Now for some fun! I recorded some shred/neoclassical riffs and had them triggered by the xplorer guitar hero controller for XBox360 plugged into the computer via USB.
There are valid points on both sides. I think there is a lot of value in finding a small core of true fans. Yes it is very hard work – you need to take daily action in marketing yourself or your band daily for years. You need to build a mailing list of your fans. I think this is much better than dreaming of being discovered by a label and having millions of adoring fans.
What 1000 True Fans really means is that you will more realistically have a distribution of fans across varying price points. So you might have songs and cds for under $10, T-shirts for $25, box set for $100, and full blown band memorabilia for hundreds of dollars. Maybe you create a home study course for guitar or drums. So will need to gather thousands of fans, some that will buy everything you produce, but others that will buy things at different price levels.
Check out the new video guitar lesson site for learning Guitar Hero songs. Even if you don’t like the game (I’ve only played it once) you might like the songs the game uses – mostly rock and metal tunes. I’m pulling vids from other sites and may create some myself as well. Have fun!
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.
Chris Anderson talks about Free in a recent Wired article. As you probably know there’s been an ongoing debate about whether music should be free. His argument is that the cost of digital goods is trending towards zero. You can have millions of people downloading your songs without any additional cost to replicate the song. While this isn’t completely true (there are costs and time in producing a CD and bandwidth costs – although these costs are also declining) there is some truth to it.
I usually get annoyed when people say music should be free. I often think, ‘Why the hell should it be free? We put a ton of effort into making a CD, pay for studio time and production, or software/hardware for our computers, spend tons of our own time and we should just give it away? Fuck that shit! I’m sick of society devaluing artists!’ But the practical side of me also says, ‘Well if people are expecting music and other stuff online to be free, how can I work with that and still have a career?’. The truth is I’m still trying to figure it out, and so are many others. For now I still have a day job. Maybe that’s the model that will have to be.
A popular business model for musicians is to give away their digital downloads for free and sell the ‘experience’. This means making money from the concerts. You could also sell tangible goods like T-shirts, Mugs, sheet music, special CDs and DVDS which Kevin Kelly calls embodiment.
What if you’re not a touring musician? How do you sell the ‘experience’? You could do a live video webcast of you playing some songs or teaching, and charge for it. You could teach lessons and link to songs or lesson books in which you are an affiliate, or put ads on your site. You can now put different types of ads on your videos. You could get sponsors from the guitar companies or related industries to put ads on your site. Most likely a variety of these techniques in combination will be most effective.
Everyone’s still trying to figure out what to do about the Internet. So get out there and try different things and see what works.