An Online Fandom Contest!

Come on Folks! I know you’re out there! I know you have stories! Last chance to share them! Don’t be shy!

WornFree is  a t-shirt company with at least one employee who loves this blog. She’s gonna put her t-shirts where her mouth is, or something like that, and give the shirt of your choice to two of you.

WornFree finds late 1960s and 1970s pictures of cool people in rock and roll wearing cool t-shirts, searches down and licenses the rights to those images, and reproduces the shirts.

Normally I wouldn’t do something like this. I like to keep this blog an advertisement/Press Release free zone. But they sent me one even after I told them I wouldn’t write about them just because they sent me a free shirt and I like it enough that I decided it wasn’t for me to turn down a couple of freebies on your behalf. Call me a sellout. Murketing in action.

Also, they must be cool because they included Lester Bangs and in the pricey indie hipster shop in downtown Lawrence, they’ve got three whole shelves of them on display.

So here’s the deal. During the next two weeks, in the comments (or via email if you’re shy), tell us your favorite story involving fans and the internet. I don’t care what kind of fans, I don’t care what kind of internet. tell stories that make us laugh, say “wow,” feel inspired, learn something, demonstrate how NEVER to do things, or otherwise move us.

I’ll pick my two favorites (if there’s only two entries, that’ll be easy!) and get them and WornFree together.

Comments (9) to “An Online Fandom Contest!”

  1. I don’t know if this will be funny, or whether it will be inspiring – but this is my story/my take about online fandom. Music has always been a big part of my life; as a child & teen my walls were plastered with pics of bands & artists, and I bought copious amounts of Tiger Beat & Teen Beat magazines, 8-tracks, records & cassettes. I joined fan clubs via snail mail and patiently awaited some acknowledgment from my favourite artists – had they received my letters? Even though I didn’t (ever) get any response, I was still a loyal fan; I attended concerts, bought t-shirts and modeled my own wardrobe after band images. Communication between fan/artist was often a one-way street back then, but that’s all we had – that and shared screams in the crowd with other fans (and maybe a pen pal or two). Today, my love of music continues. Granted, I may not have band pics on my walls (they’ve been replaced by video game posters in my office), but I’m still loyal to the bands I follow, I get excited at concerts, & I buy t-shirts. Some 30ish years after I bought my first ’45′ single (‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ by Rod Stewart) – fandom changed for me – because of the internet & social media. This is where my story begins….

    I first heard about Scarlet Sins from a friend’s facebook status (oh, the power of social networks). Spore (his nickname) shares my taste in metal, alternative & rock so I thought I would check it out. Their website shared snip-its of some of their songs, and I was floored. This all female band – rocked – and they are Canadian (eh?!). I was hooked. I searched online for more info on the Toronto band and instantly had access to pictures, articles and much more. YouTube showed me not only live performances, but interviews with the band, personal tid-bits from band members, and videos of Ellie the drummer performing in a private studio. awesome. Tiger Beat never gave me this.

    I found out they were on twitter, and followed them – tweeted about how great they are. I checked out their MySpace page, joined their facebook group, wrote on their wall (encouraging other fans to follow them on twitter), & I commented on their page over at Last.fm (do I sound like a teenager or a stalker? I’m not sure, but I’m neither). I downloaded their album via itunes and tweeted my delight.

    The Hook: imagine my surprise when I found out that not only did Scarlet Sins follow me back on twitter, but they responded to me. Me. ME! How cool is that? They sent me a couple @ messages (wanted to rock out with me while I played Guitar Hero Metallica!) and they thanked me for downloading their album. Band members answered questions I had about upcoming performances and their new album. I had band news right from the band – no media, no manager – just musicians who love music – and their fans. inspiring.

    Imagine my surprise when I checked my facebook friend requests and bass player Tanya Nicklaus wanted to be my friend, and enclosed a message thanking me for the wall post. wow. (of course i accepted!).
    Granted, Scarlet Sins does not have 250,000 twitter followers like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails does (he’s only following 52 and they’re not fans). Scarlet Sins is a fairly new band, making their name and sound known to music lovers (they opened up for Motley Crue in Sarnia in July 2008, after winning a competition for the opening spot). It’s early in their career and they’re connecting with fans – and fans are connecting with each other. But, the connection is genuine – no ghost writers, no phoniness, no marketing – just rockin women. wicked.

    Social media connected me with the band. I was no longer waiting for that letter to arrive in the mail from my favorite artist (Shaun Cassidy & Leif Garrett, I hope you’re reading this because I’m still mad at you for not writing me back). These artists are investing in their fans, they are building relationships with fans – and I can’t tell you how amazing this experience is – isn’t this what it’s all about?

    that’s my story.
    :)

  2. A former colleague of mine now has a photo of herself with a handsome, smiling Orlando Bloom as her Facebook profile picture.

