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Fan Clubs: Bleeding Us Dry?

This topic has been on my mind for awhile now: fan clubs. Nearly every band/artist has one. Most are official. Some are truly run by die-hard music loves like you and me. Most are usually part of an LLC, earning money for the band's bottom line.

I want to know when it became a rule that you have to be a fan?

Fan club memberships these days are way too expensive. The only time I buy a fan club membership is for better concert tickets. We'll address that injustice in a moment. 

The going rate for most clubs I investigated is around $40.

Seriously. Forty bucks. For what? For nothing really. The chance to talk on an exclusive forum. Maybe a crappy T-shirt. The option to buy better concert tickets.

In 2008, I joined three fan clubs, all in hopes of getting better tickets. I do not like going to shows and watching from the back. So, I figure I'll pony up the cash for my chance at the front row. This is good - in theory.

I belong to the Motley Crue, George Michael and AC/DC fanclubs. Motley Crue and AC/DC promised me a T-shirt. I never saw the Motley one and I'm not holding my breath on AC/DC either. In all three instances, I did garner better seats than I would have without the membership - but come on. Whatever happened to ticket equity?  For Motley, I was close enough to touch the stage. This is an example o fan club ticketing truly working. For AC/DC, I'm not nearly as close. For George Michael I was close, but all the floor seats went to fan club members that upgrade to special VIP packages.

What the hell is up with that? In some cases, those exclusive packages cost $500 a person... and there is no guarantee of meeting the artist! There is no way I would EVER shell out that kind of money for such a package. I just can't do it - plus, it's not fair.

I think fan clubs are a case of "what have you done for me lately." I'm sure membership drops off when a band isn't touring, but that's to be expected. If such pay-for-fandom clubs offered a true value-add for customers - and yes, please believe we are mere customers to these clubs - then maybe more of us would join in off touring years.

I remember joining Aero Force One when I was in high school. I loved Aerosmith so much then - and I really wanted to be a part of that club. For whatever reason, I thought belonging to the club made me a little special. After all, I'd plunked down some very hard earned cash and pledged allegiance to my band. The only problem was - I never got anything in return for that membership. I think I had a card or something. When I was in high school the Internet was not as it is today. There were no forums to speak of - so I can't even imagine all the "perks" I received. I know I had to pay extra for my T-shirt. I didn't use the fan club passcode for tickets, either. I don't get it.

Forty bucks is just too much for the "hope" of a better concert ticket. I think I've had it with such clubs and I'm drawing the line. No more, no more.

What do you think of pay-to-join fanclubs?

Reader Comments (9)

You fucking said it! I love Motley Crue, but I can't afford to shell out 40 bucks just to be in the fan club (not to mention it's probably run by the same assholes who turned me off of the Shout boards but that's another story). It's cool that they offer a shirt but everyone I hear from says it's nothing special--certainly not worth $40. I'm sure the guys are making plenty off ticket sales and merchandise, so why the need to screw us out of more money with the fan club?
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersixx6sixx
It's pretty sad that you have to get tickets from some fan club site and pay extra cash just to get tickets closer ti the stage.. Here in Finland there is no such thing as a "fan club only" area at gigs, it's just about getting there a few hours before the doors open and run like hell to get to the front row. Or then come just as the doors open and fight your way to the front row..
How can they invent a such a stupid system in America? It doesn't sound fair at all to the average fan to not have the chance to get close to the stage without paying 40$ for a fan club membership and then maybe get close..
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNikkeSixx
i can only speak about the Aerosmith FC, as that's the only one i've ever been a member of...

Back in the day (i'm 45 FYI), it was pretty reasonable in cost, and when you joined it was one price, but the next years, they had renewals which were half the cost (and you didn't get all the worthless crap they sent with it). The longer you were a member, the better seats you got. I eventually got to 6th row center for my local show.

Then they switched FC managment companies...the price increased, the renewal went away, and the tickets went to a lottery - and you didn't know where your seats were until the day of the you could have been a member for 15 years, and been in the 30th row or worse, it was all luck of the draw.

Then they switched again - you can do a quick search on most any Aerosmith fan site and see the ticked off people everywhere. I think now most true fans know better than to join the FC now. And let's not forget the lawsuit from the fans who purchased tickets to a show in Hawaii that Aero canceled to play a more lucrative show in Chicago (which looks like it may actually be awarded).

Now, lets look at the tour packages...Some of the Aero packages can run into the thousands, with no guarantee that you'll see anyone from the band ever. If the band knows there are some people with enough cash to pay the price, they'll continue to offer them...and the true fan will be left in the dust. Everyone hopes that the band really isn't aware of what's going on, and that if they do, they'll fix it, but it's been going on for years at this point, so unless they are totally clueless, they know what they are doing.

I'm a huge Aero fan, but they sold out long ago and became a "it's all about the money - screw the fans" machine. I'm sure I'll never attend another show, nor purchase anything they put out again.
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterspiffy
I am over the $40.00 fan club as well. The bands can't make any money off of their CD's due to illegal downloading, so they found a new way to rip off their fans.
I got great AC/DC tickets without the fan club bullshit cause that's all it is!
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlajustice77
Used to be a member of the Bon Jovi fan club for the passes to get near front (nothing else was worth joining for), until the promoters started charging extra for front circle seats then the fan club charged extra on top of that for your early entry pass!!!! (And being in the UK, all fan club events are based in the US, so we never get the benefit of those either)
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlove-bomb-baby
As much as I agree that these fan clubs are a huge ripoff, they wouldn't exist if there weren't suckers lining up to fork over their cash to join them. This is just a symptom of our free market economy. If consumers stop paying to join these clubs, the clubs would go away.

Finally, not to spin this topic off in another direction, but to Rob Rockitt, you have really drank the recording industry Kool-aid by blaming illegal downloading for the decline in CD sales.
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBob
I hate fan clubs, it means people with access to more money get to be closer, thats not right. i have to wait a long time for enough money to go to concerts (i'm only 15 and I sont have a job) theres no way i could get enough for fanclubs. Sucks.
October 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLucifer
Err - paying money for a club to have access to the official forum of a band? It looks like I'm listening to a different kind of music since I never encountered that. All official forums I visit are for free and those bands don't have such fancy fanclubs.

I guess it's a good thing to be not into these HUGE overrated bands after all. ;)
October 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterXandra73

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