[THREAD] Fans Vs. Followers: The Average Fandom Is Dead, ARMY...We're Fighting Ghosts

Part I

I'm sure you've read a ghost story or watched a thrilling horror movie featuring haunted houses. A common twist you may have seen involves someone or a family who believed until the very end they were alive, only to find out they weren't.
I guess what I'm saying is these days ARMY often encounter people who claim to stan artists, claim to be part of vibrant fandoms but the truth is very different the minute these people are asked to take part in behaviors that force them off of social media and into their wallets.
It's bizarre really. I mean, I need us to step outside of music for you to understand HOW bizarre.

Let's say BTS is not a music group but a basketball team.
Okay, as a basketball team, BTS has a huge social media following. They have a schedule and various other teams they will be competing against. ARMY, their fans, know the schedule and we all buy tickets and we all show up.
Now, let's say their opponent's fans do not buy tickets. Instead, they all sit at home and watch the game on TV. Almost everyone. Their side of the stadium is practically empty. BUT, because the team owners spent enough money to let the fans watch at home, the game is "sold out."
Not only that, but the team that BTS faces is praised for their popularity and success even though their fans hardly ever show up to their games. The team owners buying up seats to make the game sell out is treated as normal but ARMY buying up tickets is seen as strange.
Could you, with a straight face, claim ARMY going above and beyond to support their sports team was a manipulation of the game? In the same breathe as praising a sports team owner for buying up all their team's seats to make the game sold out?

Could you REALLY, Susan?
"BTS shouldn't be #1 because their fans are buying too much music!" is a sentence that no one who ever loved music or multiple brain cells should ever type. But here we are on the other side of bundles, so what can I say?

Except, "Where did it all go wrong?"

I have puzzled over this for a while, and though I asked twice, I'd venture to say "where" isn't as important as the "when," "why," and "what."
I know people will be tempted to point to the perceived death of the CD in the early 2000s due to a combination of CD burning, Person-to-Person mp3 sharing, and the loudness wars. But, I actually disagree.
I think that the success of iTunes following the "death" of the CD showed that people were still very much willing to buy songs if it was something they enjoyed.

AND if there were no alternatives.

I'd say the when is closer to 2015 (or between 2013 and 2016).
Now, why do I choose this time period? Well, my theory is a pretty straightforward one: This is when social media and streaming were starting to hit their stride.

And you can look at the pop acts of this era to notice a strong and swift drop in sales.
Coinciding with this drop was a comfortable digital reality where people found social media sites they enjoyed and stayed there and streaming platforms and playlists they liked and stayed there.

Fans gave way to social media followers and passive streaming.
Even worse, people who claim to be part of a fandom began to prioritize the idea of the CASUAL LISTENER doing the heavy lifting. That the general public is chiefly responsible for if an artist or group maintains a long-term career. I'm sorry, but do you know what a fandom IS?!
We have people praising the idea of the label handling everything. Wanting PR and pay0la to unironically represent the success of the people they say they support. They clearly aren't aware of the many MANY horror stories of artists being robbed blind thanks to bad contracts.
And not just normalizing and praising the industry doing whatever it can to rig the game...talking up streaming over sales when we KNOW these platforms directly control who hears what most of the time. When you're not in control, how is THAT organic?
The thing about social media & streaming platforms is that they allow you to take in information and music passively. You aren't required to go anywhere else.

In fact, it's actually hard to get people on Twitter to leave the site to go elsewhere.
When streaming became the dominant method of taking in music (in the US market), people could enjoy music for free or subscribe monthly. They were no longer obligated to go out of their way to buy music.
The day fandoms chose streaming subscriptions over sales, they chose to support the collective, not their faves. I'm not saying nobody should stream, but how can you read this, as a fan, and not worry?
Also, how can you praise the label that takes the lion's share of the earnings for the art this person you claim to love? How can you praise the platform that colluded with the label to take the majority of the money a song earns and literally pay your fave pennies?
ARMY, we are dealing with people who refuse to leave Twitter to go to iTunes, who believe that sales are perverse and that the best form of support is a clout-seeking shady post on social media. They are like vengeful spirits bound to a building, unable to go beyond.


A deeper dive into the confusion between social media following and active, off-social media career support, and why the refusal to tell the difference is jeopardizing and killing off a lot of once-promising music careers.

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