Written by: Katherine Penman
The image of fan clubs have changed alongside the introduction and fast advancement of the internet and social media. The internet has changed fan clubs so much it makes us ask, do musicians even have traditional fan clubs anymore?
While fan clubs have been around for nearly 200 years, what we think of as fan clubs started more around the rise of artists like Elvis and The Beatles. Groups of fans who had a strong passion for a singer or band that would meet up and share information. Without the internet, fan clubs depended on publications to get out information and hear from other fans.
The National Association of Fan Clubs (NAFC) distributed a fan club directory from 1979 until 2002 which contained contact information of fan club presidents or point of contact. This was how fans could find and join fan clubs. Members would usually pay a fee and in return get newsletters, be able to participate in conventions or fan meetups, and subscribe to fanzines. After the rise of the internet, the NAFC stopped their publications as it became harder to keep competing with the internet.
Fan sites became popular places where fans could post about their favorite artists and what began to rise next were fan pages. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter made it extremely easy for fans to create free fan pages where they could post updates, fan art, fan fiction, and edits of their favorite celebrity. The large amount of fan pages allows fans to curate the fan content they want to see. Fans can choose to follow accounts which make posts in the style they prefer and oftentimes have many options of accounts to follow.
While fan accounts seem to be taking over, there’s still some active fan clubs which fans can take part of and benefit from. Early fan clubs were mostly run by fans though there were some “official” fan clubs which were run by the artists management team. Today “official” fan clubs are becoming more popular as fans are able to receive benefits from the clubs. A good example of this is the BTS Official ARMY Membership. Members pay a fee yearly and receive a membership kit, access to member only merch, member only content, early access to tickets, and more!
Another great example is With The Band’s modern day version of a fan club, Fan Crews! When you join an artists Fan Crew through With The Band, you receive perks like exclusive content, behind the scenes, meet and greets, and merch only available to members of the Fan Crew!
While fan accounts have taken the place of what traditional fan clubs did, artists teams and fan engagement platforms like With the Band, are beginning to redesign fan clubs around the internet. These new versions of fan clubs offer bigger perks than the traditional fan run fan club was able to provide, while still keeping the sense of community within the fan club! Official fan clubs continue to grow in popularity and hopefully soon your favorite artist will start their own fan club!
If you want to get more involved in fan communities,
join a Fan Crew on the With the Band app!