    The local newspaper had reported Orlando and some other actors were in her town filming a movie. On Twitter, she read a local’s celebrity sighting tweet about Orlando being at a local bar. She went to the bar and got the photo.

    T-shirt please!

  3. This is a re-hash of a story I’ve told endlessly (I have no shame) and it really only fits as “fans and the Internet” in that I was the fan and the only reason I found myself in the situation was because of the Internet. I’ll tell it anyway but feel free to ignore because of it’s questionable relevance.

    In 1994 I set up a website for Galaxie 500 and subsequently a mailing list. Interaction with the band never really happened. Dean (Wareham – Galaxie 500′s guitarist/vocalist) mentioned in an interview that he was on the list but hated not feeling able to correct the nonsense that some of us spouted. Friends urged me to approach Dean (“he’s really cool”) but it never happened until after a show in 1997. He *was* really cool and it was an immense buzz to know that he knew who I was.

    Hazel and I went to NYC in February 2001 for a weekend that just (bizarrely!) happened to coincide with a couple of shows by Luna (Dean’s post Galaxie 500 band) at the Knitting Factory. An attempt to get a signed copy of the vinyl Luna Live album, turned into an invite to Dean’s home the next day. Hazel and I arrived wrapped up warm from the bitter weather and walked into the sweltering apartment. The room contained Dean, his (then) wife, his son, a large dog and a friend who had probably been asked over just in case the nutty Internet stalkers went homicidal. We sat on the vinyl sofa…and I started to sweat – a combination of the heat and the stress and the fact that I sweat at the drop of a hat turned me into a sodden mess. After a nice cup of tea and some very awkward conversation Hazel and I got up to leave accompanied by the sound of my bottom peeling off the vinyl of the sofa. I didn’t dare turn round to see but I suspect the sweaty arse-print I left behind was a sight to behold.

    The mailing list and website has got me to meet all the members of Galaxie 500 (and Luna). I was going to say that didn’t happen in the days before the Internet but then I remember having a beer with (well next to really!) Lemmy in Dingwalls in the 80s. But still, the Internet made (makes) me feel a part of the music I love.

    (Thanks for listening – I’m off now to check out Scarlet Sins bcs I like them already and I haven’t heard a thing as yet!)

  4. Recently,I searched for blog information in order to do task in “Computer Mediated Communication” course, and I found your blog. So I shared your blog in class,I thought that it provides many great opinions and discussions concerning Internet communication and fandom issues. It was a coincidence that my professor told me that you was his instructor, when he was a graduate student of Dept. of Communication in Wayne State University during about 1994~1995. He told me that you are a great instructor and he was so excited to introduce you to me. Do you remember his name Chuang Po-Chung, from Taiwan. I’m his graduate student in Taiwan. I’m very glad to know you. It’s a special internet experience for me, so I leave my word. Finally, my professor Chuang wanna say “Hello” to you and thank you for your teaching.
    Sincerely!

  5. Here’s a screen shot of one of my favorite posts I’ve seen on a website.

    http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1293/1239223421535.png

  6. I really can’t stay
    (Baby it’s cold outside)
    I’ve got to go away
    (Baby It’s cold outside)…

    These words have been sung by many since Frank Loesser first wrote and performed the duet with his wife in 1944. Year after year the song is covered by new artists ranging from Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting in 1949 to Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey in 2004, constantly reinventing the tune and introducing it to new generations of fans.

    I was one of those fans. Though I occasionally enjoy traditional Christmas classics, they often get overplayed and just are not the type of music I usually listen to. So, each year I go on a quest to create my own xmas playlists of indie-rock (I’m not good with “choosing” genres) songs to celebrate the season ranging from a cappella versions of classics like Straight no Chaser’s ‘Carol of the Bells’ to new songs like ‘Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!’ by Sufjan Stevens and ‘Lonely Christmas Eve’ by Ben Folds.

    In the winter of 2007 I found myself on a mission of sorts. I remembered hearing a great version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ on my favorite local radio station, 101.9 The Mix (WTMX Chicago), by Wheat and Liz Phair, but I couldn’t find the song anywhere and I mean A-NY-WHERE. It wasn’t available on iTunes. It wasn’t available on Amazon. I couldn’t find any torrents of it and it didn’t come up in any searches with Acquisition. It’s as if the song did not exist except for when it streamed through the radio.

