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 Lawrence A on October 8, 2011 at 5:45am

It’s comforting to know that you give attention to these things (Outrage Fan).Sometimes we feel left alone, we are asking for attention because we feel we are not part of the group .The truth of the matter is! The band are international “STARS” and you guys are hard to reach that’s the truth. That’s why maybe when an event or whatever become exclusive to the member some of us react, asking why don’t you make an event where most of us can meet you, not exclusive (taking the concert from the equation).  The chance of you guys going to one place (outside USA) or meeting you somehow, is like once in a lifetime.

Anyway what I mean is “MIKE THANK YOU for REACHING to US”
Comment by Stefan Novak on August 14, 2011 at 11:55am

heheh, spending my birthday money in a few weeks to get an annual membership :P
It's just like what you said about give and take I've taken your music and made ideas and inspiration out of it, so I want to give something back to you guys, even though it doesn't actually go to you six...

Bummer :( 

Comment by Dorene Perkins on July 28, 2011 at 1:15pm
As always, very eloquently said, Mike.  I am by no means wealthy, just barely comfortable.  I chose to invest $60 annually (think of it as $5/month) because I feel passionately about Linkin Park collectively.  Mike's music and lyrics speak to me and touch my soul.  I sometimes feel that he knows what is in my heart and soul.  The point is, I chose Linkin Park as a priority, a small luxury I allow myself to indulge in, and that choice has paid off in spades!  Don't be so bitter towards the world because of decisions you have made...
Comment by caitlin clifford on July 28, 2011 at 12:03am

may i add in that im13 and recently became a member and i must say i love the band just as much as i did before but it is cool having more of an inside veiw of lp and some of the lpu tv stuff is pretty gangster... but it really is worth becoming a memeber and for what u get in the long run definately worth it

 

Comment by Sarah Scheitz on July 24, 2011 at 7:16am

Don´t understand why this guy is so upset!

Big Popstars like Lady Gaga etc. never have private conversations with their fans because of one simple reason: There are too many of them :)

 

I think LPU is the best opportunity for LP to have furthermore close contact to a handfull of fans but we not members shouldn´t feel offended or something like this!

 

When I say we can be great fans without paying 60 bucks a year I think 29Million would agree.

 

So @ LP we don´t care who is in LPU or not, it´s about the music and you that we love !

It´s just  great that you still find time to spend it with some of your fans!!

Comment by Muhammed Nishad.S on July 22, 2011 at 9:34am

THERE ARE MILLIONS OF FANS WHO DOSENT HAVE MONEY TO BECAME LPU MEMBER LIKE ME IT DOSENT MEAN THAT WE ARENT FANS NOR TEAM LP IS CHEATING THINK GLOBAL WE LIVE IN THE WORLD WRER EVERY ONE IS TRYING TO MAKE MONEY XO TEAM LP TOO DOING THE SAME BUT THEY TAKE ONLY FEW AMOUNT OF MONEY THEY NEED    , THE REST IS SPEND ON HELPING PEOPLE LIKE IN HAITHI AND JAPAN  

XO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS? 

 

IF YOU DONT HAVE THE MONEY TO BECAME LPU MEMBER JUST THINK ECONOMY IS BAD

Comment by Yormint A. Moreno Padilla on July 21, 2011 at 8:26pm
The people negative are anyone comparing with the people how me. that admire the music of you band are single and unparalleled, The "positive" peole  we are MOST!
Comment by Federica on July 20, 2011 at 8:11am
* real mike ...
Comment by Federica on July 20, 2011 at 8:09am
I have not yet figured out if you are the real mike ... I understand the little 'because I am Italian American excuse. give me an answer thanks
Comment by _marialp on July 18, 2011 at 5:15am

I really loved enjoed reading this post,and re-thinking everything you've done for fans and what fans did for you.Thank you for spending time on writing this while "a cup of coffee and a couple pieces of toast".

I'm really glad that you,Mike,and other members of the group really admire and take care of your fans,wheather they are LPU members or not.And do not understand why people talk so much negative to LPU and its members.Mike,this is a really "must discuss" topic.

If you're not an LPU member,it dosen't make you "less-fan" or smth like that.And I totally agree with what Mike is saying.Sun shines to everyone the same,probably you're just in the shadow for sometime.

As for me I'm not an LPU member,although I want to be.I've only to one LP concert this year in my home town,Moscow,and I really liked it! It was awesome!

I just want to thank LP that they love and take care of all their fans,no wondering who they are! Thank you,for who you are.

 

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