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 yaone makoto on July 1, 2011 at 11:46am

I'm not a member of lp underground, so what do I have to do to attract your interest?

thank you for what you've done ,and for what you will do.

thanks again,but I think that those things are not made for an incapable one like me.

 

Comment by Enigma Streetsoldier on July 1, 2011 at 9:08am
I agree with what Rachel Gatehouse (and of course Mike) said to some extent, because I've wanted to join LPU for years now (been a dedicated fan since I heard What I've Done in the first Transformers movie when I saw it in a theater), but I could just never get around to it. And that's how it works, if you're willing to pay more to a band you love, you'll get more from the band you love. Hopefully, I'll be able to join the LPU soon!            -Enigma
Comment by Shanevril on July 1, 2011 at 7:28am
some people just want attention,i was a n avid fan too but i did not buy linkin park stuff, i just download there music videos at my laptop and to my phone,  i love to hear much of there song when i was alone....so far i cant afford  but im planning to watch there concert and buy some of there stuff.. i still love linkin park and i dont care any rumor about them for me listening there song make my day.i was updated linkin park latest album but not the rumor i was sick reading about it,all i know there are some people want attention.........there a loser,,guys eep up the good work i really like your latest album
Comment by Rachel Gatehouse on July 1, 2011 at 7:13am

There are way more important issues in the world than this.  However, I agree with Mike's message..its a bit of give and take.  I don't spend the money on LPU but am a BIG fan of the band.  I have a family and for me I just can't give this money to the band.  However, we all make sure we have enough money for those things we REALLY want don't we.  I don't think its an expensive price I pay a lot more than that to go to the gym, because that's important to me. 

This is only the second time I have actually written on this forum.


Love and peace to you all xxx

Comment by M.Shadows on July 1, 2011 at 6:11am
i love how Mike easily understand those kind of things.
Comment by Emese Terplán on July 1, 2011 at 4:32am
Love Ya, Guys! Mike, you are right ~ "if you think you're a fan, then you are a fan" Thank You! =)
Comment by Nenad Mitrovic on July 1, 2011 at 3:46am
Mike is right about the people. I'm LP fan for several years, I like every album and I never complain about something cuz there's no reason for me to do that. P.S. not a LPU member but love the best band in the world :)))
Comment by simran shukla on July 1, 2011 at 1:17am
iam realy touched with your post! hel yea! you dont have to be an LPU member to be your fan ! my sister actually made me hear your song NUMB and somehow i could just relate to it! and since then ive just adored your work and your efforts to come up with such great albums! my onlyyyyy dream is to be on 1st row of ur concert and get to meet you and the whole band! then even alightening could strike me and i wouldnt mind that one bit! pleaaseeeee add india to your tour list and youl be surprised by the number of fans that show up! thank you linkin park !
Comment by MatthewL on June 30, 2011 at 9:47pm
Mike et al: You have read the responses from many of us. Any comments about what you have read? 
Comment by Sarah(: on June 30, 2011 at 4:58pm

Maybe the rest of us don't have 60 bucks to pay for LPu every year. Maybe that 60 bucks goes to paying bills, buying clothes, eating food, and maybe even supporting a family for some of you. That, however, doe snot mean that we aren't devoted fans. We can still love you even if we aren't subscribed to LPU. So for those of you who have their knickers in a twist over this, build a freaking bridge and get over it. Or pay the 60 bucks a year to be in LPU and get whatever "first class treatment' you're whining about. Whatever the case, quit complaining!

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