What comes to your mind when you think of Super Fans? Maybe long queues of people in front of ticket outlets? Fanclubs? People joining their favorite artists on tour in different cities or even countries?
And which artists do you associate with all this? Adele, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Justin Timberlake, AC/DC, Metallica, Green Day, The Rolling Stones? (Random List)
All of them rank high in popularity according to their combined Facebook and twitter followings. And they sell enough records, streams, merchandise and tickets for their shows.
What about you?
Ok, let’s talk about you. Since you are reading this, it is very likely that you are not as well renowned as the artists mentioned above.
The important questions for you are:
- Do I have or can I create Super Fans even though I don’t have a big following yet?
- Can I create Super Fans, even if my style of music will never be of interest for a big audience?
We will answer this question by analyzing real world examples. First, let’s clarify what Super Fans are and what the so-called Super Fan Formula is.
What are Super Fans?
Super Fans are not comparable to average followers on Facebook or Twitter. They usually differ from raving teenagers, too. Super Fans are people who make the active choice to support an artist.
Here’s my definition:
Super Fans are people who value the art of an artist and experiences through it to such a high degree that they are willing to substantially support the artist over a long period of time. They don’t donate. It’s an exchange of values.
Super Fans help artists out of four connected reasons:
- Super Fans want to continuously enjoy the experience of consuming products or services of the artist.
- Super Fans want the artist to be able to create independently and in authenticity.
- Super Fans want to take part in the ‘journey’ and the development of the artist.
- Super Fans want to express their gratitude and appreciation.
Behind this lies the awareness that art is of high value and that artists nowadays have a hard time to make a living. That’s why the support is also meant to improve the economic situation of the artist.
How do I get Super Fans?
Super Fans don’t exist per se. Super Fans are created. Yes, you can create Super Fans. It’s a process.
Before somebody becomes your Super Fan, he or she gets acquainted with you or your art. After that first contact it’s a process of relationship-building.
Ideally, during that process, the person gets convinced of your art. However there’s more to it than just your art. Your personality, your values and your life-style are important aspects, too.
Sometimes people are hooked right away. Sometimes the relationship-building process can take a long period of time (e.g. several months).
If your art is targeted at a niche market it’s actually easier to create Super Fans compared to a mainstream artist who tries to reach a wide audience. This is because there is a stronger bond right from the start between the niche artist and the niche audience. People belonging to a niche per se have more similarities and characteristics than people from a random mass.
The Super Fan Formula
The Super Fan Formula shows us, that we can earn a substantial amount of money from a modest number of fans. To earn a decent living doing what you love, it is not necessary to have millions of fans.
For artists who realize this for the first time, it can open up a new world of opportunities:
Super Fan Formula
———————– = 2.000
To generate an income of 100.000 EUR per year, an artist needs (only) 2.000 people that are willing to spend 50 EUR per year.
50 bucks deconstructed
How do you get to 50 EUR per fan annually? This is reachable. Let’s do some simple math with conservative numbers:
- One live concert per year: 1 x 15 EUR = 15 EUR
- Two online concerts per year: 2 x 10 EUR = 20 EUR
- One EP per year: 1 x 6 EUR = 6 EUR
- One Merch article per year: 1 x 10 EUR = 10 EUR
Total per year: 51 EUR
Would this be possible for you?
There is much more a musician can turn into cash. Especially if I look at the world of artist-fan-experiences. There are
- In-Person Experiences (e.g. pre-show meet & greet, activities together) and
- Online Experiences (e.g. Fan-Interview)
you can make use of in addition to what we mentioned above.
Consequently, you must give your audience the chance to experience you and your art in several ways. The same is true for the (technical) options you offer to get supported.
Make it possible, easy and fun for your fans to give something back to you. If you don’t provide people with the option to buy from you or experience you (e.g. via your website), how can those who love you support you?
Real world Examples – what unknown but smart musicians do
Here are two artists I know personally. Although they are not famous in a common sense, they enjoy spreading their talent. This also, because they are emotionally and financially supported by their Super Fans.
For this, they use a micro-crowdfunding platform to receive small amounts of money on a frequent basis from special people – their Super Fans.
