The Reality of Depending on True Fans

I have been researching new business models for artists working in the low end of the long tail. How can one make a living in a micro-niche? Is it even possible, particularly in this realm of no-cost copies? I proposed the idea of artists directly cultivating 1000 True Fans, which I wrote up in a previous post. It was a nice thesis that got a lot of blog-attention, but it was short on actual data. I solicited real numbers from those who wrote me, and I also sought out others who had a reputation for thriving on a dedicated fan base, and asked them to share their experiences.