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In Defense of 1,000 True Fans

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Despite being published back in 2008, the concepts in the article 1,000 True Fans are still true today. Musicians today can be independent and successful, but you can’t wait around and hope for some big time success to just hit you in the face. You need to take the time and really build up a strong group of people who really believe in you and your music, and that group doesn’t need to be as large as you may think. 1,000 true fans is all it takes to be able to live the life in music you deserve!

If you haven’t given 1,000 True Fans a read through yet, be sure to check it out. However, sometimes big ideas and theories can be difficult to grasp and apply to your own career, so here’s an interview with Cyber PR campaigns manager Andrew Salmon (@andrewgsalmon) and Canadian singer-songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto so you can see how the 1,000 true fans model is working for a real indie artist.

Andrew Salmon: How long have you been an active musician for? You’ve been making music and performing for a long time, but do you think there was a defining moment when you became officially “active”?

Robyn Dell’Unto: I played through high school but tried VERY hard to stop as I made my way into university [McMaster University]; I wanted to be a psychologist or something else really respectable to grown ups. But the local music scene in Hamilton, Ontario was so incredibly conducive to collaborating, getting on stage, just being around other musicians, and I cracked pretty quickly. There were so many talented people just hanging around town, and great music venues. I got hooked, started playing a bunch, recording singles here and there. I moved to Toronto after graduating, and about a year later I entered this competition with a local independent record label, and “won” a record contract. I felt sort of validated by that, because out of nowhere I suddenly had funds and support. While I’m loving running my own show these days, I’m so appreciative of that experience.

AS: What would you estimate your percentage breakdown of music-related income to be?
– Shows
– House shows / club shows
– Music sales / streaming
– Publishing / sync licensing

RDU:
– Shows (including house/corporate/public venue/college): 30%
– Music sales: 5% (ha!!)
– Publishing/licensing (including residual royalties): 40%
– Other (workshops via my songwriting program A Song Of My Own): 25%

AS: You have a strong presence on Twitter, and you clearly have a special bond with your fans in this space. How have you gone about building your tribe?

RDU: Ha! I didn’t realize I had a tribe. Could I please be called Chief? Twitter is fun and direct and I guess I just try to be myself while putting info out there as much as possible. I’ve gained a few real fantastic fans through licensing and touring, and I find people stick with you if you’re responsive, or a bit funny, or just generally not a dick. Everybody’s in love with music, and it’s incredible to think that someone could be in love with yours.

AS: How would you say you’ve been able to win your fans over? What additional value do you bring to the table in terms of your relationship to your fans beyond the music?

RDU: Hmm…I guess I’d have to ask them. I really like posting photos, and I think people like to see what’s happening behind the scenes. I like posting ridiculous photos of animals, particularly pugs, they’re just so damn ugly and everybody love-hates them. People send me links to fantastic ugly pug pictures and I’m always extremely grateful. I talk about food a bit… who doesn’t love food, right? I’ve had a few proposals, which I’ve been receptive to. Nothing wrong with that. I LOVE getting cover-performance videos of my songs, and try to always repost them. I recently saw a sign language performance of my song ‘Astronaut’ on YouTube. It made me weep. Like, honestly weep. That was awesome.

Robyn Dell’Unto’s sophmore record “Little Lines” is available now! Learn more about Robyn on her website and follow her on Twitter here.

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