March 5th, 2008
From Kevin Kelly’s blog The Technium via Waxy.org (and Mike who emailed me a link), a nice crystallization for me of how the long tail can work for creators. Most of the time long tail discussions are about how Amazon makes a billion dollars selling one copy per month of a million different indie CDs. But creative people can grab a chunk somewhere in the middle of their long tail graph of fans and make a living – just get 1,000 True Fans and they’ll support you.
Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day’s wages per year in support of what you do. That “one-day-wage” is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that. Let’s peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.
One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.
Kevin’s apparently what they call a “smart person” – I didn’t link to it because I was too slow, but a couple of posts ago was this excellent piece on what you can still sell when everything is free.