Don’t Get Hooked: The Smallest Viable Audience
The other day, I wrote about owning your art and not getting hooked. You can read it here. But to appreciate that post, you need to come to terms that not everyone will be your audience. You need to find your Smallest Viable Audience (SVA)
What is a Smallest Viable Audience?
The Smallest Viable Audience is the smallest group that could possible sustain you for your work.
These people are attracted to you. Think of it like this, if you have the opportunity to select your audience what will you look out for? What worldview? What story? What energy, dreams? That is your smallest viable audience. The goal is to serve people like you.
While you might not have the opportunity to literally select your audience, you have the power to determine who you want your audience to be.
For instance, you can say, the only kind of people I want to work with are those who are long term oriented. Or I only want people that love slow, meaningful rhythm and blues.
Now, not that there is a manual you write stating who and what you want. No! This distinction is done by the art you make. When you sing, you are singing only slow and meaningful R&Bs and because that’s the promise you made and are doing, people who share that same worldview with you begin to come around.
The alternative is to seek the mass. Looking for a million followers, streams, etc. What you will end up making will be average. You know why? It is no true art! It is art done to please another.
Art done devoid of the need to please others is what true art is and that’s what your smallest Viable audience wants. Yes, you can be a musician and your SVA is 1000 people. That means a 1000 people love what you do. They will buy your music, stream your shows, come and watch you do your thing life!
That’s beautiful! There are no unnecessary expectations from both ends. It is you doing your thing and they enjoying you do your thing.
The good things about a SVA is that
1. They are actually not small. 1000 people paying you 10000 is a lot.
2. They are going to spread your story. According to the principle of Network effects, 1 person is said to bring in 10 persons. This means 1000 SVA has the potential of becoming 10000 SVA in no time.
I know you want to get rich quick. You want to have the numbers on your blog, social media skyrocket but the problem is you keep chasing it. You are never satisfied. What you have instead is that you are distracted from the art itself into something less important.
But if you have the SVA, you double down on the work you are doing, the art you are doing and help create more magic and better art. Hence building from down to up. Even when the numbers come, you are not worried because you did not chase after it. It came to meet you because of the work you have done or are doing.
The 50 people reading your post are all that matters. It doesn’t mean you are less of a creative. In fact, a creative is defined by the 1 person you are able to make better.
Focus on your art; the people will come.
Your goal is not to serve everybody. Your goal is to serve the right set of individuals – your SVA
You do not want to be the next Kardashian. You want to be the next you!
You want followers (not social media following) not just fans.
Find your Smallest Viable Audience