Why Don’t You Care About Me: The Vocal Minority, and Members vs. Non-Members

A couple weeks ago, the following message caught my eye on Twitter:

“LPUers r ‘First class fans’ cause they fuckin pay.the other fans r nothing to you,cause we dont pay,huh?PISSED OFF! @linkinpark @m_shinoda”

Quick recap: LPU is the Linkin Park fan organization. It costs $60 for a year-long membership. The details of what you get with membership are listed here. I assume the “first class fan” part was in reference to a comment the band made at some point. This person appears to be very (10 out of 10) upset.

It’s sometimes hard to read the nuances of intended emotion in a typed blog post, so I’ll be very clear that I’m not angry, nor do I feel defensive as I write this. I’m calmly sitting in a hotel room on tour, with a cup of coffee and a couple pieces of toast. And this tweet got me thinking about something that’s bigger than the “who is the best fan” question.

So, let’s answer the tweet!

Which fan is most important? Is it the one who buys the most stuff? The one who supports their “thing” the loudest? The one who cares more deeply than the rest? The one who has been loyal the longest? And specifically online, why in the world do people seem to fight over this subject so passionately?

A fan club can simultaneously be a very unifying and a distinctly divisive subject: while it offers an incredible community and amazing opportunities, it also separates people into “members” versus “non-members.” To start, a fan club is an option…unless you’re in the band (ha!).

For me, opting-in on a club means that I choose that club as important to me (at least, important enough to spend time and money on). Conversely, opting-out really means I have no right to demand the same benefits as members. The people who join are paying for products and service. Those things cost money to create, therefore the club has a cost.

(Speaking of cost, the “money” argument is always a favorite. Some will try to levy an argument that an organization like LPU gives preferential treatment to fans because the band “cares more about people who give them more money.” For us, this is a thin, baseless argument. We make no money from LPU. Every dollar of money spent on LPU goes directly back into the organization. Case closed.)

“First Class” implies that you give extra to get extra. We call LPU the “inner circle” because of it allows closer proximity to the band (our “Summit” conventions and video chats, for example). Can non-LPU members get those kinds of experiences? Yes: if Chester were to cross paths with a fan on the street, for example, he could sign an autograph and take a picture. But the LPU is an organization which helps to set those experiences up for you, so you’ll have a much higher (maybe from 10,000 to 1,000,000s+ times higher) percent chance of it happening.

“Whatever, I don’t have the money to be a member. This fan club sucks!”

In the world, sometimes we forget that there is a constant give-and-take between “what you give” in exchange for “what you get.” At a clothing store, you may give money to get something to wear. In the garden, you may give time and care to get food. In a relationship, you may give love and commitment to get a caring partner. If one side of any of these equations fails to provide their part, the whole thing falls apart (or, in one case, someone gets arrested for shoplifting).

And yet, some people want to get without having to give. Looking online, you would think it’s a large group. But it’s not. Not even close. For example: of the thirty-one million people who follow Linkin Park on Facebook, about three ten-thousandths of a percent (0.0003%) of those people belong to LPU. And only a fraction of that tiny number actually participate in this conversation.

But somehow, in comments and reviews online, that tiny group manages to make it look like a major debate. How does that work?

I was informed by management that our latest album “A Thousand Suns” was the #2 best selling rock album in the world last year (congrats to Mumford and Sons, who were #1!). But if you read the iTunes reviews of “A Thousand Suns,” you wouldn’t have guessed it: the album has a 3 out of 5 star rating, and lots of negative comments. Meanwhile, contented Linkin Park fans continue to buy the album. They cheer the band at our shows, “like” us on Facebook, and support us in a myriad other ways. But not in fan reviews. Why?

Studies such as this one, conducted by the Warsaw University of Technology, found that people are more inclined to comment online if they have negative feelings about something. Contented people will not comment, discontented people will complain. And the negative thread is likely to grow longer and more extreme if the subject: a.) is opinion-based, b.) is emotional content, and/or c.) has a large following or draw. (For us: check, check, check…) Plus, adding the separation by the computer screen, people feel emboldened to speak freely and sometimes in a more exaggerated fashion.

I’m not dismissing the vocal minority. Clearly, opinions can be useful and helpful: productive comments have helped us build a great www.linkinpark.com and the LP Underground itself. If we didn’t believe in the opinions of the few, we wouldn’t have posted this poll last week.

And at the same time, we remember that protesters make a lot more noise than anyone else. When we see negative comments and bad reviews, it’s easy to think that “lots of people” think the same way, because the complainers are sometimes the only ones talking.

In the piece here, Theodore Dalrymple writes: “The habit of not containing your rage is likely to lead you to easily provoked enragement. And, as almost everyone knows who has taken the trouble of self-examination, there is a great deal of pleasure to be had from rage, especially when it supposes itself to be in a righteous cause.” Hate begets hate. Being angry can feel good, especially when you think you’re right.

