As an independent hip hop artist, you can often find it easy to dismiss important music principles and programs. It’s easy to see why, too; many people find it hard to pay attention to these standard principles.

Plus you’re too busy with the daily grind of your music career: making the music, promoting and marketing, booking tours and live shows, building a fanbase, etc.

Given a lot of music principles are built around group-based and record deal-based artists, too, it can be tough to summon the desire to really care about what is being said in the first place!

With that in mind, then, it’s important that you pay attention to one particular principle. That is commonly known as the 1,000 True Fans Principle, and is one of the most tried, tested and trusted platforms in the music industry today.

Even for an independent artist who finds it hard to connect with and believe in the message of the 1,000 True Fans Principle, this is very important to learn.

Indeed, done right you can find that this helps to make a wholesale change to the way that you plan out and prepare for the future of your entire music career. If you are serious about making genuine change, then you should absolutely look to understand this principle.

What is the 1,000 True Fans Principle?

If you haven’t heard about the 1,000 true fans principle, then you should definitely head on over to Kevin Kelly’s blog post and have a read. It’s a great read whether you’re an artist or not.

Basically, the concept is simple. Rather than needing millions of listeners who listen to your stuff, you can do much better by having a small but hardcore support. You don’t need the millions that many of us set out to try and make a success for ourselves as artists.

Instead, you need what the 1,000 True Fans Principle is all about – 1,000 fans who genuinely care about and love the music that you make and the message that you represent.

Why does this matter? Because it’s much easier to sell to a ‘true’ fan. They will likely happily make an investment in just about anything that you produce, and will be happy to go the extra mile to see you.

They will travel out of state to go to one of your gigs, and they will do everything that they can to just be closer to you and be part of what you stand for. That’s very important, and their loyalty usually manifests itself in the form of investment in all the things that you do.

For that reason, you want more ‘true’ fans than just people who give you a quick listen on streaming software before moving on. You want the ones who are happy to pay for the stuff that you normally would be producing for free; you want the fans who genuinely believe in everything that you stand for and the message that you produce on a daily basis.

It’s easy to see why having people like this around your music future would make a lot of sense; they often tend to make it much easier for you to drive that sense of happiness and togetherness in the long run.

They also make it easy for you to profit long-term, basically.

Finding 1,000 True Fans

So, the challenging part of the 1,000 True Fans Principle is making those fans come to life. You need to be able to earn around $100 in profit from each of your ‘true’ fans on a yearly basis; if you have around 1,000 of them, that adds up to quite a lot of money.

While this is obviously hard to do, it comes with the added benefit of making it much easier for you to make telling profits that you can count on, instead of the boom and bust economics that many artists live by.

For that reason, we recommend that you take a look at the concept of trying to give your current fans even more value. Instead of chasing a new tranche of short-term fans who might just move on once the hype dies down, concentrate instead on pushing to promote more to the fans that you already have.

The reason why you should do this is because you form a genuine relationship with these people. With just 1,000 ‘true’ fans and that $100 profit margin per year, you could be sitting pretty with $100,000 in the bank per annum. While it might not make you Nas, it’s not a bad start for an independent hip hop artist looking to build a future for themselves, right?

Applying the 1,000 True Fans Principle to your music

Well, for one, it’s much easier to make a genuine influence on 1,000 lives than a negligible influence on 1,000,000 lives. Right? It’s much easier for you to be able to try and get a thousand or so loyal, regularly paying fans to come to your gigs.

It’s less realistic to expect that you can get millions of people in this kind of brand-loyal, buying mood. So, the 1,000 True Fans Principle is one that should ground you in a sense of realism: to chase an achievable dream instead of the impossible dream.

If you choose to do this, then you can massively benefit for years to come. Not only should you find it easier to apply the 1,000 True Fans Principle if you are sticking to a genuine ambition, but it makes it easier to refine your form.

For example, trying to appeal to millions usually means creating wishy-washy, generic music that comes with the kind of lifeless content and merch to boot.

If you are aiming yourself at a smaller group of people who have a very specific set of interests, you can be more diverse. People rarely invest money into the artist who tries to be something for everyone.

If you stand up and be counted taking on specific issues with passion, though, you’ll generate a smaller but more loyal crowd.

And believe us, it’s easier to build up and maintain a loyal following of 1,000 who can keep you in good financial health than try to be something for every one of the millions.

With the 1,000 True Fans Principle, you get to build a fanbase without having to sell out your purpose in a bid to appeal to the many.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.