach places on audience engagement, as I think it’s an important element regardless of the arena. I support it for journalists, I support it for artists, I support it for inventors. Getting feedback from the people you’re creating content for can help to both strengthen and diversify your work. I think that reaching the 1,000 true fans mark may have been more difficult to achieve in the past, but with the rise of social media and viral content it seems more attainable. It seems like a good way to remain financially stable while still creating what you want to create for people who genuinely enjoy your work.