Repeater: 003: Is Fan Entitlement a Problem?

You are not entitled to anything, from any artist, and if you think you are, go and think about this again.

“We owe you nothing
You have no control”

Fugazi – Merchandise
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This issue – one of entitlement – has reared it’s head again recently in a number of ways, most notably in the butthurt caused by the furore over a fake setlist, which seemed actually to be a lighthearted comment at the desperation by some fans to get any artefact that they can. But really, the “setlist”, as it was, was a side-issue.

The bigger question is: Do we, as a fanbase, ask too much of artists?

Has this always been a problem?

I’m not sure it always has. I’m fairly certain that when I was younger fans were more respectful, perhaps, both of the artists and others. But then, in the nineties there wasn’t instant ways of “connecting” with a band like there is now on social media, if you were lucky you might meet an artist before or after a show, or go to an in-store signing (yeah, remember them? They still happen occasionally at Rough Trade in London at least), or you might be on a band’s mailing list or early internet discussion group. But there wasn’t the “connection” online that there now is, that is rather obviously a double-edged sword for so many artists.

Nowadays you get up-to-the-minute information on forthcoming music, on forthcoming gigs, even explanations or discussion on previous releases. And what do I see constantly from “fans”? “Come to [x] city” (particularly annoying if a band is announcing a European tour, and they see comments from different continents), “why isn’t this being released in [x] format”, the list goes on.

Frankly it’s no surprise that I hear about bands being tetchy online, and delivering either snarky or rude responses. You know why? Because I too would find it difficult to be polite in the face of a torrent of entitled bullshit.

And yes, I’m a writer about music, and my comments aren’t always positive. But you know why? It’s because I’m a critic. My entire role here is to provide critical analysis, or a viewpoint that may or may not be used by others to assist in the decision of whether to check out a band, go see them live, or shell out hard-earned cash on them. I am not paid by any band, and nor do I carry advertising. I get promos, yes, but I have long made it clear that I do not have the time to listen to or write about everything I receive (seriously folks, if you heard some of the stuff I get, let’s just say I’d be finding it a whole lot more difficult to be positive about the music I do write about), but I do my best to give everything I’m sent at least a bit of my time. After all, they’ve made the effort to send their work, the least I can do is give them back a bit of mine.

You wouldn’t believe some of the e-mails or comments I’ve had about daring not to be 100% positive about one band or the other over the years, either.

I could also insist on bands then sharing any writing I do about them, but what would that solve? Frankly, nothing. If a band wants to share my writing, that’s cool, and if they don’t, no problem at all. I’m not in this for the hits and stardom, I write about music because I love it. And sure, there are entitled bands, who want everything without lifting a finger, or post jealously about other bands’ success, or bitch about bad reviews in public (or simply ones they disagree with), but generally, bands work really fucking hard, and can go about things the way they wish.

And that includes encores. They are a bit of a contrived thing, yes, but if a band wants to do one, fine. Two, or three, if they are good enough, and the crowd want it, why not? (I remember an exceptional Katatonia show a year or two back, where they were genuinely surprised to be called out for a second encore, without having planned for it, and played an old crowd favourite that got an insane reception). Or if the band don’t want to do one, accept it. The band are playing, it is their fucking choice.

There is, however, one area where this arrogant fucking mindset could be put to good use. Turn your anger not on the bands who are playing, but those who are fucking you over. Those who buy tickets just to resell on secondary sites. The touts using bots to hoover up all the good tickets every fucking time. The secondary sites themselves. The ticket outlets in cahoots with the secondary sites. See more in my previous rant on Repeater: 002.

Also, buy some fucking music. Stop downloading it all for free using peer-to-peer. You aren’t being “edgy”, you are not fucking helping anymore. If bands are self-releasing, or releasing it through a small label, you are genuinely dicking them over nowadays. Your £10, or $10, or €10, matters.

We need to stop the mindset that just because we’ve bought a release, or a piece of merchandise, or a gig ticket, that we are entitled to a share, a say in what an artist does. You paid that money to allow an artist to continue expressing themselves in whatever way they see fit.

If they ask for your opinion, sure, provide it. But don’t go expecting that your answer is the right one, or that it will get a response. They don’t have to do so, and neither do you.

Oh, and this should be clear enough by now, but also: keep your fucking hands to yourself at gigs, and have some respect for women.

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