The Incurable Madness of Being a Brand New Fan

by Erik van Rheenen

You know the comedic phenomenon where, if you stretch a joke out long enough, it skirts past the brink of humor and circles back to absolute hilarity? Well, if the punchline is Brand New sending out lyric booklets for The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me to select fans nine years past due, the joke might hit in one of two ways: either Brand New is brilliant — the kind of band with the foresight to devote nearly a decade of planning to an elaborate setup — or we fans are all certifiably insane for hanging on this long.

In a sense, the latter must be true, because calling oneself a Brand New fan requires some small sacrificial offering of sanity. To believe in the prospects of a Brand New record waiting in the wings is to put blind faith in the notion that a band that has rested dormant for six quiet years since Daisy will, from the blue, miraculously release a new record. Fans suffering through most bands’ extended stretches of inactivity would simply shrug it off, waiting with patient hands tucked in their pockets for some official announcement from the band’s camp.

Not Brand New fans. Any apparition of new information gets chased with evangelical zeal and unflappable devotion, metaphorically pinned to a crisscrossing set of clotheslines by a safety pin, matrices tracing whispers through interwoven hints and clues haunted by phantoms of plausibility. Watching an AbsolutePunk thread’s worth of Brand New fans suit up as an amateur Scooby Gang and track down answers — from Brooklyn billboards to Tesla references to the mysterious Fusion Anomaly site, with apparently invisible ties to Brand New’s webpage — shows just how much the band means to its most devoted fans, and some of the theories hatched are ones worth incubating. Maybe Brand New really is forecasting its cinematic end come 2018. Maybe it’s not all that far-fetched to think we might get an album on Easter, or July 10. Hell, maybe this is just the first motion in the rollout for Shone’s sophomore record. (Be patient: has anyone checked lately?)

Here’s the brilliant part: all of this might have everything to do with some grand Jesse Laceian scheme to announce new music with a sweeping sense of pomp and circumstance, or it might have nothing to do with new Brand New music — just a communally-shared amalgam of wishful thinking and delusional hope. But Brand New is one of just a scattering of bands with a fan base devoted enough to become enthralled by this sort of mystery, meticulously planned or not. The band’s cloak-and-dagger method of suggesting news without giving it all away plays right into fans looking at cryptic liner notes with a sense of adventurous challenge — that dedicated detective work just might ultimately map out the elaborate scheme ahead of them and reveal plans for new music from a band that’s kept silent long enough.

And even if all the sleuthing comes to nothing (though, for this Brand New fan’s two cents: I think this is leading up to something, and fast), well, Brand New still wins by capturing fans’ imaginations while keeping the nagging possibility of new music at the forefront of their minds. Plus, who doesn’t like a good mystery every now and again?

With apologies to Jesse Lacey, I think I’ve finally diagnosed that vague something in “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t” — it’s the incurable madness of being a Brand New fan. It takes a special kind of insanity to look for Brand New in the details of obscure websites and map coordinates, but it’s the special kind of insanity where, even if they had a cure for it, we’d tell the doctors to fuck off and leave us to our sleuthing: we have a mystery to solve, after all.


On Monday night I had the pleasure to attend the Parisian preview of Cartiers’ new film “Painted Love” at La Fidélité. Painted Love is the name of a new short film created in collaboration with New York’s Waverly Films and an original composition from Air’s Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin inspired by the Cartier Love bracelet. The short film debuted on Cartier’s Facebook page Nov. 9, premiered on Vevo Nov. 11 and will launch globally Nov. 16. A download of the song will arrive on iTunes later this month, in partnership with Air’s global publisher EMI. Enjoy.

How We Get Rid Of The Plague That Is StubHub

StubHub, Craigslist, and eBay, among other services, are all used to sell concert tickets for (typically) a much greater price than face value. Scalping has always existed, but the extent to which scalpers are charging fans to see their favorite bands only seems to grow. PropertyOfZack saw a large outburst of outrage from fans this past week as Brand New’s discography shows sold out in record time and had tickets being sold on StubHub for well over $200. Jesse Cannon, author of Get More Fans: The DIY Guide To The New Music Business and the man behind Cannon Found Soundation, has written a special Contributor Blog article for us with his view on why StubHub is a plague and how we, as a community of music lovers, need to do away with it. Read it, and let us know your thoughts below!

When tickets for Brand New’s “full album” shows went on sale this week, we saw what happens whenever a major show goes on sale: tickets sell out way too fast, and die-hard fans are left with the option to pay a dozen times the ticket price ($400 on a $35 ticket) for a ticket on StubHub, or hope they can find a generous soul who is selling tickets on Craigslist for a reasonable price. Almost as bad, manipulative assholes head to Craigslist, or wherever else, scalping the tickets for unreasonable prices. But what makes StubHub so appalling is it has built a profitable business model off a disgusting practice that profits off true music fans not being able to get tickets that low-life scalpers push to the front of ticket lines and snatch from true fans in in order to sell to them for exorbitant rates. Brand New won’t be the first or the thousandth act this occurs with, and this revolting pain in all of our lives will continue to happen unless music fans do something about it.

