Just the other day I was wasting my time on a social networking site, and I come across a post that caught my eye. It intrigued me because the person who wrote it made the outrageous claim that if a person doesn’t buy CDs, other merchandise or go to gigs, then they can’t possibly be a “real” metal fan. It was expressed that if a person doesn’t put any money into the music they listen to, then they can’t call themselves a fan. Of course, this opinion applies to all music, not just metal or its sub genres.

Most people would define being a fan as simply enjoying something. Google defines it as: “A person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular sport, art or entertainment form, or famous person.” In that case, to enjoy something, one doesn’t need to spend any of their hard earned money.

Everyone else would claim that you need to offer support to what It is that you enjoy. The disagreement here is mostly caused by what could be accepted as support. While the more reasonable fans would say their moral support is enough, some say you need to put something physical into the cause.

Some of you may ask yourselves what buying one CD could possibly do for the cause, but to think of how far a band could progress with the money from thousands of sales should answer your question. Although, I do agree that for some musicians, money is a necessity. However I could also argue that there are many bands out there that have achieved great success even after putting their music up for free download. Downloading legally can also be seen as supporting the cause. There are, however, disagreements daily concerning illegal downloading. Just because you didn’t pay for the download, does that mean you’re no longer a fan? Does that make you “not a real metalhead”?

While some bands rely on sales of CDs or merchandise, others will rely on the money earned by playing gigs. To be completely honest, I respect the latter a lot more. If a musician’s sole purpose is for others to enjoy their music, what better way to witness it than to play a live gig? Of course, I don’t know many people who attend gigs purely to put money back into the music. Personally I pay for live music for that reason alone. I enjoy live music, and I listen for my own selfish curiosity. What about those who don’t enjoy it? If they don’t enjoy the extreme volume or crowded venues, does that mean they’re no longer a fan?

Merchandise is also an issue in this debate. I often find myself purchasing band t-shirts or hoodies, but I don’t buy them in order to support the musicians. The question lies in the purpose of the merchandise. Is the merchandise available in order to promote them, or is it purely for the money gained from a sale? What about those who don’t like the designs on each piece of clothing? They surely can’t be expected to wear something they don’t like just to support their favourite band.

So, what about those who can’t afford any of it? Should they be denied their favourite music?

All of these questions can be answered by one simple and well known fact. In this day and age, for a musician to truly earn a living from album, merchandise and ticket sales, they’d have to be selling out venues. All of the bands you see on this blog will have a second job, or are otherwise unemployed. So, if you download your music, you should find no reason to feel guilty. The next time someone claims that you’re not a real fan, just remember all that money you’ve saved.

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