Written by: Savannah Alday
Have you ever been to a show and seen a bunch of personalized signs? Some may say things like “I LOVE YOU” or “YOU’RE THE BEST!” Some people even bring huge cut-outs of heads of artists' to demonstrate the lengths they will go to for them. These signs as personalized and wonderful as they are can often be lost and not even seen due to the vast amounts of people in the audience. Not to mention if an artist is playing an arena there is no way they can see what someone is holding up in the back. This is what makes fan projects so amazing!
Fan projects are organized efforts by fans or artist teams that help all fans be seen. They are typically events that are organized prior to the concert and then go into action at the show. Fan projects for concerts are the most typical form, but the types of projects vary. To help give you an idea of what they look like, we’ve highlighted the best fan projects that stood out.
A project touched on in one of With The Band’s earlier blog posts was turning Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN into a rainbow for Kacey Musgraves when she visited music city back in November 2019.
Fans were able to assemble, making the plan to fill every cup holder in the arena with a different colored card matching the colors of the rainbow, which they distributed according to section. These slips of paper were no larger than a 5x8 index card. Fans would take them out once Kacey started to sing her song “Rainbow,” and hold their phone’s flashlight underneath to illuminate the card. The glowing rainbow filled the arena with an aura of magic that had both Kacey and her fans in awe. It was truly a special experience for everyone there.
Fan projects also have the ability to empower important messages.
During Shawn Mendes’ tour for his 2018 self-titled album, he performed at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. As he began to perform “Youth” fans held up homemade signs that read “We are the leaders of tomorrow.” Shawn is quoted as writing “Youth,” as a response to the Manchester bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert in 2017, saying “I wanted to write something about it but it had to be about the feeling for us as a generation when one of these things happens.” This message from fans affirmed for him that they heard his message and supported the youth empowerment movement he himself did not realize he was leading.
Fandoms should be credited as being the birthplaces of fan projects, evolving the concept even today. K-pop fan projects are where this fan movement started. BTS’s fandoms are by far some of the largest and most active collectives out there, spanning across the globe.
At this point bringing signs or glow sticks is almost a given. They just need to decide what the signs should say and what color glow stick they should bring. These groups have revolutionized fan projects by teaming with apps to conduct contests for their followers. There are hundreds of BTS fan projects, but a recent example was in June 2019. The US branch of the BTS fan collective known as BTS ARMY teamed with Tencent Webnovel for their BTS 6th Anniversary Project. Fans could submit letters, stories, songs, and whatever literature wise to Webnovels App. Each submission equaled 500 points with the goal of being a million! Once achieved fans were able to unlock the opportunity to grab a collectible coffee cup sleeve with the members of BTS on it, as well as an LED subway board ad in one of Seoul’s subways celebrating BTS’s 6th anniversary being put up in US BTS ARMY’s honor.
When the Jonas Brothers came to Nashville, TN on September 10, 2019, they had no idea what their fans had in store. Since this was their comeback tour the band’s fans wanted to show the brothers their gratitude.
Fans created the “Comeback
Team,” and the idea to hold up signs reading “Thank You For Coming Back To Us” while the Jonas Brothers sang their song “Comeback.” 16,000 of these signs were distributed to fans at Bridgestone Arena. As the brothers started singing “Comeback,” the whole arena held up these signs, which overwhelmed the guys. The song ended with all three of the brothers crying on stage!!! Nick Jonas later wrote on his Instagram:
“An arena full of signs (organized by the fans) that read thank you for coming back had my eyes feeling a bit watery. We have the best fans in the world. Thank you NASHVILLE. We love you.”
Fan projects, though started by fans, have reached a level of impact that even management can’t ignore.
While One Direction was filming “Where We Are,” a concert film shot in San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy. Their team wanted to find a way to highlight their fans in the movie. What they came up with created what is by far the best fan project to date. One Direction's management distributed plastic flags representing each member's home country to the floor section that they raised in celebration. However, it was the colorful plastic distributed to the second and third-tier seating, facing the stage that moved everyone watching. When raised the colors laid out the Italian flag and inside it read “We are a 1D family” spanning across both levels.
A remarkable sight to take in and as the movie showed it was not lost on all the members of One Direction nor the fans witnessing/participating.