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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

5 Examples of Why Building a Fan Base is Important

I have recently come across the concept of "1,000 True Fans." I read about it in Seth Godin's book, Tribes, and his website (where he actually references this online article.To paraphrase, the concept is that once an artist (or small business professional, for that matter) has 1,000 True Fans, they are pretty set.

You may be wondering, "what's a "True Fan?"" From the online article:

"A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans."

This got me thinking about the idea of a fan base. Entertainment is riddled with examples of how, once you have a big enough fan base, you can do anything. No matter how awful, unneccessary, or lacking in artistic merit.

So here I present to you 5 examples of how, once you have a fan base, you can do anything:

1) Maximum Overdrive

A movie based on a short written by Stephen King, directed by Stephen King! By 1986, King was on top of the world between his novels and the movies based on his novels. He was huge. he could do no wrong! Until he tried hi hand at directing this dreck. To quote King himself, "I didn't get the job because I went to film school. I got the job because I'm Stephen King. If you become famous enough, they'll let you hang yourself in Times Square with live TV coverage." True dat. True dat.

2) The "Cavemen" TV Show

Production meeting:

Executive 1: "Ok, we need an idea for a TV show"
Executive 2: "Well, people seem to like those Caveman commercials from GEICO"
Executive 1: "Brilliant! We'll take a moderately funny 30 second idea and turn it into an entire season of 22 minute episodes!"
Executive 2: "I love it! If people like the commercials, they'll love the show! It practically writes itself!"
Executive 3: "Um, guys, don't you think this is a little ridiculous? How can we sustain a joke for half an hour that has already started to wear thin over 30 seconds??"
Executive 1 & 2 : "Shut Up! You're Fired!"

3) Party All the Time

In 1985, Eddie Murphy was riding high off of the success of Saturday Night Live, Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. And when you are generally considered the #1 comedic actor in the world at the time, what better way to capitalize on that success than by recording a song...? With Rick James producing...? A song that lyrically makes you sound like a giant wuss...? But once you've got a fan base, you can live out that dream of recording a song...

Three things are scary about this:

  1. The song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100
  2. This song is only one track on an album of 8(!) songs on the Eddie Murphy CD, "How Could It Be"
  3. I will listen to the song everytime it comes on, and love it!

4) Jesse "the Body" Ventura
Former professional wrestler turned governor of Minnesota! The man who once ended an arm wrestling match with Ivan Putski by pulling him across the table and whacking him with a steel chair became governor. Would you want this man:

As your governor??

5) From Justin to Kelly

The first season of American Idol was a smash hit and took the country by storm. Kelly and Justin were the two finalists, and so, in an attempt to squeeze every last dime from them after the show ended, the producers gave us "From Justin to Kelly." Yes, it was a movie starring the two Idol finalists. As you may have guessed, the movie was awful. Ok, maybe it was awful. I don't know, because I didn't see it, because I have a shred of intelligence. But Kelly and Justin had enough fans from Idol to justify attempting a movie. More correctly Kelly Clarkson had enough fans, as she still has an incredibly successful career. Meanwhile Justin has a job serving as Carrot Top's "hair double" on set...

It's a shame they didn't continue this tradition of making movies with the two finalists after the Idol season ended. How cool would that be? I would love to see a "From David to David" movie about the hijinks of David Cook and David Archuleta in Miama on Spring Break. It would be like this generation's Weekend at Bernies. Or "From Clay to Ruben" I'll let you insert your own punchline...

Of course, just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you *should* do something. But as these examples show, if you want to open up a world of possibilities to yourself, you should start building your fan base right now!

1 comment:

Craig L. said...

Ok thanks to being in the Best Improv comedy group in Philly, being in some award winning short films,having my songs played on the radio,and starring in my own one-man show, I've got about 36 fans.
You went to college so how many more fans do I need until I can start doin stupid stuff?
I know once I have enough yes-men in my life I will be truly happy.
Thank you