    Google did provide some answers though: the song was off of ‘Mesmerizing’ a 7-inch vinyl that had been produced a few years earlier in limited quantity and also included Wheat’s ‘I Met a Girl’ (the first song I heard by them). Apparently, Wheat had performed the song live when they appeared on KCRW in December of ’03 and the interview was and is available streaming (which is adorable, you should check it out). In the interview the band talks about how they originally recorded the song themselves but they were on tour with Liz Phair at the time and decided to ask her if she was interested in doing it since they said Scott Levesque’s (the lead singer’s) falsetto sounded a lot like her anyways…it ended up as they say “a happy accident.” I considered trying to record it off the streaming interview, but all of my attempts failed for one reason or another. I even thought about trying to request the song from my local radio station and then bringing my laptop next to the radio to record it, but that just seemed too complicated and I figured it wouldn’t produce a very good result.

    At this point, I could have given up, but I really loved the song even though my older sister on the other hand thought it was weird that I cared that much. She thought the pairing between Wheat and Liz Phair was “creepy,” saying that Scott’s voice was too deep.

    I knew there had to be some way for me to find this song. I mean, how could it not exist anywhere? So, I looked on WTMX’s website and found the e-mail address of the music director. I e-mailed her, hoping maybe she could hook me up or at least lead me in the right direction.

    I received the following response:
    “It is nowhere to be found! We got a copy years ago and heard that was released on a limited edition vinyl but that’s it!!

    I wish there was a direction to point to you in (I get TONS of requests for this every year) but unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they can make anymore.

    Thank you for listening and I’ll be sure we play it a lot for you!”

    Play it a lot for me? Great. But, I want to listen to it on repeat for hours on end, like I usually do with the ‘songs of the moment’ that I get obsessed with. At this point I thought, why not go straight to the source? I looked on Wheat’s website and they had an e-mail address listed, so I thought, why not? There was no harm in trying and the worst that could happen was I would hear nothing back. So, I e-mailed them, letting them know how much I loved the song and asking if there was any way I could buy it directly from them.

    Literally THE SAME DAY, I get a response back from Scott:
    “hi,
    true it isn’t available… kind of nice in this
    age of anything all the time. send us your address and
    we’ll send you a copy. happy holidays! s”

    Ah! What! Scott responded!

    I sent back my address back and then a week later received another e-mail but this time from drummer Brendan Harney. He sent along the mp3 and the following message:
    “hello -
    happy post-xmas, but here you go. all good things in
    the coming year.
    best,
    b.”

    I was ecstatic but a little confused since Scott had asked for my snail mail address. Shortly after, I received a package with a burned copy of Baby It’s Cold Outside and their EP from the time, That’s Exactly What I Wanted … Exactly That.

    It was awesome. Not only did they both take the time to respond but they actually cared. It was great to know that they appreciated me, just one of their many fans, as much as I appreciated them. Without the internet, the whole exchange probably would have never happened. I could have sent them a letter, but I probably wouldn’t have, assuming it would get lost in all the other mail they were getting. Through email I was able to make an immediate connection.

    Recently Wheat released a deluxe 3-CD set which included a reissue of two of their albums (Medeiros and Hopes and Adams) along with “30 Minute Theatrik” a new album of rare/unrealeased material. I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but I’m pretty sure Baby It’s Cold Outside will be part of it. I’m glad other fans will be able to enjoy the song now as well, but for a brief period of time I was one fan lucky enough to have been able to enjoy it over and over whenever I wanted. It was kind of like my little secret with the band, just between me and them (and everyone I told lol).

    I have a lot of respect for Wheat; they treat their fans right. They just released a new album (it ships May 15th), “White Ink, Black Ink,” and you can currently pre-order it on their website. But, you don’t have to wait until May 15th to get the CD in the mail, if you pre-order it now you get an immediate MP3 copy of the album for download (and then, of course, the physical CD sent on May 15th). As the site says, “You’ll be the first to hear their new album and the first to hold it. And that’s the way it should be.”

    That is the way it should be.

  7. Back in the mid 90′s I saw an unknown band in a basement, and as an impressionable teenager, I was really into their then-unique rap-rock sound. So I made a fan website. The band contacted me, and we made it their official site. They sent me some free CDs, and I would regularly talk to them on the phone. But I got busy and lost interest or whatever so I let another random fan take over. A year or so later the band signed to a major label and sold millions of albums and became international superstars. The random guy that had taken over the site supposedly got a sweet job in the interactive department at the label.

  8. Ooooh cool tees! And nice background design too, have I said that before? You rock! :)

  9. Thanks everyone! I’m declaring Netwoman and Aylin the winners though I really liked all your contributions. Guess I have a soft spot for well thought out prose and tales of bands reaching out to fans. You’ll get Wornfree contact info via email. THANKS AGAIN!