The Ten Of Ten Rule

I have said for a very long time now, that when it comes to all things music, music business and music fandom, the 10 of 10 principal applies. Not terribly complicated, I postulated that in any music situation — strategy, marketing, fan engagement — you are more likely going to find ten percent of the ten percent of whatever you think exists, really exists.

Take one hundred fans at your next concert. Not a staggering crowd but a healthy draw at most indie rock venues. Of those 100 “fans” in attendance, you are more likely looking at 10 that are engaged and ONE willing to take the next step. The next step? Become a fan that is willing to open their heart, mind and wallet. What about the rest of those bodies? Sightseers, hanger-on types, friends tagging along and hipsters. None of which makes up a demographic that provides real support to a new band or songwriter trying to make a living in music.

Of course, there are going to be those that say, WE do better than that by a mile! But, I’d ask those of you choking right now, didn’t you put in serious time to cultivate a following already? How long? How much work?

My metrics address the notion that a new band, or even bands/artists out of circulation, are more likely to find it more difficult than ever to acquire fans willing to buy something. Which is exactly the reason we have so many debates going on about monetizing the experience rather than the music. If you don’t tour, what experience does your fan get from the music? If you do tour, what experience are you delivering at each gig? Monetize THAT experience. Not the simplest task, mind you, but one most have recognized is Job One.

What works best you ask?

Is MySpace the old vehicle and Twitter the new cargo transport of choice? Is Facebook teetering? Is The Cloud the ultimate iPod, at last, and the browser the iTunes replacement? I’d say YES to all of these questions with an eventually tacked on at the end.

Some argue a blog beats a website and that the internet is everywhere. But, last I checked, electricity was NOT free and the global economic reality has not improved much, if at all. Kill the electricity and The New Age of Music starts to look more like something out of the American Old West. Hand to hand and mouth to mouth, bartering your art for, what, a sack of oranges?

Let’s hope the new metrics don’t need recalibration due to the collapse of our economy. Should things get worse, new fans will be scarce. Most bands and songwriters provide music services that offer little beyond recreational escapism. When is the last time Bloc Party raked your leaves or Animal Collective fixed your leaky roof?

Not to preach gloom & doom but the reality is pretty clear: most are NOT doing as well as they’d hoped at this point. This will eventually trickle down to most artists trying to make headway with their art. The sooner you recalibrate your metrics and identify a casual fan from someone engaged in a deeper way, the better you will do in this new music paradigm.

And, IF music is  FREE, is there any way to make a living creating it? Should there be? Until we answer THAT question and provide reasons that can be monetized, Ten Of Ten is the truth, for now.

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