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 Beatriz LP *-* on June 29, 2011 at 4:48pm
Ah e tambem...O LPU e muito importante..e se eu tivesse condiçoes financeiras(obs: sou menor de idade e nao tenho emprego e minha mae não recebe o bastante para eu conseguir pagar o LPU todo ano )eu faria parte com muita alegria e gosto no LPU!E entendo perfeitamente o relacionamento do LPU com os fãs que fazem parte dele!Uma pessoa dizer que quem nao e membro do LPU nao e considerado fã da banda (que ja vi muitos falarem no Twitter Orkut essas coisas todas) ou a pessoa e muito muito sei lá sem nossao ou bateu a cabeça quando nasceu e desde então nao pensa direito >:/!

Oh and also ... The LPU and very important .. and if I had financial conditions (note: I am under age and not have a job and my mother does not receive enough for the LPU I can pay every year) I would part with joy of LPU! and I easily understand the relationship of the LPU with fans that are part of it! a person who does not say that and not a member of the LPU fan of the band and found (I've seen many Twitter speak in all these things ) or the person very much and I know there without nossao or hit his head when he was born and since then not think right>: /!

Obs:Eu uso o Google tradutor então a 90% de chances das palavras em ingles estarem erradas!

Note: I use Google translator then to 90% chance of being wrong words in English!
Comment by Sayja Nelson on June 29, 2011 at 4:45pm

*claps* Mike my choice is this line, "If you’ve read this post and thought, “I don’t want to feel more negative, more often,” I commend and admire you."

I've never been negitive, and your pretty much right, I love all the albums btw, and you took the time to do this sooo, hopefully who ever tweeted that, read this. CLEARLY STATED THE BAND DOES LISTEN. DO YOU????

Comment by Beatriz LP *-* on June 29, 2011 at 4:34pm

-Em Portugues
Olha não vou mentir!
Eu sou uma fã recente da banda!Mas eu AMO essa banda de uma forma tão inesplicavel!Eu não sei se e porque de uma forma a musica deles me ajudaram(afinal Numb e minha historia)!Eu so fã do LP desde o ano passado!E acho que era pra eu ser mesmo porque meu primo mais velho ele tem camisetas e Cd's da banda,e escutaa varias musicas da banda!Mas eu nao sei Eu Conheço a banda suas musicas sua historia a so um ano!Mas eu gosto,amo tanto essa banda que e meio inexplicavel até pra mim!Eu so sei que eu gosto de mais do Linkin Park!E ser fã do LP onde eu moro e meio complicadinho porcausa que minha cidade e bacana,não tem enchente nem nada mas tambem não tem cinema,shopping nem nada do tipo!Mesmo assim isso nao me privatiza da banda!
Mike...Você resumio tudo... if you think you’re a fan, then you are a fan.( se você acha que é um fã, então você é um fã[em portugues])
Eu acho que eu so uma fã da banda,e eu sou :)


Como eu disse...Eu amo demais LP,de uma maneira inexplicavel, mas e assim
Eu Amo Linkin Park muito,muito mesmo,de uma forma inexplicavel,a muito pouco tempo mas LP é minha vida!
-Em Ingles
Look I will not lie!
I am a recent fan of the band! But I LOVE this band a inesplicavel so, I do not know if and why in a way their music helped me (after all numb and my story), I only fan of LP since last year ! and I think I was to be the same because my older cousin he has T-shirts and CD's in the band and hear several songs from the band! But I do not know I know the band their music its history to just one year! But I like it so love this band and that means unexplainable to me, I only know that I like more Linkin Park! be a fan of LP and where I live and kinda difficult porcausa my city and cool, no flooding or anything but also not have movies, shopping or anything like that! Still I would not be privatized in the band!
Mike ... You resumio all ... if you think you're a fan, then you are a fan. (if you think you're a fan, then you are a fan [in Portuguese])
I think I'm just a fan of the band, and I am:)


Like I said ... I love LP too, of an inexplicable way, but so
I love Linkin Park really, really, from an inexplicable way, the very little time but LP is my life!

Comment by Minerva Mcs on June 29, 2011 at 3:15pm

I've read your post, Mike, and I only want to say:

-I'm a great fan of the band, since Hybrid Theory I love your music and all what you do, and I would like to be LPU-member... but the problem is that I don't work and I can't pay 60$ (50 euros for me, because I'm spanish). In addition, although I could pay the price, I think it wouldn't worth to do that, because I couldn't go to the summits (because I haven't enough money to pay a plane ticket) and because I couldn't be in LPU chat chatting with you or the other guys due to the time difference between USA and Spain.