Héllena is a Greek born Singer/Songwriter who decided to take a leap of faith and moved to the UK in 2011, now working on her debut album. She introduces herself as follows:
„Hello! I’m Héllena and I’m an artist. I am a London-based Singer/Songwriter, writing music mostly about freedom, independency, heartbreak, loneliness and personal growth. Despite struggling, like every artist, gradually a beautiful community is getting formed. We are the Héllraisers. Being a proud Héllraiser gives me strength to move on and keep on fighting for my dreams. You can help me create more music by becoming my Patron. You can start here with $1.“
Héllena currently has 48 supporters (patrons) of which she receives 419 USD (after removing fees and declined pledges) per creation. A creation can be an audio or video recording of a cover or an original song. But it could be something else, too.
On average she currently receives 8,72 USD per patron (Super Fan) per creation. A patron can support her starting from 1 USD up to 500 USD. Of course every Super Fan gets a reward back in return. It’s an exchange of values.
Héllena usually releases a creation on a monthly basis. So there’s an exchange of value that sums up to ca. 100 USD per Super Fan per year (8,72 x 12). If we project this number into the future we can see that Héllena could reach a yearly income of 100.000 USD with ca. 1.000 Super Fans.
Nate Maingard is a modern troubadour, storyteller, global nomad and indie-folk singer-songwriter.
Comparable to Héllena, Nate is one of the artists who really understand the power of give and take. He exchanges his folk music, nomadic adventures and love with his Super Fans.
On Patreon.com he writes:
„… there are no middle-men or corporate interests…just us, connecting and empowering positive change in the world! If this makes sense to you, then please pledge now.“
Let’s do some number crunching again: Nate currently has 236 patrons who reward him with 1.364 USD per month (not per creation). This is ca. 6 USD per Super Fan per month, or ca. 70 USD per Super Fan per year.
If we project this number into the future, Nate would reach a yearly income of 100.000 USD with ca. 1.400 Super Fans.
In the summer of 2015 Nate Maingard held an awesome workshop in Cologne, of which the Video recording is available now. In intense 72 minutes Nate reveals his strategy to grow his (Super) fanbase. If you are interested you can –> watch an extract right now here.
What can we learn from Héllena and Nate?
Let’s summarize a few key findings.
- You don’t need to be a Superstar to create a following. You can create a great following even if you start small. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the quality of the relationship with your fans. Touch people emotionally one by one, move them. Héllena and Nate Maingard are good role models in this regard.
- You don’t need to conquer the world. You don’t need to own millions of fans. If you want to reach an income of 100.000 USD, about 1.000 – 2.000 Super Fans can get you there.
- Not mentioned yet, but still important: Your art needs to be awesome. You need to stand out. Average is not enough. You don’t need to be in the top 1%. The top 10% are fine, if you have the character and the work ethics.
Final thoughts – how long does it take to get there?
One thing is for sure, this is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. It’s more than a 9 to 5 job, it’s hard work. You must have the right mindset. You need to be open, authentic and willing to share the ups and downs of your journey – at least with your growing Super Fan base
Let me get precise: If you do create ONE Super Fan EVERY SINGLE DAY, what would be the outcome in purely mathematical terms?
- It would take you ca. 33 month (2,7 years) to get to 1.000 Super Fans (1.000 / 365)
- If you aim for 2.000 Super Fans it would take you ca. 5,5 years (2.000 / 365)
This may sound easy and difficult at the same time. But don’t worry, you have 24 hours, day and night to transform a man or woman into a Super Fan 🙂
Seriously, if you start from zero today and you take the right steps and the right strategy, it may take you 2,5 – 5,5 years to get there. Is your passion worth this?
If you are a true musician, artist or creator, this is the most sustainable and rewarding way to go. Enjoy your journey!
Feel free to comment or share this article, thanks!
Links and references used in this article:
- Top Musicians on Facebook and Twitter
- Micro-crowdfunding platform Patreon
- Héllena on Patreon Héllena Website
- Nate Maingard on Patreon Nate Website
- Video Workshop 72 Minutes – How I’m building my tribe as a musicpreneur – Nate Maingard
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