Idea: The True Fan Boost

Posted by Arlo on Aug 22, 2008 under Here's an Idea

The Long Tail
Six months or so ago, Kevin Kelly wrote about a concept he called “1000 True Fans.” The idea was fairly simple: Nowadays, an artist may be able to leverage the long tail of the Internet to earn a living wage with as little as 1000 fans. I recently read over the top twenty or thirty Google results for “1000 True Fans,” catching up on the discussion. Most were enthusiastic, some tempered, others critical.

I saw a lot of top-down approaches to the idea, where the burden was on the artist to leverage his or her own fans. I got to thinking: What about a bottom-up approach? How can we, the fans, lend a helping hand to the artists whose work we enjoy?

Maybe you’re like me; maybe you’re not a capital-T, capital-F, True Fan of any particular artist, but rather a regular fan of many. Maybe, also like me, you often feel guilty that you’re not supporting these artists as much as you could be. They provide all the stuff we really want for free: the web comics, the mp3s, the podcast videos. We know they’re trying to make ends meet with their T-shirt sales, CDs, and PayPal donation buttons, but we keep telling ourselves, “I really should buy that someday,” without ever spending the 3 minutes necessary to enter our credit card information.

I believe we could harness the power of web 2.0, trust linking, or whatever else you want to call it, to give a big financial boost to our favorite artists. At least one day a year, we set aside the time to make those well-intentioned, but forgotten purchases. I would call it Fan Appreciation Day, but that’s already in use (and has exactly the opposite meaning, at least in the sports world.) Therefore, I propose we call this the True Fan Boost.

Here’s how I envision it:

We designate a day where every fan is encouraged to buy at least one item from an artist (or artists) they appreciate.  Local, indie, or mainstream – doesn’t matter – any artist that’s appreciated. 

Each blogger that participates will write an entry on the designated date with the title “True Fan Boost 2008” outlining which artists they’ve financially contributed to. Disclosure of dollar amounts is unnecessary, but links to the artists’ sites are encouraged.

The following day, searches for “True Fan Boost 2008” will yield a wealth of new artists that the fans themselves have designated worthy of our hard-earned money. Trust linking takes over, and hopefully, many new artists will be given wider exposure.

And here’s the best part: Artists whose work we enjoy will hopefully notice a large uptick in sales on or around that date. Ideally it could become something they count on, year after year.

So, the question is… WHEN?

How about Labor Day? Yes, I know that that most people aren’t in front of their computers during work holidays, but that just means we’ll have a greater signal-to-noise ratio. (You need an excuse to flex your blog’s “post on date” muscles, anyway, right?) Furthermore, sales should stand out on a holiday and even the name “Labor Day” sort of fits.

So, what do you say? Think the idea has merit? Will you join me on Monday (or Tuesday, or Friday – the timing isn’t as critical as the payment) in distributing some of our hard earned wealth to people whose work we enjoy?  (Personally, I’m looking forward to dropping a couple hundred dollars on all the DVDs, CDs, T-Shirts, comics, and books I’ve been meaning to buy for months now. It’ll be like Christmas!)

If you’ve got a suggestion for improving the concept, I’d love to hear it. It goes without saying that this won’t be a success for any artist if I’m the only one that commits.  If you’re on board, consider helping spread the word.  Also, if you’re planning to make your own True Fan Boost 2008 blog entry, by all means, use the comments below to link to your blog – I’m happy to find more artists who deserve my money!  In the meantime, I’m going to write up and pre-post my own TFB’08 entry…