It's a mistake to think that all fans are the same. Some fans will spend way more money on you than others. It's way more profitable to give superfans premium content/attention/experiences than to try to get the masses to do something.
I've come up with a framework to think about the levels of fandom called David's Hierarchy of Leads:
- Casual Fans
- True Fans
Non-Fans are self-explanatory. They either don't know about you or don't like you. Your goal is to get people's attention with your music, YouTube content, etc so that they become Casual Fans.
Casual Fans are people who like you but aren't actively invested. Maybe they've saved a couple of your songs. Maybe if their friends are coming to your show they'll tag along, but really they don't care beyond the surface level. At this level, you'll get a few pennies from their streams, but it's foolish to spend your time and money to MONETIZE them at this point. Your goal should be nurturing them into True Fans via special content, talking to them after gigs, etc.
True Fans are the people that actively care about you. They will come to shows, buy merch, donate to your crowdfunding or Patreon. They want to see you succeed and will step up when there is an ask from you. But if you do your job well, they can graduate to Superfans.
Superfans are the truest of the True Fans. They will do ANYTHING for you. They will drive states away to see you. They'll donate $5000 to fund your next album. If they're well off, introduce you to their business network and help you get cool opportunities. They'll go to your fundraiser parties where there's no point other than to hang with other cool fans that care about you because they freakin' love you.
This isn't magical thinking. I developed this framework after spending a number of years on the road with The Talbott Brothers and witnessing this phenomenon firsthand. It freakin works. For instance, their last Indiegogo for an album, they asked for $35,000 but ended up with $60,000. This is 100% because they understand it's way more viable long-term to nurture fans into more serious fans rather than just chasing fame.
David Ryan Olson
Hey I'm David. I'm a mix engineer and I run Evergreen Records. Thanks for reading this article and feel free to contact us with any questions about persuing music that you have.