Friday, April 11, 2008

My Lunch With Wooley

Had lunch with my friend John Wooley the other day. We talked about several subjects, but mainly the "1000 True Fans" concept (explanation here, rebuttal here). The concept in a nutshell is that in the online world, one does not need to be a superstar to make a living. One just needs 1000 true fans, people who like your work so much that they'll buy pretty much whatever you put out.

And while Scalzi's points are valid, I think that the concept is still pretty good. Because while Scalzi's point about true fans versus casual fans is certainly true, the inverse is also true: true fans introduce others to your work, and out of those, some might become at least casual fans and buy your stuff, too. In other words, you can't limit the worth of a true fan to what he spends out of his own pocket. Which is why things like Warners setting lawyers on the people making Buffy fansites was such a monumentally stupid decision.

I doubt Jonathan Coulton has people spending $100 a year on him, yet he has still managed to generate an online following of true fans, and that has translated into a living. Between his own online sales of his music, people booking him for shows, TV series licensing his songs, and commissions for original work (like the song he was commissioned to write for Portal), he's making a living doing what he loves, and that's what we all want, I think.

So I'm thinking about ways to do the same thing. I'll let you know if I figure anything out.

Oh yeah, we also discussed tomorrow's Out of the Vault. I thought I might intrigue Wooley with something he didn't know, but turns out he knew more about it than I did. Figures.

No comments: