Kevin Kelly outlines an interesting model for the survival of creatives through the capacity to harness the support of ‘1000 true fans’ from the flatline of the long tail. Kelly is editor-at-large at Wired magazine. The basic 1KTF model isa cultivation model of fandom. That is, the prmary goal is to work on the enthusiasm of 1000 true fans so they become active in the economic outcome of an artist’s work. The blockbuster/celebrity model is based on a passive saturation model.Two qualities of the 1KTF model:
1) A ‘true fan’ is a fan that will buy anything that an artist releases or publishes. Kelly argues that a true fan will spend one day’s income per year on buying whatever the artist produces. Say $100 per fan. That is $100,000.
2) The artist is required to maintain a ‘direct fan’ relationship with fans, which means having a direct if not personal relationship to fans. This requires using contemporary online and digital tools, such as RSS feeds and blogs to keep fans updated.
There is more to it, and Kelly has a number of examples on his blog, so go and check it out.
I guess I am a true fan of Max Barry. I read Syrup in about 4.5 hours after I had got it ordered in through Gleebooks. Jennifr Government and COmpany followed. Syrup is still my favourite though. I decided I liked Barry’s work after I worked the launch of Company at Gleebooks where he was in conversation with comic Will Anderson. I actually thought Barry was funnier than Anderson, mainly because Anderson seemed to have heaps of comedic set pieces and was always trying to esculate the humour into the faux rolling-in-the-ailes of commercial radio. Barry was much more understated, and yet savagely funny in his observations.
Sure I have bought all of Barry’s books and I subscribed to his (equally funny, and sometimes poignant) blog, but this doesn’t make me a true fan. I am a true fan because I buy Barry’s books as birthday and christmas presents and whenever someone starts talking about books I always talk Barry’s work up in conversation. I would’ve bought at least 5 other people copies of his books since ‘discovering’ his work last year. Of course, I don’t have a personal or direct relationship with Barry (or, at least, I bloody hope not!!) beyond his blog, and I think this is only required to pander to the collective ego of the more fanatic of fans. If Barry keeps on writing decent books, then that will be enough for me.