Last week, my blogger partner wrote a fantastic blog about how what really matters in the world of fandom is one’s memories and experiences. If you have not read it, I recommend doing so. You can find it here. I enjoy blogs that got me thinking and this one definitely did. I could not argue with her premise that memories and friendships are more important than stuff, merchandise, and memorabilia. That being said, is it wrong to collect? Is it wrong to buy? Why do I? Now, before I dive into those deeper questions, let me be clear. She wasn’t criticizing people who buy merchandise, at least I didn’t take it that way. No, it was more about why stuff doesn’t matter much to her. I have to admit that I like to buy memorabilia. I don’t think there is anything wrong about doing so but her blog forced me to think about why I do. Here’s what I came up with:
Buying merchandise is one way that I can support the artist. Bands and musical artists don’t get the money they once did from selling albums. People don’t buy music like they used to since there are other methods to hear and listen to music. Yes, they go on tour and sell tickets. Yes, ticket prices are out of control. How much of that goes to the band/artist? My guess, not knowing the ins and outs of the music industry, is that they do not get as much as we might think. From what I do know, some of the money they make from concert tickets pay for things like studio costs, producers, etc., which again limits their personal profits. Merchandise, on the other hand, probably provides more of the extra profits. Yes, of course, you can buy stuff at concerts but you can always buy merchandise on their website. I bet they make even more profits there. Now, I’m sure that many of you are saying: “Why do you care? They make a lot of money. You don’t have to worry about what they make.” That’s true. That being said, this is the one way that I know that I can tangibly and visually show my support. I don’t need to but I want to.
This leads me right to the next idea. Here’s the thing. Seeing Duran merchandise or wearing a Duran t-shirt makes me happy. Fandom should be fun and should make me feel good. When I wear a Duran shirt or hang out in my Duran filled office, I feel like I’m in my happy place. Does that feel as good as seeing the band perform live or hanging out with my friends? No, of course, it does not, but it is something in between those times. It also makes me feel closer to the band, the people I’m a fan of, in a weird way. It shows that I’m thinking about the band. Interestingly enough, it also feel closer to other fans.
When I wear a Duran shirt or a Duran mask or something like this, it is a signal to others. It tells people that I’m a fan. It tells them that I’m such a big fan that I am shouting it out, loudly and proudly. I remember, as a kid, whenever I would see someone wearing a Duran shirt. I knew that we shared something. We were both fans. We both loved these five guys and the music that they make. It was an instant connection, which isn’t easy to find anywhere ever, but especially when you are an awkward kid. Even now, as an adult, I loved seeing people wear shirts about things and people that I like. It makes me smile and reminds me that I’m not alone in my fandom.
So, what about the rest of you? How many of you are more like me in that you do buy some merchandise or are you more like Rhonda, not buying much? If you are more like me, why do you do it?