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 Tom James on June 30, 2011 at 4:43am

Hi Mike.. I am not so sure that u will read this comment or not but here is what went thru my mind when I finish up reading ur post and its well said... plus I just went thru the comments of the fellow "fans" too.. All seems to be the best fan or super fan of LP... On my end, things are not much different... me started listing to LP right from HT, got all the "genuine" copies.. Blah! Blah! Blah!... But I am not a member ofLPU... Why?? Answer lies in ur post itself.. The universal
"Give-And-Take" rule.. Of course I can afford ur 60$ bill but what next?? It’s my dream to watch ur concert live.. And my life will be fulfilled like any other LP super fans, if I get a chance to meet you guys up close.. But it’s not happening.. The LP never had a concert in India.. I know this is not relevant to the current topic here but to our GAT rule LPU membership not worth to me.. (forget about the LP merch..and lack of LPU membership is not a thing that makes me not fan) Some of my friends from LPN and me tried to reach ur management couple of years before to arrange a concert here in India but we were disappointed..  Now times changed everyone of us got engaged in the busy everyday life.. But still whenever we got a chance to meet up.. We
talk abt u guys and  our failed attempt.
Please please please try to add India too in your tour schedule.  This is only thing I want to share here...

MIKE!! You and your team are really amazing.. And u guys will be the best band
ever to me and my friends.

Comment by LINKIN PARK 4 LIFE! on June 30, 2011 at 3:23am

Hi mike i think that ALL fans are the best because they all care about LP and they all just want the best for the band

Bu tthe bestest fans are the ones who dont go on about the "old" LP and the "new " LP coz to be honest there isnt a old and new it has always just been linkin park the band im in love with who just make great music for thier fans and true fans will support you no matter what you decision is ;) xxxxx

 

Comment by Tanul Singh on June 30, 2011 at 2:21am
I do agree with Michal but what about those who have money but don't have enuf resources???? There are many countries where it's really hard to get a single LPU album.... Even there studio albums come in limited stock... people do wanna interact but then at least they should get a chance to show their love for LP...
Comment by Michał on June 30, 2011 at 12:43am
Im glad that Mike made that topic clear and I agree with sentence that if you consider yourself as fan, that means that you are one. Maybe some ppl have too little money or have thousands of other reasons not buy LPU, but whatever, that is their own decisions. I am sure that some of fans are children(I mean like 12-16 years old) and are dependable on their parents wallets and what makes them fans, by that i mean real fans, is that they create their taste of music on Linkin Park songs and while others will one day forget about existance of that band, they will still remember songs and furthermore they will remember amazing people that created that band. So not money makes us real fan but amount of stuff that we learn from band. From the very beginning of my listening to that band i have always been amazed by outstanding lyrics that were bringing a lot of intelligent stuff. I learned a lot because of them and made few important decisions(when i was sitting whole night and i was listening to LP trying to find something in their lyrics and music that helped me somehow). Thanks to that i am ready to do everything for the band and still am out of LPU without specyfic reason. I was on their performance in Hamburg on 21st of June... they were amazing as always but that was my first concert and i didnt know what i loose not being a LPU member and being unabled to go to summit and meet those ppl. But in my opinion lack of LPU membership is not a thing that makes me not fan, but fact that i completely rely on songs meanings and see eomething more in the songs than just music and empty words make me real fan of LP :)
Now this part is to Mike :) : im not angry either, im just lying in my bed and eat breakfast and dring hot cup of tea ;)
KEEP UP GUYS, YOU ARE OUTSTANDING BAND
Comment by Tanul Singh on June 30, 2011 at 12:17am
Hey!!! Mike I do agree with what you said above but you see, that it's kinda really tough to join LPU when you live in a country like India. Most of the guys out here who have an LPU account either have contacts outside India or have enough resources to buy online. I mean, i know it's quite easy to buy all this stuff online but you do have to realize that the efficiency of delivery is not the same in every country. For all the fans out here in India, it's really difficult to contact you or be in touch with you cuz u guys have never performed here. Meet n Greet seems to be thing too far fetched....
Comment by wedarini kartikasari on June 29, 2011 at 10:27pm
It's true that I don't spend any of my little salary to be a LPU member, but I spent damn money to buy original digital files of A Thousand Suns when the the others -who called me crazy stupid- copy them illegaly.
Does it make me just-a-fan or a superfan?
Comment by Mel insigne on June 29, 2011 at 10:25pm

    I hope that clears a lot of negative minds out there.Some people just seem to have a close mind on these things.

    I may also not have all LP albums nor i have been in so many of their concerts or bought every single merchandise they have but the heck! I may not be the most hardcore but I am a fan! ever since Hybrid theory came out i had started being a fan.Admiring their songs esp with such lyrics that have so much to say and people can relate to in most of what has been going about not only on personal experiences but in life as a whole and in the world.Their music is unique and their videos are brilliance in motion.

      I believe MUSIC should be an instrument in bringing harmony but when people start to think why they should they not be included then that's just a stupid thing.When i read Mike's comment on the issue,the more i  admire him and the band 'coz they don't care if who seems to be not having so much of them and their music.They appreciate every fan out there and the fact that there are non fans but they can't seem to not stop arguing about them with the fans,wow that's an effect right there:).Plus people who are just listening and thought of their song/music or their lyrics and thinks it out on their situations or as a whole it's something fans like myself can lift my chin up for.Why argue for exclusivity?Music should be for Peace, Equality, Life.

         I'm sure these things matter to the band and it's one of their reasons why they do this and still is inspired to do this.Peeps,the world has so many problems already let's just try to listen and unite.PEACE everyone,please! Oh and i love LP!:)...just like everyone here:)

Comment by Laila Zumala Agustina on June 29, 2011 at 10:05pm

well, I'm not a LPU member, I really want to be but I can't join the group because I don't have any credit cards. if I can be a LPU member without using  a credit card (paying with cash maybe :D) I will be very happy and I will join the group. well, although I'm not a LPU member, I still love LP and will always support them.

Go Mike, Chester, Brad, Joe, Phoenix, Rob!!! love you all!!!

and best wishes for the group :D

Comment by Nihal Kaur on June 29, 2011 at 9:22pm

I may not have all LP albums nor have I ever been to their concerts (going to, though :D) but I declare myself a fan 8 years ago. and no I am not an LPU fan and still consider myself as a proud SOLDIER. if you don't want to spend $10 or $60 to get into the "inner circle", then fine. it's not like anyone forced you to.

Comment by Jayson Markgraf on June 29, 2011 at 5:12pm

Clapping for Linkin Park! I just want to put two more cents into the machine... Mike, Chester, Brad, Joe, Phoenix, Rob: Ya'll have played a part in someones life with at least one of your songs from Hybrid to 1000 Suns... I have found that every single person that I've talked to in the last 10 plus year has at least one favorite song.  Their ages 5 to 81... small to tall... poor to rich.  

 

I've personally been a "super fan" since 98'  I've ment ya'll alot: most recently, at the Laser Light Show for 1000 Sun's, ("Fort Minor" member gave us a ViP Pass :p to go upstairs! :) I was at 2010 VMA's (front row by Chester) and went to the Kansas City Meet and Greet / concert which was mind blowing with how close we all were to the band :)

 

The way I've looked at the UNDERGROUND since it was conceived has always been an inner circle. After seeing the changes, $60 is a small fee to meet greatness. I have faith that Ya'll will continue to push the bar higher and never settle. I can't wait for the day that UNDERGROUND is a complete experiences to the point that all your concerts only have underground members in it. :p 

 

Until The End, lets fight the Wretches & Kings,

Jay 

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