But I swear that I would like to be LPU member because I love all of you and your music, I answered the poll and I were in Madrid's show in November 2010. And everyday I wish that someday LP come to Spain again because here are a lot of fans waiting for you guys...

I only want you to know this :)

Comment by Sofiii LiiNKiiN PARK wiife! on June 29, 2011 at 2:57pm
if you think you are a FAN, you are a fan!!! think carefully.sometimes the comments can be annoying or frustating. I LOVE LINKIN PARK, FOREVER!!!
Comment by AgataRaj on June 29, 2011 at 1:11pm

Nie potrafię napisac tego po angielsku, wię napiszę po polsku. Może ktoś to wam przetłumaczy,jeżeli nie to trudno,po prostu mi ulży. Uwielbiam waszą muzykę,wasze osobowości,lubię poruszac się w klimatach jakie tworzycie. Słucham LP codziennie:kiedy biegam ,jadę samochodem, pracuję,wasza piosenka budzi mnie co rano....Cieszę się że ludzie ,których podziwiam za talent (nie tylko) muzyczny,są także wrażliwi na ludzkie nieszczęście i pomagają innym. Wiem że często mówicie że wasi fani są najlepsi (to miłe),Widocznie macie ku temu powody:) Wiem też że nie mówicie tego tylko o LPU. Niedawno wypełniałam waszą ankietę. Zabrakło mi odpowiedzi ,którą powinnam wpisac na pytanie :dlaczego nie jesteś członkiem LPU. Ja po prostu jestem za stara na takie organizacje:) Ale zabrałam moją 13letnią córkę na wasz koncert. Była zachwycona! pomimo tego że publicznośc nie była dokładnie"Linkinparkowa". Dziękuję. 

Zawsze będą "ludzie" ,którym się nudzi,są pod wpływem Bóg(jeśli jest taki ktoś) wie czego,lub po prostu czegoś brakuje w genach lub chromosomy im się źle połączyły i wypisują takie pierdoły. Trzeba im współczóc i życ dalej.

Pozdrawiam i życzę powodzenia-Agata.

Comment by Kelley Drobnis on June 29, 2011 at 12:14pm
"If you think you're a fan, then you are a fan."  Brilliantly put, and a very important reminder to all of us....LPU members and non-members alike.
Comment by amalon on June 29, 2011 at 11:15am

from this post you made MIKE it shows

1)WHY YOU'VE BEEN IN THE 10 BEST ROCK BANDS EVER youHE FANS OF  answered on something that an other one "rock star" he wouldn't even take the bother to read

2)WHY WE THE FANS OF METAL HAVE A PIECE ON OUR MIND AND OUR HEART FOR LINKIN PARK

P.S i am also a fan that i haven't the money this time to spend for LPU that make me less fan or  THAT I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING  I LOOK THE STREET SOLDIER IN ME THE SOLDIER  I CREATE TEN YEARS NOW WITH THE LINKIN PARK MUSIC AND LOVE!!!!

P.S 2 EVERY THING YOU SAY FOR THEM IS JUST ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE EDGE

FROM GREECE WITH LOVE

Comment by Charlene McAliece on June 29, 2011 at 10:23am
on another note ... the fans that complain should actually take a look at other bands around them and realise that linkin park are actually incredibly involved in their fans .... not many interactive music artists out there
Comment by Charlene McAliece on June 29, 2011 at 10:18am
right time for a bit of a speech lol .... i am part of linkin park underground, i love it :) i got to meet the band last year and now hav my name in the sleeve of the lpux album :):) all amazing things that dreams are made of but that doesnt make me any different from any other linkin park fan in the world .... that just made me extremely lucky lol :) in life u cant put in no effort for huge returns ie u cant win the lottery without buying a ticket :) i went to the meet and greet newcastle and i met 19 other ppl .... 11 of which are now on a facebook page and we speak on an almost daily basis ... this is wat linkin park done for us , we are fans and we were brought together , there is no argument to wether we are better fans than the other we are all great friends !! mikes right to be pee'd that all u ever hear is negativity but i have to say my years of being a fan has brought me through so much and id never change it for the world !! i save my argument for non lp fans :) i like proving them to be uneducated fools for not understanding lol ... love ya all lots xx

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