Facebook Fans Now Liking But Unsubscribing From Trendy Bands

Digital-music-trends-logoBy Eliot Van Buskirk of

Marketers tend to view Facebook Likes as a window into, if not the very soul of a person, then at least their musical interests.

However, we’ve caught wind of a trend that complicates Liking.

The short story: If an artist starts to gain traction (i.e. other people think they are cool), some people will Like them just to have the band’s name show up on their profile. However, they don’t actually want to hear from the band. As soon as they Like the band, they unsubscribe from all of its updates.

So do they really, actually, like, Like the band? Maybe not so much.

“From working with bands that have done pretty well this year, it’s been pretty interesting to see an emerging trend on Facebook of kids liking your band, and then immediately unsubscribing from seeing any updates by them,” said Darren Hemmings, as he and I were interviewed, along with Steve Knopper, for Andrea Leonelli’s Digital Music Trends podcast – watch or listen below. (Hemmings works with bands including alt-J, Villagers, and more.)

 “It’s become the new ‘Yeah I like whoever,’ and it’s this weird thing that I’ve seen kind of increasing — as the bands popularity increases, so do the instances of people, usually young people, clicking Like, so it says ‘Darren likes whatever group,’,” added Hemmings., “but then immediately opting to not see any of the updates. They’re kind of crafting a persona on Facebook to impress other people, but it’s not real.”

I agreed that this is an interesting phenomenon: ”It’s the new ‘buying the T-shirt, but not the record.’”

Granted, maybe these like-then-unfollow types just want to use Facebook to connect with their friends, and they don’t think of the bands as their friends. But nonetheless, it casts a little doubt on whether people actually (lowercase) like the bands they Like, because they’re not interested in hearing about the band’s tours, new releases, general musings, and so on. And ultimately, it makes Facebook a little less useful for artists who are so cool that Liking them can be a badge of honor.


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  1. All the “Likes” really do is provide promotion and advertising anyway.
    For example, if a band decides to run a Facebook ad, the ad will say “1 billion people like this.” So therefore, people think, “Wow, what is this thing that I am missing?”
    And therefore, more will check it out.
    Likes shouldn’t be considered a measure of the number of valid fans, but understood now as a feature which can provide more attention for an artist or band.
    But the caveat is that in order to for this to work, you have to already be getting quite a bit of attention to be able to use this feature.
    Yet another, “You need some to make some” issue.

  2. Why would anyone expect that pressing a button to indicate “I like Coldplay” implies anything more than declaring that they do indeed appreciate Coldplay’s music? Why should “Like” mean “I also want to get relentlessly hammered with spam/inane updates from bandmembers and/or their social media team”?
    The industry has spent decades making artists and art into commodities and brands, and many artists, marketers, and other hangers-on have reaped the rewards of that. So by default, the public perception of “Coldplay”, for example, is as a brand of music. Some may also associate the name with a singer, some with the entire group of musicians, some with a live experience. But first and foremost, the brand means music.
    Apparently this is news to you, but Coldplay is not, in most people’s minds, an entity associated with hourly announcements, advertisements, retweets, and chit-chat making them feel “connected”. At least, that’s not what fans want a band’s brand to be. But the fact that they now immediately unsub from the feeds of bands they Like indicates that increasingly, artists are diluting their brands. Coldplay, at least online, is like an acquaintance you hear from way too often, someone who thinks they’re your best friend, when in fact you keep them at arm’s length, even if that means some peripheral businessman is going to accuse them of not being “real” fans.

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