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 BIALP on July 2, 2011 at 4:27pm
o importante nao é o dinheiro o importante é o grande amor dos fãs
Comment by Zizy on July 2, 2011 at 9:42am

A issue like this really "sensitive".

I've got a problem like this actually (I live in Indonesia, September 21 2011 they'll perform in Indonesia, as a big fan I would love to come & see, but unfortunately I don't have enough money for it & I'm not a LPU member at this time so I don't get invitation). But I think it's not "the end", pay or no & what'll you get for that, it's just about the time (you can't be a LPU member at this time but maybe tomorrow or next time, who knows?).

So, if you're really a LP's big fan you should continue to support them whenever, wherever and however your condition.

PEACE & LOVE.

Comment by Alexander Mutors on July 2, 2011 at 8:59am
sorry.....bad english....lol
Comment by Alexander Mutors on July 2, 2011 at 8:58am

hey guys, just ONE Comment.

We should be more enjoy what we have, NOT what we DON´T have.

i dont care, if there is a special club - that´s nothing better, just different. so every fan is important. just like this, we can make Linkin Park the GREATEST in the WORLD....i enjoyed Munich few weeks ago and was really HAPPY ..young AND old are celebrating together...no difference this time "just" fans...but by the way..waiting for the download of the live-concert June 25th 2011....good job....thx for all - Alexbo

Comment by YourMum on July 2, 2011 at 3:22am

But who cares about who's the better fan or who's spending more money!

It is about music, guys. Sadly, what Mike said is completely right: in this world, the more you pay the more you get.

The point is: does LP's music give you chills when you listen at it? Do you like listening to them? Then you are a fan. There ain't no first class fans or bigger fans. If you know what's the colour of Chester's underpants, good for you, but who the hell cares!
You like their music, you are a fan.

It's actually cool that they also give you the chance to get closer to them through this fan club.

And, OMG, the twit was so idiotic I thought it had been written by a child of five. Grow up, man!


Only music matters.

Comment by Sagar Bajaj on July 2, 2011 at 1:30am
and answer for ur thousand suns question-max people only listen to singles u should release songs like blackout,wretches and when they come for meetc in singles instead of burning in the skies etc..
Comment by Sagar Bajaj on July 2, 2011 at 1:27am

i dont agree with you mike...u should not be holding lpu summit...but there is an alternative...u should do that like a tour sort of thing....u want to come to summit then u give the ticket fees for it....i am not criticizing linkin park and in fact i just love you guys but i dont like ur management....why cant a band like you hold your tours and all where ever you want or wherever you like(Ive heard u tour,wherever ur management wants to,and ive heard u dont like people asking u to come to a place)...LPU should not be there...u should release the underground songs and all.. public-ally like an album and sell the cd's out and that money can go to the organization and u wont have to make first class fans like u said above....

 

p.s.-who is the lead you or chazz...lol...im thinking this from a long time....and not got any answer still..

 

regards-

sagar

Comment by James Montagriff on July 1, 2011 at 10:17pm

Mike

 

It just came to me, If Linkin Park came out with "A Thousand Suns" as their very 1st album back in 2000 instead of Hybrid Theory and they just came out with Hybrid Theory now. What would their career would be like?

 

At the end of the day mike, the only thing that matters is what yourself and the band thinks. Yes it's important to give back but its better to understand who we are as humans. Instead of giving into people, who think what they know what is good or not good.

 

- James -

Comment by wedarini kartikasari on July 1, 2011 at 2:55pm
I am very touched by what Cindy Hendrycks said :
"save 2 dollar every week"
You know what? the truth is I was a little bit of negative (sorry, Mike). In the little brain of mine, if I was already a member though, I considered that it's impossible to me to attend International LPU Summit, yet I was so jealous to see you guys participating in LP's videos.
Now I think about it, it's not about the "first class status" it's about "the existence of me being LP's fan" and I just want to do more efforts about that.
What's so difficult to save 2 dollars every week (or so), and that I don't have to burden my parents since I have started working since last year.
So, for any of you who still in the state of "Negative", please, hear/read what Mike has stated in the blog
"If you think you're a fan, then you are a fan".
And you know what? I think I reconsider myself to be an LPU member. ^_^y
Comment by Cindy Hendrycks on July 1, 2011 at 1:56pm

I have been fan since In The End... from the very beginning.

I never knew of LPU until LP came to Bercy (France) and we (my partner and I) wanted to see them live.

It had been 10 years since they came to Belgium (until yesterday :DD), and because of the community of LPU and all they offer we decided to be a member.  My partner stayed member for almost every year, but I didn't.  I felt : he had all the merchandise, and I can see the website through him, so I don't need to pay.

This year, when it was announced that LP came to Werchter, and that there was going to be a Meet & Greet, I immediatly became a member!

Just like somewone below said : you pay for something you really want!  Even if you  have to save for it for a long time!  And I really wanted the chance for a Meet & Greet, together with my boyfriend.  And we were both lucky :DD That's an amaizing event!

 

So for the people who are very interested, but don't have the money :

listen to what Mike says : it doesn't matter for LP themselves that you pay! 

But if you really want extra opportunities, save 2 dollars every week, and by the end of the year you can pay for the membership and buy some extra things!

It's all worth it...

 

Respect to all x

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