Friday, October 10, 2008

Globalized Fan Base

How do you build a fan base when the hundreds or even thousands of people listening to your music are spread out across the world?

Have you ever seen that "Demand it!" widget on MySpace? Whenver I see this on a band's page that might have 10,000 'friends' and rack up a ton of plays, I usually see small tallies of people in many, many areas. This would make for a 150 date U.S. tour with an average draw of what, five people per gig? Even if there's a $20 cover and everyone buys two t-shirts and multiple copies of all of your CDs, you can't afford it!

This is something I've been trying to figure out. I don't really have the answer, but here's how I see the situation:

By looking at a site like, there are about 900 people that listen to my music with about 3,600 plays recorded. On, listeners are added up when either somebody with the software listens to one of my songs on their computer or somebody streams my song on the site. Whether a person listens to only one of my songs once, or plays all my music repeatedly, they still only count as one listener. Let's assume about half of these people stumbled across my music unintentionally, heard one track, but probably won't be repeated listeners. I can't consider them fans. That leaves about 450 listeners with maybe 3,000 plays, which is less than 7 plays per listener. There's a lot of room for error, so I'll just assume 100 of these people are actually fans. Sounds kind of bleak, but then again, do you use Most people don't, so it's a pretty narrow poll.

What's more important is that most people that use live outside the U.S., and the vast majority of my music sales are to people in this country. Plus I only really perform in New York City, so the fact there are 100 people around the world that are into my music is actually pretty cool. Really, the fact over 900 people have heard my music around the world is pretty cool. If I factor in all the music I've sold, I'm comfortable saying that worldwide, there's probably 1,000 people that are fans of my music. Probably more depending on how widely available my music is on P2P sites.

One reason the internet and all these social network sites are so great is that it allows me to interact with my fans in Chicago, Portland, Madison, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, not to mention London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo... should I go on? Even if there's just one person in Lynchburg, VA that bought my album, they have the same access to me as anyone else, with the exception of seeing live shows. Hopefully my new digital camcorder and YouTube will help change that.

It's difficult to nurture both the local scene, where I book and promote gigs, and also the global scene. I've sold more music in New York than any other single city, but it still makes up less than 10% of the total sales. So I can't ignore the bigger picture. It's just difficult to find the balance.

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