The Bad News
The number of what people class as a successful band is very low, the likes of your Metallica’s, Guns And Roses, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath’s make up less than 1% of all the bands out there.
The Good News
You don’t need to be a truly successful band to make enough money to make a decent living as a band. You might not be making the millions that the top 1% are making but you can still be a well known and profitable band. The odds on you becoming a profitable band are much greater than the chances of you becoming an uber successful band.
Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine explained his theory that any band only needs 1000 TRUE fans to have a profitable and worthwhile career in the music industry as follows:
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.
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the superdeluxe reissued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the T-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.Kevin Kelly – Wired Magazine
So if you follow this theory you can imagine that if your band has 1000 of these ‘superfans’ and each spends an average of £100 over the course of the year on your music and merchandise etc then suddenly you have a band income of £100,000. Hopefully you will have more fans who don’t quite fall into this category but will still spend money to buy a t-shirt or album at some point during the year or attend one of your shows.
Obviously you need to somehow obtain the so called ‘superfans’ for all this to happen! And yes not every ‘superfan’ will spend £100 but some will spend more and some will spend less so it kinda balances itself out.
The big question is how on earth do you get 1000 superfans?
Let’s Get 1000 Superfans
Fans want to know what’s going on and what the band are up to. You don’t have to tell them what you’re having for breakfast but if your in rehersals then upload a pic. Travelling to a show then post a pic of the band loading the van. Try to be consistent and upload regular content, weekly and most importantly INTERACT with fans.
If someone comments on a post, retweets a post or posts a review or photo from a show try and like it, drop a comment and generally be approachable and friendly. The last thing you want is the appearance of a band that has a big ego and doesn’t appreciate it’s fans. After all the fans can make or break you as a band.
Make It Easy To Access Your Music
Fans are a greedy bunch and always want more no matter how much material that you can provide! Make sure that you are using as many possible streams to get your material out there. Use Youtube, Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Instagram to showcase your music and videos and keep them happy and to try and cover all options as not every fan has every service.
Let Them Know How They Can Support You
Bands need to make money, not just to buy that nice shiny new guitar or shed sized amplifier but to cover costs such as recording new albums and studio time.
Make it simple for them to help and feel like they are helping, which they most certainly are, by offering ways to financially support the band via Patreon subscriptions for exclusive content or via something like Kickstarter to raise money to record your next album.
In a recent campaign on Kickstarter Jack J Hutchinson raised his target for album recording costs within 24 hours and was 150% over this within 48 hours. Each pledge level offered something like signed albums, plectrums or similar things that you couldn’t just buy any other way. Pledge enough and he’ll play a show in your garden! Now that’s something special and for a superfan it’s something they’ll always remember!
Face To Face Interaction
No we’re not talking about doorstepping like politicians!
Everytime you have a show offers you the oppourtunity to interact with your fans and find out what they like and importantly maybe what they don’t.
Make sure they know where to find your stuff online, ask them if they have the latest album or if they’ve bought the new tour t-shirt. Tell them where you’re playing next and if you’re headlining check out what they thought of the support while you’re at it.
If they ask for a photo then do it, get the whole band involved because that photo is going straight on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and will be seen by all their friends who might think, ‘I’ll have a listen to them’. Bam you gained new fans for a few seconds of your time.