The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

It’s The Details That Prove You’re Real …

Years ago, when I was helping launching Spotify in Japan at Wieden, we did a bunch of work on understanding what music fandom really meant.

Given this was in Japan – the land of extreme perfection – we knew it was going to be interesting, but after a short while, we realised we may have missed the point.

You see while we met a whole lot of people who had a deep relationship with music – including someone who had something like 74 different vinyl versions of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’, not to mention a rather un-nerving 40 year old bloke who was obsessed with everything Japanese, female heavy metal band BabyMetal, did … the reality is they weren’t fans of music, they were fans of a song or an artist or a genre.

And when we realised that, that’s when we started to get real clarity on what a real music fan was and went down a road that led to work that helped Spotify enter Japan and take a leadership position … despite being late to a market where vinyl still was the dominant format and where there was a ton of streaming competitors who all offered more music – especially local music – than Spotify.

However, on our journey to this point, we interviewed a bunch of people who were fans of a particular band – or genre – and asked them what they thought were the characteristics that defined someone as a ‘hardcore fan’.

We got such a range of answers …

Some cliched. Some intriguing. All expressed with earnest authenticity.

My favourite group with the heavy metal/heavy rock fans.

Part of that is because I love that style of music and part of that is because it seems to actively want to disassociate itself from anything associated with popular, mainstream or universally accepted culture.

Hence we got lots of comments relating to dress … places to drink … where you stand at gigs … how many gigs you’ve been to … influences … deep cuts … history … a never ending set of criteria that apparently separated authenticity from wannabe.

I say all this because I recently saw something no one mentioned in our conversations. Something that – for me – defines a real metal fan.

It’s this …

Because it doesn’t matter how many tattoo’s, leather jackets, bottles of Jack Daniels or gigs you go to, nothing – NOTHING – is more metal than driving a Suzuki Swift with a ‘Slayer’ number plate. 🤘🏻

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