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 Jennifer Hoes on July 14, 2011 at 3:46am

I just loved this post.

I'm a member of LPU again since LPU 9. And I was a member in LPU 2 and 3. After LPU 3 (I don't really remember why...) my parents didn't let me use their creditcard to sign up for it (eventhough I always paid them back and I just didn't have one of my own...). I was very sad about that, but it never made me feel less "special" only because I wasn't in LPU anymore...  As you can see, I'm still a great fan until today, throughout all those years.

Nonetheless I'm happy to be a member again, not only because I had the chance to meet you at the M&G in Hamburg last year, something I'll never forget for the rest of my life.

I want to use this comment to thank you for how much you care about your fans and for making all such events as M&Gs possible for us. It' something I appreciate a lot and I don't take for granted.

 

Greetings from Germany (by the way: you rocked Oberursel! ;-)) and have a good time while your upcoming shows!

Comment by anindyashukla on July 8, 2011 at 12:00pm
Mike Shinoda,you are one of the a few good hearted celebs we are having...you and Linkin Park worked hard a lot as we all know it.so when a person like you says something,I ought to see your opinion because you are the best...as far as i am considered,i am a student...I promise you within the very same month or the next of my job,i will be buying all the Lp accessories..!!..you are an inspiration Mike,Love you and Linkin park..
Comment by David Van Schoik on July 8, 2011 at 8:24am
Mike, that was very refreshing, well-said and thought provoking.  More importantly, you are exactly right.  I am a very happy and proud member of LPU.  I love the band, the music and A Thousand Suns.  Thanks for taking the time "over coffee and toast" to write.  Keep up the good work and look forward to seeing you guys in Cincinnati some time soon!
Comment by Franzi on July 8, 2011 at 6:01am

Can't understand why the People talk negative about LPU. I'm not a member but I think it's a good thing from  LP. And yes Mike, you're right. If I want something, I must give something. For free you become almost nothing in this life...

And you're music has helped me in my bad time in my life. It wasn't easy to be stronger as the pain, the dissapointments and the fears... but you're music made me stronger. So I will say my biggest THANK YOU!!! ;)

Mike, don't care what some people say... I think they don't know what they actually say.

Linkin Park is and will be the best band ever!!!

 

By the way: Will someday come a new FM - Album??

 

All the best greetings and wishes from Germany

Franzi =)

 

Comment by Rafaelp GaLo on July 7, 2011 at 9:30pm
Linkin Park es lo mejor del mundo
Comment by Divan Hendrik van Zyl on July 7, 2011 at 1:09pm
Well said Mike. thanks for everything you have done through your music for me in my life. You guys have helped me through some pretty though times. And I commend you guys, especially you, for what you have done on your new album, it came out as one of the best I have ever listened to! I would also like to say that I think Chester has one of the greatest voices in the world! You are the GREATEST BAND EVER!!!!!
Comment by Sohail Kalia on July 7, 2011 at 8:06am

Hi Mike,

I completely agree with what you're saying. I am 16 years old and Linkin Park's music was the first I ever really listened to. I started listening to you guys when I was 8 or 9. Obviously I wasn't a member of LPU then and I still am not one, for that matter. The thing is, I stopped listening to Linkin Park for a few years. After Minutes to Midnight came out, I saw you guys live in Shanghai and I saw you once in Tokyo before that. I live in Shanghai but I did not go to see you guys on the Thousand Suns tour because I lost touch with your music. I am back into it now though. But I always called myself a fan. Even when I stopped listening to you, because you will always remain a part of my youth. When I grow old I will still be a Linkin Park fan, because It is the music I grew up to. What I'm trying to say is thank you for giving the world your music, and thank you for the love and care you give to ALL your fans, whether they are members or non-members.

Sohail

 

Comment by Aaralyn D on July 6, 2011 at 9:55pm

Hi Mike! :)

I read what you wrote about the vocal minority and all and was really pleased with what you said. It confirms what I thought about you, from your songs, that you're a good thinking man and a decent guy. I appreciate the past work you've done on yourself as a person, to get to where you are. Nice to know.

Lots of good wishes,

Aaralyn (one who also tries)

Comment by Lulu Farahdilaciouz on July 6, 2011 at 8:34pm

i love them cause i love their songs, their personality and the way they make me feel the meaning of all the songs and it's all help me to enjoy their music, to prove my sickness heart, to build my imagination, my spirit and my happiness ( cause chester's voice is very awesome )...

why don't u like linkinpark?? thanks to welcoming me to be ur fan :) i'm glad even i never go to ur concert :( i really wanna go but i have no chance ..

Comment by Sarah on July 6, 2011 at 2:10pm

I'm agree with kremtim (kibi) [LP], because me too, i'ven't gone in Lp concert, but I love Linkin Park, their amzing songs, their hard works.

Linkin Park create their new songs and sounds for all fans, and it doesn't mean fan are a member of LPUnderground or not, the most important is that Linkin Park love all their fans and will always make them happy with their awesome songs!!!

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