This morning I read an article called Beware of Fringe Fans: Appreciate Them, But Don't Let Them Distract You on MusicThinkTank. The gist of the article is that 'fringe fans' are not the author's "ideal customer. And while (he) welcomes suggestions and respects a diversity of ideas, (he) won't lose any sleep over" such fans. And the author, Bob Baker, goes on to advise musicians not to be distracted by them.
I couldn't disagree more with that thinking. Musicians, artists and anyone who produces, sells or puts out anything for other people, really should be paying attention to anyone who pays THEM attention.
I commented to that end on the original post and am going to repost it here because I think it needs to be said as much as possible otherwise we'll carry on fuelling the multitude of big-headed musicians, sports people and businessman that there is. Not to mention that anyone who wants to succeed in life really has to have a good way of selling themselves. (I'm not talking about pimping here!)
Basically, there's no such a thing as a fringe fan. A fan is a fan, however all of them have different thresholds to consuming your material. That threshold is dictated by things like;
- the quality of your output,
- money (I'd buy this song if it were xx cents),
- general availability of access to your output and a few other things I could come up with.
Generally, what the industry calls 'core fans' have a much lower threshold to consuming an artist's material than other fans. However 'fringe fans' also have a point at which they will consume your material. That point is just higher than that of your 'core fans'. That doesn't mean to say it can't be lowered at some time in the future. Let's face it, we all wish we had fans and customers whose consumption threshold was so low that they'd pay for our stuff no matter what!
For example, I could get a new, higher paying job and all of a sudden I'm able to buy albums having only heard 1 or 2 songs. Whereas, previously I may have had to think about every dollar I spend, my new, lower monetary threshold is now enabling me to consume that artist's music on a whim.
In my mind, just about anyone who is willing to spend their time consuming a musician's material is their fan. In using the word 'fan', I also include all those who attend gigs on corporate tickets! The press round on them, performers too and moreso the paying fans, however all considered they are as much of a fan as anyone. After all they're giving up their time, (out of their way to do it), after which it's an artist's job to LOWER that fan's consumption threshold. Remember time is money and I'm sure there are plenty of gigs you would not go to even if they were free.
The idea of consumption thresholds applies to all industries and funnily enough I believe banks do a great job playing the theory behind it very well!
In relation to your industry, the question would now be; Can you identify your fans' consumption threshold and where you can, is it economical (time or moneywise) to overcome any barriers that exist?