In August 2005, Jonathan Coulton quit his job as a software developer, with the goal of conducting an experiment: over the next year, could he figure out a way to earn a living as a full-time musician, leveraging the Web and his small-but-passionate fan base?

Coulton isn’t the only artist who is trying to come up with new ways of cultivating an audience and making a living in a post-label, post-studio, post-publisher world, where big advances and development deals are essentially a thing of the past for emerging talent. For my new book Fans, Friends & Followers, I spoke with thirty filmmakers, musicians, writers and comedians who’ve been developing new strategies for building a fan base that can support the work they want to do. Many of their strategies would be equally effective for businesses trying to generate buzz and attract loyal customers – without an enormous marketing budget.

Coulton, for instance, has discovered that by giving his fans an opportunity to collaborate with him, they’re more likely to feel like active, engaged supporters – more likely to purchase CDs, merchandise, downloads, and concert tickets.

Here are just three of the ways Coulton has invited his followers to get involved with his career, each of which could be applied by many kinds of businesses. …read more at Customer Strategy Tips from an Indie Rocker – Harvard Business Publishing, published 17 April 2009.

Photo credit: Dale May Photography