130201 The Price of Fandom

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    Tetsuya
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    130201 The Price of Fandom

    Post by Tetsuya on 2013-02-01, 13:38

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    Ask any SONE about the extent of Girls’ Generation’s popularity, and the response will likely be the same: “They are a global sensation.” And it’s true. By and large, it has become a Global Generation, stretching across the world, enjoyed by people of all walks of life. But within that is where we start to see sharp differences in fans: not in their love, but in their wealth. While there are individuals with high-paying jobs and disposable income, there are also students with nothing but a meager allowance attempting to import relatively expensive albums from halfway across the world. It’s situations like this that make us ask, “Does merchandise and money spent on the group measure a person’s dedication?”

    We’ve all heard the stories and the jokes when it comes to the cost of the fandom. Whether it is something small like a digital release on iTunes, or something elaborate like the $170+ Complete Video Collection (Blu-ray, of course), to the oodles of “I Got A Boy” sponsored merchandise, fans are constantly spending. I’m honestly convinced that fans say “I’m broke” more often than cheer when a new release is announced, as seen with “I Got A Boy” when fans lamented about having to spend $200 to own each of the ten individual albums. This isn’t even counting concerts, where people can spend as little as $40 for a cheap seat if they live in the area and have a casual interest, to upwards of thousands of dollars for people flying in from a different country and aim for nothing less than the best seats in the house, or even more elaborately, attending every date of the tour, no matter the location; such is the habit of certain well-off SONEs.

    This past month alone, we saw the release of the “I Got A Boy” fangoods with a total value easily over $500. Some fans opted to purchase their bias’s hat, while some chose to purchase the entire set, and still others were unable to scrounge up the cash or didn’t want to put money down on something they didn’t feel was worth their hard-earned cash. Are any of them wrong in their choices? No. They all they made their decisions based on what they felt would be best for them as a fan, and that’s something we can’t really dictate that others do as well. It’s a decision that can only be made by ourselves.

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    But what about those less fortunate? While many of us can arguably afford at least an album, for some fans, notably the younger fans without jobs or those struggling to make ends meet, even just one album or a Japanese single is stretching their budget, much less when they desire to own much more than that. Many will argue, “Not eating out for a meal or two and you’ll have enough money”, but to some fans, even that’s too big of a price. Is there a rule saying we need to own merchandise to be a fan? Isn’t loving, following and spazzing about the group enough to be considered a fan? I’ve been unfortunate enough to witness an incident where someone was “judged” for not owning any merchandise, even when it was entirely out of their control.

    Even without funds, there are still several ways to support the group. End-of-the-year award shows typically factor online voting in their award decisions (usually around 20%), or occasionally even have an entire award based on a poll. With some of the most prestigious awards, like the Disk Daesang at the “Golden Disk Awards”, factoring in fan votes, a simple click of the mouse can somewhat suffice for the inability to purchase an album and can often be done repeatedly, depending on the rules. Other shows, including the “Mnet Asian Music Awards” and “Seoul Music Awards”, also use a similar system.

    Social networking is also an easy and free way to help them out. A like/follow/retweet/view on pages like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube generates interest from big names, such as YouTube itself linking and tweeting about recent Girls’ Generation music videos like “PAPARAZZI” and FLOWER POWER”, and are often referred to by journalists in articles, such as the recent article referencing them in The New Yorker. Facebook pages are simple, and be it the Girls’ Generation page or the SMTOWN page, liking either is a way of helping them grow in size and letting others know how SONEs and K-Pop fans together are slowly growing across the globe. With the amount of airplay “I Got A Boy” is getting, even as a teaser, a simple request or phone call to the local radio station can potentially jump start a phenomenon that could sweep across an entire nation…and a phone call is something just about anyone can afford to do.

    For those that simply cannot resist purchasing merchandise even though they are on a limited budget, there are ways to circumvent or alleviate that urge. Many large communities across the globe such as Singapore, the Philippines, and the United States regularly do bulk orders for various albums or pieces of merchandise, which can bring a $25 expense down to a $15 one if enough people join. To some this may not seem like a lot, but to others, it’s the difference between “affordable” and “out of reach”. Even better, where available, iTunes versions of albums have no shipping fee or tax, and are instantly downloadable, a godsend to those in remote areas where K-Pop albums are not readily available. Even simply hunting around eBay or other websites can lead to people selling their old collections for a fraction of the price of a new one, providing a simple way for people to inexpensively jump start their Soshi stashes.
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    At the same time, there is a cheaper method for supporting Girls’ Generation: Twitter spamming. The project drive to get them slots on shows like “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” as well as radio stations simply requires a Twitter/Facebook/e-mail account and the means of reaching those in charge. It’s a stark contrast to the need to spend money, and in many ways, could be even more beneficial to the group than buying albums. Who’s to say a couple of minutes a day behind a computer clicking a mouse and typing isn’t as important as the spending of actual money, when both lead to equally favorable rewards for both the individual and the growth of Girls’ Generation? You can even go as far as factoring in the “9 Days of Caring for Girls’ Generation“, where the support of fans in various charitable activities can help spread awareness and support the girls in a different fashion. Perhaps the kindness of one SONE can lead to the birth of another SONE by the sheer factor of giving.

    As the years go on, and the amount of merchandise grows larger, people will opt to buy or ignore, splurge or save. But no matter what, every SONE is a SONE, and no amount of money spent can equal how much they love Girls’ Generation in their hearts.
    Disclaimer: Views expressed are solely those of the author and are not representative of the Soshified community as a whole.

    Photos by: KC@soshifed, Soy@soshified
    Written by: SNSDave@soshified
    Edited by: moonrise31@soshified, SeraphKY@soshified, MoonSoshi9@soshified


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