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Should concerts be reserved for ‘dedicated fans’ or is it gatekeeping?


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Should concerts be reserved for ‘dedicated fans’ or is it gatekeeping?

The music industry has seen a transformation like no other in the last few years – given the rise of short-form videos, platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels and Youtube shorts have become significant tools for discovering new music and breaking new artists. These apps have created a unique avenue for artists to connect with a vast global audience, often leading to record deals, chart-topping hits and catapulting them to fame in a shorter time. Many record labels and industry professionals monitor TikTok to identify new trends and emerging artists.

While this new landscape provides room for every type of musician to do their own thing – some have also realized that the longevity of music has diminished. Most of them remain one-hit wonders as the ‘algorithm’ pushes a new artist and song almost every other week. This also means that there is new music we can discover every second, and the so-called rules of ‘what makes you a fan’ have changed.

It’s the modern-day version of shaming someone for wearing an AC/DC shirt and only knowing their most popular songs. Does knowing only one song bar you from being an AC/DC fan? Some people think it does. Perhaps wearing a shirt with the band’s name on it is even a passable offence, but what about when such listeners take up spaces in concerts just because it’s cool?

Over the course of the last few months, musician Steve Lacy has experienced a similar dilemma. Lacy was already a decently successful R&B musician with a substantial fanbase, but the hook of his song ‘Bad Habit’ going viral on social media catapulted him to worldwide fame almost overnight. 

While on tour, videos of his shows started popping up on Twitter and Instagram, showing a near-dead crowd that only showed any enthusiasm when he began singing ‘Bad Habits’. Most of them did not even know that song entirely, only singing along to the hook of the song ‘I Wish I knew you wanted me’ that had gone viral months before. Naturally, fans of the artist, those who had been following him since before his TikTok fame were angry– and found the crowd to be disrespectful. They believed the tickets could have been better utilized in the hands of those who actually knew his songs and loved him as a musician.

“While I think it’s really disrespectful for people to attend a concert without doing their due research on the artist, I don’t think there are any qualifications of being a fan,” says Anvi, 21, adding, “I have always thought of concerts as a way for people to discover new music before social media came into the picture. So we shouldn’t limit concerts to self-proclaimed dedicated fans, they are a perfect way for someone to get familiar with the artists.”

Jayesh, 19, feels the same way. “I once went to a Ritviz concert with some friends and I had no clue about any of his songs. By the end of the night, he was one of my favourite artists and remains to this day. I go to concerts to enjoy music in general and have fun. I am paying for the ticket, so what right does anyone have to tell me I shouldn’t be there?”, he said.

While concerts are ultimately a service you pay for, they are also a wonderful platform for artists to personally connect with their admirers and some people are of the opinion that the space should be reserved for ‘true fans’.

Rumi, 24, has been an avid ‘swiftie’ since she was in school and expressed her disappointment with our recent obsession with making all experiences ‘social-media centric’. “An ex-classmate shifted to the US last year for her job. She posted a selfie at the Eras concert recently, and I hate admitting but it was infuriating. She hated Taylor’s music,” she shared, adding, “I just think it’s a waste of good money to go to a concert of an artist you don’t even like, just so you can show off on social media. I’ve noticed a lot of people do that now, and I’ve also been guilty of going to certain events or parties just so I can post a story or two on Instagram and I don’t think that’s healthy in the long run.”

From Beyonce to Taylor Swift, some of the biggest musicians are on tour right now and fans don’t like sharing their space with people who only supposedly attend because ‘it’s cool’. “I’m not one to spend money on artists just because they’re famous, but I wouldn’t judge anyone who does,” says Aaryen, 20. “I was a BTS Army years before India went K-pop crazy, but I don’t resent any of the new fans, even if some of them were only there when it was the ‘new cool’. Sometimes you just go through phases, you discover new artists and then their music stops resonating with you, doesn’t make you any less of a fan,” he added.

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