And as people write more negative comments, they actually feel more negative, more often. Scary.

I have used the term “super fan” here on my blog. When I do, I think try to make a point to include LPU members and those who have decided LPU is not for them–I’m referring to anyone who considers themselves a big fan of the band. I use this distinction to indicate that the people I’m talking to are the ones willing to put in extra work in some form or another.

And in the most general terms, when I talk about fans of Linkin Park, I mean to include anyone, whether you own everything our band has ever released + come to 100 concerts, or if you’ve never spent a dollar, and you just like one song. In other words, if you think you’re a fan, then you are a fan.

If you’ve read this post and thought, “I don’t want to feel more negative, more often,” I commend and admire you.

To the rest: your debate can continue below.

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Comment by Jackie May on June 30, 2011 at 1:22pm
Hey i just read this blog, and i think its so sad as many who have already commented, that people need to be so negative. they should be glad that we have you guys and listen to the amazing creativeness that you exert. im not an LPU member....i have considered it many times but not yet joined. i dont think it makes you any less of a fan if you dont join, but i agree that the LPU members get more because they pay to be part of the group. as ive read somewhere the money from the membership goes straight back to the fans ...you give a little...you get a little :) ive been a fan since the beginning and only recently bought A thousand suns...i dont want to turn this into a review..but i was quite surprised by it...i would have liked to hear more heavy guitar on the album but otherwise it was quite pleasing to listen to...it kind of reminded me of a movie soundtrack by the way it has been arranged. just one thing..and i say this without trying to sound negative and you guys probably wont read this anyhow but i did notice on the album that sometimes it was very close to a crossing the line into territory which i hope you guys wont turn to, i know you're experimenting and exploring your creativeness but i beg you..i am actually pleading with you here...please for the love of god do not go dubstep...i may actually cry. :( hate is such a strong word but i really despise the genre its just vomit inducing noise and i hated it when korn used a sample and i hope that you guys will not cross that line..i may just lose respect for you completely...well..maybe, i love you guys too much ;) ...but please dont :P
Comment by Diego Burgos on June 30, 2011 at 1:18pm
Truer words have never been said. It's not about buying their stuff or going to their concerts. Anybody can, for example, get an LP shirt for Christmas and not even know who LP is. But in the end, being a fan is about opinion. True, I don't buy a lot of LP or LPU merchandise, but that doesn't mean I'm not a fan. And therefore, being a music fan isn't about buying merchandise. You love what they do, or as Mike so eloquently put it, "If you think you're a fan, you're a fan". Nuff said.
Comment by Viki Nemeth on June 30, 2011 at 1:16pm

I read these comments and I started to think...

I love LP since Papercut came out. I am a member of LPU since November 2010 because I was always reading LP.com and I heard about LPU but I didn't know if I really want to be a member. But then Mike announced the first ever LPU Summit in London and I already had the ticket for the gig and I was like if I spend this little extra money then I can defo see the guys and get autographs. This was enough motivation for me to put in just that little bit of extra. I met not only the band but a bunch of beautiful people, we are still in contact with each other, we meet up, we chat. LPU is not only about Linkin Park. It's a club which gathers people who like Linkin Park but we also discuss about different music and different other things as well. We are there supporting LP and supporting each other. It's an amazing community which haven't let me down since I joined in. I saw Mike, Joe Hanh, Phoenix, Rob on LPU chats, Mike always surprises us just to check in and chat with us, just to give us an update about tour, album, whatever the guys are up to. It really worth it! And now we can download for free the LPU TV episodes which is absolutely fantastic. Tell me just one other way you can be more connected with a band, or another band who makes so much effort to try and be in contact with their 31M fans (which is a WOW number). So summing up: does it worth being an LPU member and pay the annual 60USD? For me and the other thousands of LPU member yes. Because it gives us opportunity to see them even online and be more connected to them. And for the record for the comment by Tom James. It doesn't worth for you because LP never goes to India...LP has never been in Hungary and they don't schedule shows there however there is a small group of Hungarian fans even here on LP.com. But I still pay in the annual fee and I don't regret my decision because you never know when LP will end up in your country...:)

This is only my opinion of course but LP gave me more than took me, and I have a serious obsession about the give-and-take circle so I like to know I give back something to the band with this. And with MFR! It's so many channels you can contact the guys if you really willing to and it's good for your Karma as well :)

Anyways I just wanted to give some positive feedback not only the negative :)

Take care and may Linkin Park always be with us! Peace!

