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Louis Tomlinson Fans Compete in the “‘Walls’ Olympics” – How Fans Activate in the Modern Age of the Internet

Louis Tomlinson fan accounts joined together in April of 2020 to launch a large series of “competitive streaming parties,” called the Walls Olympics, in honor of Louis Tomlinson’s album. The organizing Twitter account behind the event, Louis Tomlinson News, explained, “The aim was to create a fun and diverse approach to streaming parties, especially in a time where most people were at home, bored and restless as a result of the pandemic and lockdowns.” Fans worked to promote Louis Tomlinson’s album Walls.

The fans ultimately earned the praise of Louis himself, with him responding to the project, “Love this. You’re all always so creative.” His official team’s account also promoted the competition, sharing updates and making predictions on a number of occasions.  

Now fans have relaunched the event in 2021. The event was organized by Louis Tomlinson News on Twitter, in partnership with 12 other fan accounts. They split the album in two and assigned different countries to the halves. Team A streamed the first six tracks and included fans from Australia, Canada, Latin America and the United States. Team B streamed the latter half of the album and included Africa, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom. 

Louis Tomlinson News shared, “It not only gives the opportunity for fans to show their support to Louis and his music, but also to enjoy themselves and have fun in the process.”

The event’s winner was announced on January 31, with Team B winning. Team B won with 618 points, overpowering Team A’s 565  points. Artwork, getting verified accounts to tweet about them, streams, Shazaming the tracks and getting trending statuses were used to score. Team B brought in 498,589 streams to Walls. The Walls Olympics was a masterclass in fan power.

During a time when so many people are struggling with isolation due to the pandemic, the internet and these long lasting fan communities have become a way to combat seclusion. As the collapse of the concept of community has crept into the minds of scholars, many internet communities have strived to connect people, even through competition. The interaction of these Louis fans falls into the quasi-paradoxical state of modern virtual communities, as partially defined by Jan Fernback’s “Beyond the diluted community concept: a symbolic interactionist perspective on online social relations.” These accounts intend to connect and work together in a variety of ways that exemplify a longing for interaction (though the very concept of a cyber community is still notably disputed by Fernback’s work altogether).

Events such as the Walls Olympics not only express the love fans have for their artists and each other, but also emphasizes the marketing merit of these fan groups. Brushing off groups of fans as “silly teenage girls,” is not only a sexist trope, but it’s also outdated. These are large organizations with support that dominates social media platforms, overpowering the engagement and following of corporate accounts. Louis Tomlinson News alone has 234, 800 followers. Word of mouth marketing is 115% more effective for millennials than traditional means of promotion, so large-scale events launched by fans are insurmountably valuable for labels, artists and brands. Fans have repeatedly proven their value in political and economic mobilizing and large virtual events prove their capabilities.

In Lisa A. Lewis’ “The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media” book, she writes, “Perhaps only a fan can appreciate the depth of feeling, the gratifications, the importance for coping with everyday life that fandom represents. Yet we are all fans of something. We respect, admire, desire. We distinguish and form commitments. By endeavoring to understand the fan impulse, we ultimately move towards a greater understanding of ourselves.”

As Louis Tomlinson’s debut solo album comes, the emotional value he poured into the project is reflected by the care his fans’ dedication.

 

Feature image courtesy of Louis Tomlinson News

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