48% of music listeners on Twitter are well informed about musicians that they follow and are in-sync with musical trends in the world. The most active fans thus, divide into sub-groups that are devoted to one particular artist. In the sense, a follower of Ariana Grande will have a number of followers under them, who are automatically devoted to the pop-star.
Thus, widening the artist’s reach and incoherently, the dedication towards the artist.
These group members called #Arianators for instance, come together on #NewMusicFriday to live-Tweet their first impressions of a new album. A thread of conversation follows discussing the time and location of when the next single will drop, along with city destinations if and when a tour is decided etc.
They also discuss red carpet looks, award show performances, the underdog wins, and if the celebrity is involved in some beef. The #BTSArmy in the past has garnered unpopularity for taking down EXO fans for the same. They are defensive and quick to comment on critique.
Social media- A playground for music critics?
Every musician, artist and creator needs authentic critique for their work. Not only that they also need to know if their consumers are suggesting or demanding changes. The need for artists to be constantly validated comes with the package of being a modern-day artist.
Also, the internet makes it the perfect place to build audience engagement and endorse in campaigns. The influences an artist makes is not limited to their music alone.
Social media has perfectly created a reality within hyper-reality for artists and consumers alike. The fandoms that are created due to this is what psychological professionals would describe as a para-social relationship.
The social media fanatics take onto music as a responsibility to help dictate the economics of music. The more these people hold power, the more they have the ability to boost the popularity of an artist, thereby, increasing consumption.
Two out of three (63%) users discover new artists on social media whereas almost 60% of social media users visit streaming services to listen to music after they see an update, tweet or post.
53% of Twitter users view or interact with trending subjects or want to view posts from friends. Approximately, 51% use Twitter to follow or get updates from music artists and bands.
With additional features that each social media provides these days, access to an artist’s life is easier. These days Facebook and Instagram live events allow users and fans a real-time access to events, concerts, launches and releases.
Sometimes, the artists involve themselves in discussions and spats too.
This dedicated group of artists consider themselves responsible for amelioration. They are primary motivators to make their followers try something new or stream the latest song until it starts breaking chart records. Occasionally, there are heated arguments between fandoms that they take onto ridicule and exchange of abuses.
Who are these people?
A sub-culture group on the internet, especially Twitter, called “stans” are one of the major influencers in our daily music streaming habits. So much so, that they exhibit the power to shape and anoint breakthrough artists.
The term “stan” comes out of endearment, a portmanteau of stalker and fan, who geek out about their favourite musicians from across the globe. This group of people pick out trends like #SongOfTheSummer making escaping the song inevitable. Also, for the #FOMO culture, we are meant to accept, to avoid being a volunteer editor for Urban Dictionary.
Urban Dictionary defines “stan” as an overzealous fan for any celebrity. No, it is not just limited to stemming from Eminem’s song, Stan from 2002.
According to Twitter, “stans” are highly influential, 42% of Twitter music listeners say their friends look to them for advice on which music to listen to.
They also coin words for fans of artists, such as #Beliebers for the fans of Justin Beiber, The #Arianators for Ariana Grande, The #BeyHive for Beyonce, The #LittleMonsters for Lady Gaga, #Smilers for Miley Cyrus, #Sheerios for Ed Sheeran, #Selenanators for Selena Gomez and #BTSArmy for the K-Pop sensation, BTS.
This fandom culture does not make it safe for artists either
Popular culture, also known as pop culture or mass culture, is generally recognized by members of a society where a set of practices, beliefs and objects are dominant or ubiquitous for as long it lasts.
Pop culture isn’t a new tradition today nor is its potential to turn toxic and dangerous.
This culture has spanned to music in such a way that a popular artist on social media automatically enhances the sales in music. These “stans” are in return making popular artists make popular music. The wider the reach of the stars, the wider the appeal that is typically distributed to larger audiences through the music industry. This form of music is a stark contrast to traditional or folk music. Earlier, the dissemination of music took place through lyrical expressions and recordings, not too different in recordings right now but social media does it better for being flashy, fashionable and far-fetched.
In 2018, culture writer Wanna Thompson received a hateful message from rapper Nicki Minaj. Wanna shared the text which immediately resulted in a backlash from Minaj’s followers. This was a result of Minaj clapping back at the comment Wanna made on her Twitter account. So much so, that Wanna received hateful messages all across her social media, even email including threats to her daughter and suicide bait. A majority of these hateful comments were from the blinded fan-base of the artist. These fans took on themselves as a responsibility to protect Minaj.
In 2012, Zayn Malik, during his boyband days, One Direction, deleted his Twitter account for a brief moment. He said it was because he felt racist attack #Directioners made it unbearable for him to be on Twitter.
Not only that, since these fans are so deeply involved in an artist’s life, whether it is professional or personal, they are entitled to an extent of over-bearing.
Recently, Rihanna faced a strong backlash from one of her fans on releasing her album after three years. She had released her first seven albums in eight years before Anti released in 2016. Rihanna had posted a photo for her cosmetic brand, Fenty on her Instagram when she received a hate message saying,
“I don’t give a f*ck how many people think I am crazy for saying this. You. Said. We Wouldn’t. Have. To. Wait. As. Long. As. We. Did. For. Anti. I love u sis but get it together.”
Soon after, he admitted his guilt but he also said that the shade in his comments drew people to his comment which surely did garner 109 likes. Thus, impetus haters get also makes the fandom derive its strength in a toxic way.
The followers of Rihanna called #RihannaNavy stood up for the occasion and offered her support in such an instance.
How well does India understand “stan?”
Not too long ago when Eminem released the album, Kamikaze which soon resulted in a diss battle between the artist and Machine Gun Kelly. MGK’s Rap Devil, a response to Eminem’s Killshot initiated a beef between the two stars and sparked a debate amongst fans on who really won the battle.
Similarly, in India, a similar beef between Indian rappers Emiway Bantai and Raftaar spiked attention. There was much back-and-forth in the argument since Emiway dropped a diss track called Samajh Mein Aaya Kya, to which Raftaar responded with Sheikh Chilli.
These two camps divided between Indian rappers initiated a stan-dom of its own. Where fans are backed by information about their favourite artists like everywhere. So much so that Bantai and Raftaar’s back story makes the battle between fans relate to each of their lyrics.
Although the idea of fandom and stan-dom is bourgeoning in India, there are dedicated groups for artists like Arijit Singh who call themselves Arijitians, Kakkarians for Neha Kakkar etc.
However, due to the ease in internet access, India stood at 326.1 million social media users in 2018, which is expected to reach almost 448 million by 2023. Facebook being the most popular choice of social media as of now, the capacity to be an influencer of trends on Twitter seems afar. Nonetheless, that does not undermine the craze Indian fans possess for their stars.