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 kremtim (kibi) [LP] on July 6, 2011 at 6:21am
I dont understand the "big fan","huge fan"...i mean how are they rated.Anyway,I am from Kosovo,and never bought an LP album(downloaded them),and i still haven't gone in LP concert,but i Love your work,keep it on :P....You Rock.
Comment by Georgia18 on July 6, 2011 at 4:21am
I'm a huge lp fan. Yes, i admit that i have never spend a dollar or euro to buy an album of lp. But i love this band, as nothing in this world. I love all the songs and i would like to be an lpu member. But i'm not. I think that the only think that stops me, is that i'm only 14 years old and i can't go to any lpu summit because lp don't have an lpu summit in Greece. So,if i'm so young i can't go to another country to attend it. Because i think that the biggest advantage apart from live chats in Lpu is to meet the band in lpu summits and meet and greet. I would like at least to take an album. And sure i will buy it.
Comment by Sulav Deep Uprety on July 5, 2011 at 10:25pm
I also Agree with U all. In order to Gain Something U've got to Lose Something. One doesn't always need a Money to become a Fan. For Example Look at me. I've never ever been to any Concerts Of Linkin Park. Coz well They've Never been to our Nation. And also in our Nation they don't send CD's DVD's Of Linkin Park. I don't know why. Anyway I'm happy to Become a Member here. Linkin Park are the Best. Love U all... :)
Comment by Megan Mercredi on July 5, 2011 at 2:59pm

Ya,I agree on all that,I read the top part and I was like wait,Isn't that the exact same money that pays for the thing you want? because you need to pay for that to even be possible to happen.

I never comment on something when a war between two biased groups is going on,I'd get shot down on itunes.

I think 60 $ a year is well worth it for an LPU membership.The only reason I don't have one is because I'm 13 and have really bad anxiety so I'm afraid to get a job over the summer and I don't want to ask my parents.Every time my Dad sees me online looking at LP stuff he"s like: shesh,you're not tired of that yet?

But I won't and I haven't gotten tired of Evanscence,Paramore,Flyleaf,or Beta state either.

I thought you must of been a member of lpu and linkinpark.com but then I realised you were Mike Shinoda,So like,Hi! :D

Comment by James Alan Moniello on July 5, 2011 at 10:29am
I am a huge fan of Linkin Park and I was once a member of Linkin Park Underground way back when.. if I had to guess, 2002 or 03.  Not being part of LPU doesn't make someone who is a better fan, as you stated.  When my friends and I go out, I have a tendency to drive cause my car, my music.. which annyos my friends cause I play you guys entirely too much, in their opinion.  I've told people two things... 1. I dont need any of their music, all I need is Linkin Park and 2. I could lay in my bed and listen to Linkin Park music on repeat shuffle and die happy.  A bit extreme, but you get the point.  I posted on Facebook, "Do you know the feeling when you're when its the night before Christmas and your stomach is inside out because of all the awesome presents you're going to get?  That's exactly how I feel right now with Linkin Park's new cd coming out tomorrow."  That was in reference to A Thousand Suns, which didn't dissapoint me.  A real fan wishes for their band to succeed.  I dont believe A Thousand Suns went platinum in the US... that scares me  I was nervous of Iridescent as the Transformers selection because I didnt think it would fit(it totally did).. If Linkin Park broke up because of lack of success, I'd be devastated. 15 of the top 25 songs played on my iPod is Linkin Park... but that's only because I got the iPod in 2008.  If it was around in 00, that would most likely be 25/25.
With all that said, I work for the New York Stock Exchange as an AV Tech.  I would love for you guys to come by and ring the Opening Bell.  I would think maybe when you come back to NJ or NY for your next tour you could do it.  Even if you dont, I'd be there at the concert chearing you guys on... possibly a member of LPU... I never join fan clubs or sign up for magazing subscriptions or things of the sort... only once, and that was you guys.
Comment by Stephanus Suharli on July 5, 2011 at 6:46am
Personally I like LInkin park music. I dont mind to contribute about 60 dollar/year at least this what I can do to make you guys keep on rocking!!!!!!!! Thank you Linkin park... Keep the spirit on.......
Comment by viktoria on July 5, 2011 at 5:47am
ok maybe i was i little rude but the guy that post that was enormously rude maybe if you make more concerts in little countries like Bulgaria the last time you had a concert was 5-6 years sins now you had a concert i Bulgaria only one time but in Germany you have 4-5 right
Comment by Shugah Colby on July 5, 2011 at 5:30am

Hey Mike... I'm not going to type some long 4 paragraph comment on how I agree with you (because you will prob. never see it :) but I did want to comment and kinda laugh at the sudden burst of positive comments.. Because you distinctively stated that people are more likely to be negitive online, my fellow linkinpark.com members and LPU members took it upon themselves to spam you guys with the same positive comments over and over.. Its funny how easily some people get influenced :).. I enjoyed reading all the comments posted before me and I am happy you touched on this subject because I've been seeing alot of negitive things on the LP YouTube.. Please continue to reach out to the negitive fans but don't forget us positives (ha!).. Have a good day guys!


Comment by LinkinParkElite on July 5, 2011 at 5:03am

Hi Mike I quite agree with you!!!
For example I am an LPU member and when I attended your concert in Munich I got a meet and greet...that must have cost you guys a lot of many (security etc.) but you still do it to give the fan (in this case me) an amazing experience!!

Like Mike said they don't profit from LPU!!

Even if they did I actually think the fact that you are PAYING for a fan club entitles you to benefits such as M&G video chats etc...

It is everyones personal decision if he wants to be part of LPU

if that person doesn't he should not expect to receive things from LP that actually cost LP!!! (f.e. M&G)

By paying for those things the LPU community makes it possible to get close to the band  and even talk to them!!!

to those who disagree:
Imagine no LPU: yes every fan would be equal but no one no matter how dedicated would have the chance to get anywhere near LP due to cost/ security/ time reasons


So final words: Linkin Park I commend you for making such things as a M&G possible for us!!! The day in Munich was amazing I cannot thank you enough :D

All the effort you put into LPU I think 60$ is a perfectly acceptable price...I mean in a few months time we will be recieving the LPU pack in effect for free!!
I would have paid 60$ just for the M&G

Comment by viktoria on July 5, 2011 at 1:18am

hi mike 

I like other people understood what you said up there that " you have to
give something ( in this case money ) to get something back but haven't you and
the others from LP thought that you have fans that can't give 60 dolors per
year for a membership in LPU because for them that is a lot of money. But they
still like you and they are your fans. I'm still your fan but for you
everything is  about  money isn't it.

Please correct me if i didn't get the point (because I'm not from the USA or the UK I'm from BULGARIA it is in EUROPE)

your fan: Viki


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