Has being a music fan become an issue of classism?
How dare you get tickets to that tour, over someone who spent all their money on overpriced, low quality merchandise!
Being a music fan used to be fun, live shows were exhilarating but it was equally as exciting just to hear them on the radio. Now, it feels like a constant competition over who’s the bigger fan or even who’s “allowed” to like an artist.
First it was just harmless jokes over people wearing Primark Nirvana and Rolling Stone shirts despite not being able to name a song. But then came the internet and new phrases like “fake fan” are thrown about to anyone who hasn’t studied an artist’s discography or isn’t willing to splash the cash for merch or a tour. You can’t even say you like an artist if you weren’t there from day one of their career at some small, sticky floored venue in your local city.
Just this week the long awaited presale for Taylor Swift’s UK leg of her esteemed Eras Tour began and Swifties have been battling it out on Twitter over who “deserves” tickets. Some say you shouldn’t go if you don’t know her debut album, you shouldn’t go if you weren’t there to support her in the VMA’s incident, you shouldn’t go if you only became a fan because of TikTok.
Pause. When did TikTok, once seemingly a new exciting opportunity for artists to grow, become such a taboo topic in music culture? The ultimate fear is for your niche, underground artist to suddenly blow up on TikTok and their shows subsequently being bombarded by so-called “fake fans”. Gone are the days where we could just be happy that our favourite artist is finally getting deserved recognition.
The problem, according to Swifties, is that it is now hard for so-called “true” fans to get tickets due to so many more casual listeners wanting to go. Some say there should be rewards or presales for fans who have purchased a lot of her music and merchandise. But this all seems to have one thing in common: money.
Alleé, a Swiftie since 2006, tweeted about the unfair discourse surrounding this tour, gaining a lot of likes and responses. In an interview with her, a key question arose: has being a music fan become an issue of classism?
Whilst Alleé condemns those ‘who call themselves “fans” but do things like stalk and harass Taylor’, she disagrees that there is such thing as a “fake fan”.
‘the discourse I’ve seen recently about “fake fans” tends to be geared more toward people who call themselves fans but didn’t go to past tours, or don’t own a ton of merch, or weren’t active on “stan” social media platforms until recently, etc. By that definition, I don’t think there’s a such thing as a “fake fan” because, to me, it’s silly to dictate whether someone is a fan or not based on those things. Especially because that definition of a fan seems to rely mostly on their ability to spend money supporting the artist or not, I think that’s incredibly classist and just downright ridiculous. Loving and supporting an artist does not and should not be determined by the amount of money you can spend.’
Tour tickets for artists such as Swift can be incredibly steep. In America, tickets were selling for thousands of dollars and other major artists such as Beyoncé were at similar prices. Then there’s the merchandise issue, why pay £70 for official merchandise when some fan made etsy merch is available for £20? Or better yet, some people just aren’t interested in spending any money on merch. Music fans aren’t just those with disposable incomes- they’re children, students with no spare cash, parents just trying to feed their children, they’re from disadvantaged backgrounds, they have rent to pay, debts to pay off, mouths to feed and the one thing they all have in common is the music. The music that grounds them, comforts them and uplifts them. But because stan culture decided being a fan equated to financially funding an artist they are classed as a “fake fan” by a small, sad corner of the internet.
For Alleé, her journey as a Swiftie has been long but it wasn’t until this tour came around that she finally got to be a part of the crowds going wild in stands, and attended her first ever Taylor show. Does this make her less of a fan because she wasn’t able to spend the money on tickets until now? Absolutely not, and her dedication shines through as she reveals she heard ‘Our Song and Picture to Burn for the first time on MySpace in 2006’. MySpace was the most popular social media platform of the time, and no one was claiming you weren’t a fan for finding an artist through the site. TikTok is just today’s MySpace (figuratively speaking…before Millennials rush to defend the site they grew up on).
‘New fans are fans, period. In my opinion, it shouldn’t matter when you became a fan. The point is to enjoy the music and support the artist, so whether you’ve been a fan for 13 years or 13 days, it doesn’t matter’, says Alleé.