Comment by Nikhil Shankar on June 30, 2011 at 10:43am
To say the least, well written Mike. This is one of the most powerful and realistic responses that I have ever read. You rarely find someone who is willing to find a calm and composed nature in the face of such negative emotions. I find it comforting that the members of linkin park care about the minority, and that such comments ignite a spark, because it shows that you care. I am an aspiring musician, and I hope that if I ever make it to a position anywhere near yours, that I still have the dignity and composure as you do. Rock on!
Comment by VeronikaS on June 30, 2011 at 10:37am

Hi there,

first of all I have to admit that I am surprised by how many fans LP has....there are supporting you (I mean you,Mike, and all the guys from the band....although I am not sure if you are ever going to read this ;D)everywhere-facebook,fansites, youtube and even blogs :DD...really,you  posted this 'message'  2 days ago and it already has 60 comments ...wow....It must be a wonderful feeling to know,how many people are standing behind you,even though they don't know you personally :DD...I can't imagine how much energy do the fans 'supply' to you for continuing in what you're doing...

I consider myself a fan....when I was 12 or so Meteora was the best music for me....since then I was listening to you just in the radio,so I've known just the biggiest hits :S...few weeks ago I decided to go to your concert,cause I heard that there is a tour in Europe,so we,me and my 13 years old sister,went to Munich (which is about 6 hours driving distance from our home-Slovakia)....since then we both can't listen to anything else but your music (what makes our parents pretty angry :D) ....God,it is so 'addicting' :D...

I  found out about LPU today (my sister is asking me all the time about the possibility to meet you-particulary you Mike-I think that she has 'fallen' for you :D-thankfully,she doesn't speak any English,she would kill me if she would read this :DDD)...and it is amazing  how much you are doing for the fans(it is nice that you want to return everything they have given you),not every such a famous band would do that (every day I find another reason to like LP even more- funny;D) About the fee....I think your arguments are pretty clear and sufficient....everything costs something nowadays....I was consider...

And about the critism...you all are proffesionals,so I am sure,you're taking it with 'a grain of salt'...but still,critique is very important to make us even better in what we do.......

 

P.S: I LOVE A THOUSAND SUNS ALBUM (it is quite different from the music you did before-it is calmer-maybe it has something to do with the age :DDD,but still it is awesome )....

I wish you,LP, all the best and I hope,that you are going to entertain us for a looooong time :DD

Thanks,Veronika
Comment by Grace Potter on June 30, 2011 at 9:31am

MIke, i think you are absolutely right about everything. First of all, i agrry with you about the negative posts. There are so many times that i wanted to write an opposite one and eventually i didn't because i was so overhealmed by the feelings, that i decided to keep them for myself(e.g. now i want to write so many things). On the other hand, when you are negative about something, it's easy to write something "raw".

Also, i totally agree with what you said about fans. Being a fan cannot be measured because it  has to do with the way you feel and this cannot be measured. To be honest, i have caught myself thinking that i am a bigger fan than others, but now i see that this is wrong. I am a fan because i feel like that. I am not a part of LPU because i don't want push my parents to spend money for me all the time, but i hope that some day i will have the opportunity to participate, not because i think that this is the way to be a bigger fan, but just for the experience. But even now i still feel like a fan.

Thank you Mike for helping me, with your post, realise this. Also, thank you linkin park for inspiring me with your songs and helping me express myself through them.

You are my favourite band!!!:)

Comment by Britney Harrison on June 30, 2011 at 9:08am

This is one of the best posts I have seen. LPU doesnt mean your a better fan just like

Mike said. I have considered myself a major LP fan since 2000 and didnt join LPU since February of this year.

Comment by Bibi on June 30, 2011 at 7:38am
Hey!
I´ve never been an underground-member. but not because i did´nt want it.
My life and this universe weren´t on my side...
But:
I LOVE YOU SINCE YEARS AND I WAS ALWAYS HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU GAVE ME!
NO REASON TO COMPLAIN...
And (hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! :) ) next year - if this universe helps me or not! -
I WILL BE AN UNDERGROUND MEMBER!!!!!
I LOVE YOU!
And I know, we will meet each other! The time will help me to become better, you´ll support me to be stronger and then I can finally give it all back to you.
Your Energy is out there and it really helps me every single day!
THANK YOU!
Love you, Bibi (Germany)
Comment by Arda Deveci on June 30, 2011 at 6:28am
you are a group of people having wisdom, justice and 'love' =) I know that..it's enough for me..
Comment by Sanya Mathur on June 30, 2011 at 6:06am

'i never felt negative ,i dnt want to feel more negative.more often' this is wat i think

Mike do u admire me now???????????     m sry i got excited! (jst kidding). 

LONG LIVE LINKIN PARK .UR FANS WILL ALWAYS LOVE U NO MATTER WAT OTHERS SAY! WE ALL KNOW THAT EMPTY VESSELS MAKE MORE NOISE SO LET THM SAY WHATEVER THEY WANT TO THEY CANT LESSEN THE LOVE V HAVE FOR YOU GUYS!

-sanya (india)

 

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