Fight The Establishment Without Dividing Your Fanbase!
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Perhaps I am showing my age, but what attracted me to music as a youngster was the rebellious nature of the rock stars.
In the 1950’s we had Elvis Presley offending the older generation with his ‘provocative’ hip swivelling and leg shaking moves.
The 1960’s asked the question, ‘Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?’
The 1970’s saw the beginning of rock n’ roll debauchery and acts using their status as a platform to ‘fight the establishment’.
Music was seen as so ‘dangerous’ in the 1980’s we saw the emergence of the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre) launching a campaign to use Parental Advisory labels on albums to warn parents against music with explicit or obscene content.
Oasis in the 1990’s sparked controversy and ‘outrage’ when Noel Gallagher made national headlines claiming, ‘Oasis are bigger than God’.
Fast forward to present day, and where are the rebellious music stars now?
COVID has clearly changed the face of the music industry in more ways than lost revenue on the live scene over the past 18 months. Stars from the past and present are now urging the old and young to take the vaccine. You only have to read comments on social media to see that this is a topical subject which has caused a divide in opinion. So, is this the best way to build a fanbase or are you more likely to lose some?
Paul Stanley from KISS recently boasted on his Facebook page:
‘SIXTEEN DAYS since my Covid symptoms. TWENTY FIVE MILES on my bike today. I'm back and NEVER would have been through it like this without being double vaxxed and proper medications’.
At this year’s Isle Of Wight Festival, Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs asked the crowd to cheer for each vaccine manufacture they had received when calling them out. This was followed by boos when he said, ‘Let’s hear it for the anti-vaxxers’.
Roger Taylor from Queen was quoted in a recent interview that ‘anti vaxxers must be ignorant and stupid’.
Below is a small selection of comments made by followers upon reading the posts and news items:
Please get out of politics!! That jab is not safe for everyone including myself. Please quit pushing this!
I don't agree with your medical vaccinations and what not, and as much as I would love to stay on your page I am leaving!
What a f••king sell out!
Not cool to alienate your own fans for any reason!
Another elite peddler!
Ask yourself this. If you ran your own business, would you risk sharing your opinion on a subject if there was a chance you lost half of your customers? I’m assuming your answer would be no. So why are music stars putting themselves in this position?
They say that ‘all publicity is good publicity’ but for me, seeing these acts supporting authority and mega rich pharmaceutical companies does not sit easy on me, whether you are for the vaccine or not. Have they forgotten that rock n’ roll is all about telling the powerful elites to go f••k themselves? Or are they being paid huge amounts of money to become ‘influencers’….?
Dividing your fan base on subjects such as this is risky. Perhaps for the acts mentioned above, it will not affect them as they have already made their fortunes in the music world. But would it be wise for an up and coming act to take a similar stance supporting corporate power? It’s hard enough as it is, for emerging bands and artists to make a living through their music. Dividing their audience could potentially end their career before it has even started.
So, what should new acts speak out about which is less likely to cause a divide but still has a rebellious nature to it?
The environment is a perfect subject for new acts to ‘fight the establishment’, as it is quite clear that world leaders are not doing enough to combat this problem. You can even include COVID in this without the risk of losing some of your fan base.
The impact that COVID has had on the environment is catastrophic following a surge in pollution from disposable products such as face masks and hand sanitizer bottles which was highlighted last year by UNCTAD. Turn this negative into a positive by raising awareness of the crisis to your fan base and encouraging them to buy reusable masks if they believe in them, and bottles with your own band/name logo on them.
Mental Health is another subject widely talked about but appears to have little interest with world leaders due to the lack of financial reward in it.
Lockdowns have seen a huge increase in mental health over the past 18 months through bereavements, isolation, loss of income and fear (mainly caused by the media). It is also something a lot of musicians and probably your fanbase can personally relate with too. With the constant threat of further lockdowns always looming, this is a problem that is likely to get worse before it gets better. By creating ways to bring this more and more to the attention of people in power, you are not only supporting a worthy cause, but also raising your musical profile in other people’s eyes.
The effects of the pandemic have seen a huge increase in food bank usage. Last winter, it was estimated that 6 emergency food parcels were handed out every minute in the UK according to The Trussell Trust.
This is another subject your fanbase is likely to support and provides you with another good reason to call out politicians for not doing enough to help. Raise awareness of this on your social media pages, ask for donations at your gigs, call out major supermarkets and food outlets if you have evidence they are wasting food, maybe even become a spokesperson for one of the charities. This in return will attract more people to your music.
By speaking out at your gigs and on social media about these issues and pointing the finger at those to blame or are not doing enough, you are bringing more positive attention to yourself. Cause a little controversy where the only risk you are taking is potentially losing a politician as a fan, but at the same time creating encouraging headlines that can help increase your fan base instead of decrease.
With the help of social media, COVID, BREXIT, and Trump to name but a few subjects, have all caused huge divides in opinion over the past few years. As a result the world is a more dangerous place to live in and in some cases has contributed to the loss of friends and family through fall outs. The next generation of music acts can help change this campaigning against more positive subjects and letting the people in power know.
Why risk losing your fanbase when there are plenty of ways you can make it grow.