Fans stunt artists’ growth through selfish acts

Emma Raleigh

Musicians have never been able to gain more exposure than now with the use of the internet. Websites and social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr have made it possible for some artists to gain quick and widespread popularity.

When musicians gain popularity, largely over the internet, they eventually land either a record deal or a spot on a television show. This is great, right? However, instead of focusing on an artist’s development and success, too many fans complain about their favorite artist becoming “too famous”.

There is an attitude among our generation that we own certain bands and artists. People seem to go on the hunt for new music, and when someone finds an obscure, underground, or brand new musician, they lay claim to that artist. The odd thing is, they become upset when they hear one of that artists’ songs played on the radio or when someone posts their lyrics on Facebook. If it disturbs you so much that someone else enjoys that artist, did you really like them in the first place?

On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who don’t venture out in the world of music. They are content with listening only to what happens to be on the radio and what happens to be mainstream. Some are even afraid of liking different or unheard of music for fear of what others may think. Many music aficionados find this irritating, and even more so when a song by their favorite artist suddenly becomes popular on the air, seemingly overnight. They almost feel insulted that the artist that they worked so hard to find, just fell into the laps of others who merely listen to the radio.

A perfect example of this is “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People, which was played on the radio almost constantly. With such a catchy beat, who cares what the song is saying? Avid fans of the Los Angeles band could have been happy for their sudden popularity, but instead, they were bothered by the fact that others only knew one song by the band, and didn’t know that the lyrics were related to the Columbine School Shooting of 1999, in which 13 people were killed. I agree that this is problematic because the deeper meaning of the song shouldn’t be reduced to just a number on the music charts. In fact, the song was actually written as a platform for youth gun violence awareness. The Foster The People album holds far more than the single tune everyone seems to be humming.

The Indie band, Bon Iver, is a prime example. Bon Iver has been producing music for several years and has a fairly strong fan base following them. The soothing voice of lead singer Justin Vernon satisfied fans until the fateful day he won a Grammy award for Best New Artist. Fans immediately recoiled with inflamed reactions, saying they didn’t want everyone to listen to Bon Iver. This, to me, is ridiculous because I’m a fan of Bon Iver. When I found out the news, I was happy, and encouraged others to listen to the band. Objecting to others listening to this band is almost like saying “how dare they be successful.”

Another band receiving this treatment is the British-Irish boy band, One Direction. The UK-based boy band was formed in 2010 and has recently taken over websites like Tumblr. With dashing good looks and angelic voices, “the boys”, as they are fondly called, have girls all over the globe falling in love. These “directioners” will take any opportunity to snap up new fans. Again, why should one fan act so maliciously towards another just because they’re new to the fandom?

Another thing to consider is the future success of the band. In the past, bands like U2 and The Beatles started off small and gained immense popularity over the years. Bands like these are now legends, and are still listened to and it’s because of their massive exposure. Bands that get this same kind of attention could very well become legends, but only if we aren’t selfish with them.

As fans, we should be happy for musicians, and not try to hide them from the world. Just like you would want every success for a friend or family member, you should want the same thing for your favorite artist, and help other people know them as an artist and beyond the one song on the radio that they know.