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23 April, 2008

1,000 'true fans' (an answer)

Last month, I linked to an article by Kevin Kelly in which he discussed the premise that an independent artist could survive on income from 1,000 'true fans' who'll buy everything the artist releases.

Kelly went on to ask an independent artist who does operate much this way, ambient musician Robert Rich, for his views. The result is a fairly long but interesting response.

In short: maybe, but it's not easy and there are problems. I was particularly interested by Rich's comments about artistic insularity – without the breadth of inputs from 'mainstream' distributors, he would never have become the artist he is, and if he felt obliged to satisfy the preconceptions of his 'true fans' in the interests of a secure income (he doesn't, but others in a similar situation might feel the temptation), his work could stagnate.

It may be worth mentioning that Rich became self-publishing well before the internet became available. I wonder whether a career more closely integrated with modern promotion & distribution methods at the 'formative' stages would be comparible.

[Via BoingBoing again.

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