1KTF model of fan economies

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.

7 replies on “1KTF model of fan economies”

  1. I am sure Nancy Baym (author of the Fan Cultures blog) has written about this. Here’s an interesting, pragmatic guide to what music fans want/need from their relationship with the object of their fandom. There was lots of talk of true fandom surrounding the Radiohead In Rainbows giveaway last year – were the “true” fans the ones who will still spend money on their fandom even when they don’t have to?

    I am self-interested so I wonder how it works with media – is a “true fan” someone who returns to the site, or buys the magazine, regularly, without looking for anything specific? Does the tone of the publication or site create the personal relationship? What does it take to attract these loyal readers/viewers?

  2. radiohead story is very interesting. they have produced a layered or tiered system, including 2500 limited edition $350 releases that sold out in 3 days, and other less limited for cheper and so on.

    i’ll send you my diss, mel, when it has the typos corrected for the library submission because i talk about magazines and stuff. i think you’ll like it!! if fandom is less a state and more thought of as an event or process distributed across the fan, fan-object, practices and institutions (including media, such as magazines), then some people participate more or less extensively and intensively (enthusiasm) in the event of fandom, ie the ‘happening’ of the fan scene.

  3. ha! thanks for dropping by.

    well from the five people I’ve bought books for i’ve reproduced the Barry-fan dimension of myself Raw-Shark-Texts style in the subjectivities of at least 3 of them. 996 to go.

  4. Glen,

    I think you’ll find that the ‘tiered system’ you mention in the comment above actually refers to Nine Inch Nails, who took the original Radiohead model (which was tiered, but only into two – mp3s for whatever you like, and ‘discbox’ for 40 pounds) and grafted extra options onto it. Reznor had like five different ‘entry’ points for the music. Divide and conquer…

  5. ahh, thanks for the clarification lawson

    I like the colour scheme on your blog! reminds me of my old colour scheme when I was on blogspot and then when I initially moved to here. I so need to sort out this stupid blog design I have at the moment.

  6. Talk about contingency and chance events.

    I’ve had a copy of Jennifer Government sitting in my “to read” pile of books (which hasn’t been touched for well over six months) for longer than I can remember. Having read through the front page of posts on Barry’s blog, though, I think I’m going to havee to dig it out, so that when I next have time in my life to read (i.e. in a few years’ time) it can be waiting for me at the top of the pile.

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