By Jim McCarthy Apr 2, 2012 0 comments

Everybody’s a Rock Star Somewhere

In 1968, Andy Warhol said that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. In 1979, Warhol claimed victory, saying he had been proven right, even the cable TV multiverse, the world wide web and reality shows were still either non-existent or nascent. Forget about tumblr, facebook, twitter and the rest of that stuff.

But it’s time to update that maxim. Yes, the “15 minutes” thing is still true, but it’s old news. The important idea now is that very few people are really, really famous anymore because there’s so much divergence in media consumption. Instead, everyone (well, a LOT of people) can be famous in a limited sense.

Rock stars are not what they used to be. You can have a number one hit song and walk down the street unrecognized, and with the two of three exceptions that are on the tip of your tongue, most of the musicians with hits are not particularly well-known. In the past, the 50 most famous rock stars (or pop stars or R&B stars or whatever) were Gods walking the Earth.

But that’s ok. Human scale is fine, don’t you think?

And this doesn’t just apply to rock music or music or even entertainment, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s limit it to that. ANY organization that delivers anything special or even just different can build a powerful, loyal following and be really meaningful to that group. This is why I am always talking about growing your core audience. And this is why I like the “1,000 true fans” philosophy, because even though I can’t vouch for the validity of the numbers, the idea is really sound.  There is a finite and reachable number of people who can support your ability to do your music, art, theatre, whatever and make you successful IF you go to the trouble of reaching them, enchanting them with your work (remember, they’re the one best suited to like what you do), cultivating a relationship and then taking care of them.

But here’s the good news and the bad news, whichever way you want to look at it: most people won’t do this, which leaves the field open for you.  They’ll do it the traditional way, using 20th century mass marketing (or the 21st century version of it, which is “dumb” online advertising), cultivating little more than an email list that they don’t really measure and they don’t really differentiate.  They’ll never check to see what works and what doesn’t beyond the most occasional and superficial evaluation of the results of their marketing choices or even content decisions.  They think “everybody” is their target market, and they have no idea how to talk about what’s special about their work.

Hell, the even better news for you is that they’re so lazy, they won’t even bother to make their work very special.  They’ll do something they think is “good enough” with occasional moments of inspiration and expect a mass audience to show up, the way they did in the second half of the 20th century.

But they won’t.

Everybody can be a rock star somewhere, but you’ve got to make the commitment, if you are to be a God walking the Earth, even if it’s just to a few thousand devoted disciples, to be worthy of such high praise.

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