Kevin Kelly talks about having 1000 True Fans. It’s a great article. These fans will provide the financial support you need to support your music career.
You need to focus on direct contact with your fans. I know a lot of musicians who aren’t building this fan base. They don’t know who their fans are, where they come from, why they like their music, how old their fans are, what other similar artists they like, and so on. Do you know this about your fans? If not, the best way to do this with with an email marketing campaign. You put a form on your site (and link in your emails) so people can sign up to your fan club. Or you can offer a sign up form to get a free unreleased song or other product you can think of. At your gigs you get fans to give you their email address using a sign up paper and tell them you will give away a free cd. Or you can hand out small cards with your website where people can go to download a free song (after giving you their email address of course).
Forget about American Idol and the need to have millions of adoring fans. All you need is a small army of loyal fans who will buy anything you produce. This takes time to build so make sure you are taking daily actions towards this goal.