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 pay...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.
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?