Does music have a super fan problem?

Something I wrote in response to a piece about super fans that has sparked debate in my social channels so thought I’d share here for your thoughts:

Does music have a superfan problem?

Part of me wonders if the blinkered lazer focus on superfans (the VIP ticket buying, 3 different versions of an album buying, patreons and stans), which Eamonn Forde explains so well in his recent piece for Music Biz Worldwide, is because it’s now near impossible to reach a casual audience without spending hideous sums on adverts, as there are so few impactful “earned media” spots (read: press, radio and TV) or viral stunts that will connect outside of an artists silo. Hits now exist in an increasingly small echo chamber.

The industry is so fragmented that tracks rarely crossover anymore, unless some blip in the algorithm turns its warm light on. Or something great lands in the world when the attention economy isn’t gawping at something else.

Instead of utopia, we have an era of abundance, where the mainstream has become a shallow stream with a wafer thin deep end. We have reached a point (or a peak as Eamonn points out) that feels like wealth extraction and a kind of intensive content farming that turns the nutrient rich soil into barren sand. We need to start looking at music as an ecosystem. Thinking more about the interconnection of everything. Start to discuss and understand music fans and fanbases holistically rather than as target demographics.

With the recent Bandcamp news and various music magazines closing, it increasingly feels like we need some publicly owned (or at least musician or music fan owned) infrastructure to stabilise what feels like a constantly eroded road to nowhere, covered in billboards.

Here’s the piece that inspired this little brain dump Superfans and supine fans: the music industry is getting its priorities the wrong way around - Music Business Worldwide

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