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What if your Band only had One Fan?

(Hi, I’m Chris Seth Jackson from How To Run A Band. This is my Music Think Tank thought experiment!)

The following post is just a thought experiment. These concepts just keep popping up in my mind, and I can’t let them go. There’s something there in these thoughts. I’m not quite sure what, but I thought I’d share because I know you are smarter than me and will figure it out. So let’s play a game…

What if there was only one fan?

You walk into a club. It’s dark and really quiet. Peering in the darkness, you realize there is one person standing there. As you approach, you suddenly know this is the only person on the earth who will ever like your music.

You can see them clearly, now. They have no idea who you are, what your music sounds like, or even that you are a musician. You notice you two have been looking at each other, but no one has said a word yet. You feel a bit awkward, so you…

Shove your CD into their face and yell, “Check out my new album! Get my fan count up to 1! Whooo!” You pull a picture out of your pocket and put it in front of their face, “This is my show! Join it!”

After your outburst, you run off into a corner all of a sudden. Not saying a word. The mystery person is left baffled and slowly starts to walk out of this club with the raving lunatic.


What? That’s not how you’d act? Well, what would you really do? Would you start a conversation and get to know the mystery person? See what they’re into? Maybe find out why you’re in this weird, dark club together and maybe see if there’s free alcohol to be had?


The scene suddenly changes. The lights go dim again, and the mystery, potential fan is gone. A new stranger appears holding a box. He comes uncomfortably close to you and says, “Buy this box!” You are completely freaked out and start looking out of the corner of your eye for something to defend yourself with. As he pushes the box at you, he starts yelling “LIKE ME!” You fall backwards.

And the club is empty again. Who the hell was that? What kind of insane individual would run around yelling “LIKE ME” and trying to make me buy a box of something I have no clue what’s inside?

What if the live show was dead?

You wake up. You’re not quite sure how you left that club and ended up in bed. The TV switches on by itself, and you bolt straight up in bed.

You get up to see what’s going on. The news is on with the headline “No More Live Music”.  The newscaster says all live music venues have either shut down or now only do karaoke and digital juke boxes. They interview a club owner, “Yeah, people don’t want to hear any more crap. The bands just chase away customers.”

You look out the window and see musicians wandering around aimlessly, dazed. Except for the drummers who always look this way, you are shocked by the scene.

What do you do now? What if all conventional live music venues were cut off from you? What if you had to work outside the normal ways of playing your music and getting the word out for your band?

You go to your computer to find out more. Oddly, you notice some musicians playing music online. You watch for a little bit. Then, you hear something outside. You go back to your window and see some of those dazed musicians setting up on the corner and playing. Your phone buzzes. You’re getting a text to go to a house and see a band…in a living room.

What the hell is going on? What are you going to do? Is live music really dead? You eyeball your computer. “Is there more to live music than what I think is really possible? I’m so used to the way all bands are doing it. Is there a different way this can be done?”

What if no fame or money was to be had?

With the collapse of live music, major labels all shut down. They no longer have any 360 deals. They no longer have money to pay the lawyers to sue 12 year old pirates. The whole major label system collapses.

All avenues of becoming famous and wealthy off of music have just ended.

You collapse back into your chair and stare at the ceiling. That’s the thing you were hoping for. To make IT. To live the dream of being a rock star. Gone. Done. Dead.

Do you still love music? Would you still play music? Would you still spend hours learning your instrument?

Would you give up? All traditional means of making money as a musician have dried up. No more arena tours, groupies, and crazy drug frenzies to get you on the news.

Does music still matter to you? Or was it just the image of music?

Something clicks in your mind. You get out of the chair. You open the door and walk outside.


Relax. This was just a thought experiment. Major labels still take all your money, clubs are still dingy with bad sound, and there’s at least two people who like your band. These are just three questions popping around my head, especially considering the amount of technology and the changing landscape of the music business.

If you want to shake off the weirdness of the above tale, visit How To Run A Band. But take a second to think about these things. How do you treat your fans? Do you really love music for music’s sake? Are the traditional ways of getting noticed the only way of doing so nowadays?



Reader Comments (10)

Thank you for posting this, Music Think Tank! I love you!

This post is exceptional even for for this blog.
I like the places where you've headed us to. Thanks for the tour.

June 19 | Unregistered CommenterVospi

I loved the journey. and how the story was told. was thought provoking.



@Vospi Thank you!

I like the thought experiment, especially with the bit of pestering someone to like your music before you even present the music to them. I've been known to introduce people to my music to get their REAL ideas on the song without it being tainted by doing the following:
Riding in a car with someone, I have a custom playlist on my iPod, different bands, one of my songs in the middle of it, and casually bring the song to their attention, or simply see if they look like they're getting into it. If they are, ask them what they like about it, and don't reveal that you created the music until they're done. You won't get any white lies this way.

I think the reason why a lot of musicians want to "make it" is that they can quit the day job and only work on music. This is quite an awesome dream, but where are you going to get your inspiration from? Every musician should have something they do other than music to keep them rooted in reality at least in some small way.

Even if nobody like my music but me, oh well. I enjoy it. When I've completed a song that I like, and I'm excited to listen to it, or I'm halfway done, and excited to hear "the rest of it," that's what matters. However, I DO get excited when others get excited about my music, and it makes me very happy when I see other people dance, jam, nod their head, smile, etc to my music. I make music for myself, but I really want to motivate and excite others as well.

June 19 | Unregistered CommenterDurandal

@Durandal The music sneak attack! I like it! Honestly, that's why I love and Pandora. If people like your music, they will rate it. Also, YouTube is great because people will pull ZERO punches when it comes to rating your music video!

And you save gas money. ;)

To address your "make it" remark. There's still a large number of bands that actually want the fame and fortune. If bands only wanted to quit their day job, they would be running their band like a business instead of focusing on "getting signed".

And, I see where you're coming from about being rooted in reality with a day job. However, I don't think you need a day job to do that. If you could do something that lets you travel the world and meet a ton of people, I think that would fundamentally change your music.

Hell yeah about being excited about music! It makes my day when someone listens to one of my songs and genuinely digs it! I love the vibe of the crowd when my music hits them just right. There is nothing else like it on the planet. I love it when a new tune sticks in my head and will not let me sleep until I write it. Pure happiness!

Making music is like any other job or business out there. It has to sustain itself. Something (or someone) has to pay for the time and resources you're putting into it. If you don't think your music is worth investing in then find another job. It's not about being famous or not being famous.

June 20 | Unregistered CommenterBoyé

Very funny! and useful. Especially the Only One Fan idea. Thank you for sharing. Chris, I'm looking forward to reading your other content.

June 21 | Unregistered CommenterElyse Miller

Excellent stuff; thought-provoking.
More thought-experiments please Chris.

June 24 | Unregistered Commenterdaz nez

Absolutely brilliant Chris. It really makes people think and I laughed out loud at some of that, especially the bit about the drummers!

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