For the uninitiated, StubHub would lead you to believe that it is a noble organization that takes the dangers of buying fake tickets away from scalpers, (and to an extent, this is true) but the prices they demand are often far above the worst cases of scalping and unfairly employ “scalperbots" to edge true music fans out and cut the line. They’ve made a business of trying to paint a nice image out of a profession named after a Native American practice that meant death in the most horrible way possible. Which makes sense, since this is often what it feels like when you think of paying a dozen times a ticket’s face value to see your favorite band, just because some scalpers took the last few hundred tickets only to profit from your love of music. Fortunately, the public sees through this and with revolts led by high-profiles musicians, including LCD SoundsystemThe solution they found to beat StubHub left the service all the more humiliated and showed a way to beat their vile business model. In the circles I travel in, StubHub is thought of as the scum of the Earth, except to douchebags like Paris Hilton and other 1 Percent scum who see the site as a butler who brings them an easy way to cut the line in front of truer music fans.

When you’re a diehard fan of a musician, that doesn’t always mean you have $400 to give to eBay’s shareholders (who own StubHub) to see the concert you want. They’ve made a business model that preys on desperate fans, or, even worse, caters to rich assholes that get access instead of the fans who tried to get tickets but were squeezed out by scalperbots who got there first. To make matters worse, the musicians playing these shows receive no compensation and, if anything, are hurt by this practice, since fans then have less money to spend on music, merch, et cetera.

Below are some of my ideas on how we get rid of this plague and get to a more egalitarian ticketing system where fans are no longer robbed to see the groups they love. In the best-case scenario, fans can instead can help fund the bands they love. This is not a concrete plan, but instead are some early ideas that should be built upon and developed. I want to start a conversation where we all work together and solve a problem that makes our lives as music lovers worse.

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I Must Protect My Brand

My name is Fred Marshall, and my brand is exquisite. My social networks are in full bloom. My blog posts are SEO-friendly. I have crafted an impenetrable online presence and I am constantly improving it.

I have 92 Google alerts, and their sinuous arms traverse the web. They are variations of my name, places of employment past, present, and future, cities I’ve lived in and lived close to, and the names of all my pets. My dog is Efficiency. My cat is Ambition.

I utilize a triple-monitor computer setup. Each screen ranges from 27 to 33 inches and they curl around my desk. This is my command center. TweetDeck takes up the leftmost screen, and that is where I monitor my private account, public account, and aggregation account, which is where I mostly just retweet Mashable links. The other two screens are mishmashes of Chrome and Firefox tabs. I cycle through subreddits at mach two. I share things that You Will Not Believe. I am become clickbait, destroyer of #longform.

I create. I curate. I work hard to be myself.

I am Entrepreneur 2.0. My LinkedIn account is 100 percent complete, as I have uploaded my resume. I check in on Foursquare as soon as I wake up. I am the mayor of my apartment. I am a Snapchat wunderkind. I’ll give you my WiFi password when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Other Fred Marshalls challenge the sanctity of my brand. They live across the country, and they post on Twitter and Facebook, and those posts are cached, and now there are Fred Marshalls competing with me for Internet space. Some of them say things that are off-color. They offend people. They pick fights with Patton Oswalt on Twitter. At any moment, he could answer. At any moment, outrage could find its way to my door.

My brand! I fear for the safety of my brand!

So I am in San Diego, at the doorstep of one Fred Marshall. The sky is deeply, brilliantly blue. It is cloudless but for a few wisps that accent the beauty. I Instagram it. I go #nofilter. I do not add a geotag. This is a covert mission.

“Can I help you?” Fred Marshall asks. He has answered his front door. His house is handsome.

“I am a mama tiger, fiercely guarding my cubs.” I say. “My brand is a church, and its worshippers are pious and pure.”

He is confused.

“You cannot be a part of this,” I continue, lighting the underside of my face with my flashlight app. I take out a gun. “I am building my future. I am Fred Marshall.”

I guide him to the computer in his den. MapMyRun tells me that walk was .005 miles, but I don’t share it to Facebook, and that gives me a dirty thrill. The adrenaline courses through me. Together, we delete his accounts. He is asking me about his safety. He is pleading for me to leave, to put the gun away. I am telling him to delete his tweets, one by one.

I am telling him the Internet is a vast, frightening place, and I cannot let anyone think poorly of me. I must defend my name. I must remain myself. I must protect my brand.

