top of page
  • Lyle Burns

Know Your Audience: Core Fans vs. Casual Fans

At Noise Complaints, we feel that both internal and external awareness are part of the keys to success, which is why part of our strategy development includes completing a SWOT analysis, an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.

Internal and external awareness is also important in building a fanbase. It is important to understand why your fans are attracted to you, and furthermore, what’s attracting your core fans versus a casual fan. Understand what personal and creative qualities attract fans to you and what actions you are taking that are successful in developing a fan relationship to a point where they become an advocate.

If you are able to understand yourself and your fans better, you can grow yourself and your fanbase while converting more casual fans to core fans, a key element in monetization, which is discussed in our third book.

Before proceeding, I want to drive home another point. While understanding your fans and their likes and dislikes is important, it’s not our intention to have you use that information to pander to your fans or “flanderize” yourself, where one trait you have or one subject you address gains popularity and becomes all that you have to offer.

For example, if you make a love song and it becomes popular, we don’t want you to feel like you can only make love songs because that’s what you think the fans want, or that’s why they recognize you.

Instead, we want you to realize it’s a topic that you can explore more in the future and could see success, whether it’s as a song or another piece of content.

Core Fans Versus Casual Fans

Let’s be very clear, not every fan is going to be a core fan, nor do you need them to be.

In 2008, Kevin Kelly, author and former executive editor of Wired magazine, penned an essay called 1000 True Fans,” which is linked in the references section at the end of the book.

The idea of the essay is that artists only need 1000 true fans in order to make a living.

Kelly defines a true fan 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.”

He goes on to state that in order to acquire these true fans, you must engage with and convert your lesser fans.

This isn’t an exact science. 1000 isn’t an exact number of fans you need, and obviously there are other variables to consider, but the idea is still solid.

The idea of 1000 true fans works as a perfect anchoring point for understanding why audience segmentation is beneficial, and is a key ingredient for determining how to engage and galvanize your fan base to become true fans. If you can identify those true fans and the actions that drive them, you have a qualitative metric to drive marketing activities to create more true fans.

So how do you determine who is already a core fan and who are the casual fans that you should be working to turn into core fans?

The first step is creating meaningful interactions with your fans.

To do this, you must understand your fans. Many people will tell you to start with demographic information when analyzing your fan base and figuring out how to segment them.

Do that, and examine location, age, gender, education levels, etc.

It’s good information to have, and will be useful to know at times, but demographic information will only tell you so much; mainly WHO your audience is.

What you should be more concerned about is WHY your fans follow you.


This was an excerpt from The Noise Complaints Group’s 2nd ebook, Primer series: Music Marketing 101: Building a Fanbase. In this book artist can learn how to use content marketing to build their fanbase using practical strategies to begin building an army of loyal fans by using both digital and physical marketing tactics. To read the full book, visit our online store.

1,009 views0 comments
bottom of page