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The Hard-Knock Life Of Superfans And Musicians

image from images.publicradio.org In his column for a Seattle Weekly blog, singer and songwriter John Roderick gets to the heart of the tension between superfans and musicians. Together, they walk a thin line. Superfans do work on behalf of the groups they love. Only to find themselves neglected or taken for granted down the road.

New fans come along and the group isn't able to give them the access they crave. Superfans get disappointed. They're happy to see groups grow and gain more traction. Yet, all of the sudden, if they deem themselves to be mistreated, they start to second guess that show they booked and the cookies they baked.

On the other hand, the group is trying to control their access. Fans don't always understand that the artist's time is precious too. They want to exchange stories and be the superfans best friend, but they need the energy to perform later on.

At the same time, superfans are living the lives of an up-and-coming artist themselves. Their love for the music comes before everything else. Anything they can do to express their love for the music comes before anything else they do.

After awhile, once the energy of the superfan wears out, they begin to become as exhausted and jaded as the artists that they long to get closer to. The group get popular, and as Roderick suggests, soon both the group and its superfans are pinning for the simpler times of yesteryear. Here's how he describes the dynamic:

"Superfans want access, but bands, especially bands on tour, have to CONTROL access to themselves... Time is limited and demands are high. As bands get bigger, the demands increase and the time available shrinks. Access to the band, especially the kind of unmediated and casual access a superfan treasures, is one of the first things to go after sleep and good nutrition. It's never apparent to the fan how much energy it takes a musician to sit and have a relaxed one-on-one with them... before... a show.

Superfans have a lot at stake in the relationship, too. They put their love of music ahead of many other... priorities. In a sense they are living the rock-and-roll life just as surely as the musicians themselves--in many cases WAY more hardcore--and the consequences are real. Fans can start to suffer from exhaustion and jadedness just as badly as the musicians they love. Jadedness is the feeling that there's nothing good or interesting any more... nothing you do matters... everything gets ruined..." (Read on.)


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