[Jon Wolper is a writer and journalist who has contributed to McSweeney’s, Splitsider, The Big Jewel, and other neat places. He tweets here.]

Why We Should Stop Feeling Entitled And Start Enjoying Music Again

We’re at a crossroads.

A hefty sense of fan entitlement (exhibited quintessentially during this past weekend’s so-called Daisygate) in our music community has skewed the traditional relationship between artists and their fans. But how did the paradigm shift so far from the norm? Editor-in-Chief Erik van Rheenen explores the problems of fans feeling entitled and how to fix a breaking the continuously dangerous cycle.

by Erik van Rheenen

Related Stories:
Fans Get Exactly What They Want, Then Shit On It
Disappointed Brand New Fans

It’s more blessed to give than to receive — that’s an angelic old proverb someone heaven-sent like Jesse Lacey doesn’t dare forget. Maybe Brand New found themselves swept up in the spirit of the holiday season or felt like giving some shine to songs collecting dust in the back of their discography or Lacey just wanted an outlet to strut his best Tony Lewis impression out on stage, but there was enough blessedness to go around when the band announced four intimate discography shows. Two coasts. Two concerts out west in California, two concerts more homeward bound in Brand New’s native New York and New Jersey. Two albums and a fistful of B-sides per night. To fans, from Brand New, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

But there wasn’t a heck of a lot of blessedness on the receiving end of all that giving — at least not Friday night in Long Island, when the opening strains of “Vices” didn’t make a vocal minority of fans glad to be where they were with whoever they were there with. Having demanded Deja once Brand New closed out The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me in proper — an unlikely-if-not-impossible possibility, since the band already paired Devil and Daisy once during the flurry of discography shows — some fans whipped into a storm of boos and exited, off-stage right, and from the safety of the space behind their laptop screens and smartphones, lashed out against the band on social media. Personifying the consensus as an embattled fan who made moves for the doors when the band didn’t surrender their integrity to the pressure and play “Tautou,” that fan scathed the band with a “Fuck you for not playing what we wanted to hear. We made you. You owe us.

When did the paradigm shift? Since when have fans stolen the creative license from bands? Who decided that it was okay for individuals in an audience who snapped up tickets to a discography show, knowing full well the records they’d hear would be selected by the band, to say, “Hey, it’s cool that you want to play Daisy, but since I’m here and I don’t really like that one, think you might play Deja instead? Thanks.”

The problem here, as Jason Tate so eloquently mentioned on, is that “It feels like somewhere along the moment where everyone started downloading music for free that we lost track of our own role and place in the entire food-chain.” Where artists once kept creative control close to the vest, somewhere down the line, we the fans collectively determined that what we want to listen to supersedes what our favorite artists want us to listen to, and that was okay. Some fans harbored quiet disappointment, silently bumming out when Fall Out Boy didn’t play a favorite cut off Take This To Your Grave during their comeback tour. Others flaunt their entitlement proudly — ever hear a fan scream at Dustin Kensrue to play “Deadbolt” at a Thrice show? Yeah.

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Recently, In Advertising

“There are things in there editors won’t like, and things in there that publishers won’t like,” a Condé Nast editor tells AdAge about the company’s decision to formalize its native advertising policies.

An approximately 4,000-word internal document is currently circulating the company, AdAge reports, that “not only delves into advertising but also provides standards and practices around certain legal and privacy concerns, including how the company will handle consumer data.”

Condé Nast includes publications such as Wired, Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair among many others.

Other large publishers, such as Hearst (Cosmo and Esquire) and Time, Inc (Time, People and Sports Illustrated), are sticking to more general guidelines and making case-by-case decisions on native ads and their formats.

Meantime, Time magazine and Sports Illustrated are breaking a magazine industry taboo by selling advertising on the covers of their print editions.

As The New York Times notes:

[T]he Time and Sports Illustrated cover ads appear to violate the guidelines of the American Society of Magazine Editors, the influential trade group that awards the National Magazine Awards. The first rule in its guidelines for magazine editors and publishers is, “Don’t print ads on covers.”

“The cover is the editor and publisher’s brand statement,” it says. “Advertisements should not be printed directly on the cover or spine.”

That said, print newspapers such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal run ads on their front pages, and ads on the home pages of magazine and news sites are pretty much the norm.

“You can either say this is a groundbreaking decision to put ads on covers after 91 years in the business,” Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc’s chief content officer, tells AdAge, "or you can say this is a relatively modest reference that catches up to what’s going on in the industry.“

We go with the latter with the caveat that it will be disappointing when our best magazine covers are covered in ads.

Image: Vintage Youtube by Moma, a Brazilian advertising agency, as part of a 2010 "Everything Ages Fast” campaign.