April 22, 2008

1000 True Fans Revisited

Kevin Kelly revisits his "1000 True Fans" hypothesis, in which he suggests that microniche artists could make a living from a limited fan base.

On his blog, he's beginning a series of interviews with artists who are using this very model, and the first one is ambient musican Robert Rich, who's been self-producing for 30 years. In his response, Rich tempers Kelly's enthusiasm with a hard dose of reality:

In reality the life of a "microcelebrity" resembles more the fate of Sisyphus, whose boulder rolls back down the mountain every time he reaches the summit. After every tour I feel exhausted but empowered by the thought that a few people really care a lot about this music. Yet, a few months later all is quiet again and CD/downoad sales slow down again. If I take the time to concentrate for a year on what I hope to be a breakthrough album, that time of silence widens out into a gaping hole and interest seems to fade. When I finally do release something that I feel to be a bold new direction, I manage only to sell it to the same 1,000 True Fans. The boulder sits back at the bottom of the mountain and it's time to start rolling it up again.

Hat tip to Sean for this one.

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