Audience Matters

Screen-shot-2010-10-25-at-9.23.39-PMOne of the most common discussions these days has to do with audience – what is your audience and who do you really want to reach? Is it about the pure number of impressions or impressions for the audience you want? Obviously this depends a great deal on your end goals. Sometimes what you want is ubiquity – people everywhere that know who you are. But more and more I find that having the right people believing in you will yield more of what you want than having the most people know who you are. You see, my good friend and mentor Steve Taylor just achieved an amazing feat. He is the director of the largest crowd-source-funded movie in history: Blue Like Jazz

When the project looked dead in the water a few fans of Steve’s and author Donald Miller jumped in to make a valiant last-ditch effort. One month later they have raised almost 3x the amount needed to get the film shot and underway, and hopefully proved to skittish investors that there is not just “an audience”, but a hyper-motivated, invested and loyal audience willing to make more history, and a successful film to boot.

Despite the book Blue LIke Jazz having sold a million copies, it is generally a niche phenomenon, not unlike the music of Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, The National or The Hold Steady. But fans of this book, and fans of the film’s director are a loyal and enthusiastic bunch. They care about the story, and they believe that it, in some way, reflects a part of themselves. And so in just under a month they have invested nearly $350,000 to see the story brought to life. And this is an investment that comes with no expectation (or legal ability to provide) a return. It is because they want to see this book come to life onscreen.

Full disclosure: I am one of the almost 4,500 who have given money to ensure that this film is made.

This does not happen by merely blanketing the available media space with messages asking for money. In fact, aside from an obscure blog, this effort has happened almost exclusively through social media and volunteer efforts. That is what happens when you have an idea, content or a vision that is compelling and an audience that won’t let something go.

There are plenty of sentiments that are well-known, but few that are believed. This effort is proof of how a true connection to the right audience will give an idea life far beyond what is conventionally expected.