According to Urban Dictionary, to stan means to embody “all the aspects of what it means to be a huge fanatic of a music artist,” though in recent years that has grown to include television shows, films, books, franchises, you name it.
Unlike ever before, fans have had the ability to connect with their favorite artists through platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. This hyper-connectivity has increased the bond from artist to fan and from fan to fan. However, it has also posed a new stipulation for the fans who choose to immerse themselves on sites such as Twitter or Tumblr.
Managers of artists, especially those with hardcore, defined fanbases, are able to infiltrate the community of fans via the websites that helped to build it in the first place. For example, Roger Gold. Gold manages Camila Cabello, former Fifth Harmony member gone pop soloist. Since her debut, she’s had impressive commercial success and managed to cultivate a dedicated, loyal fanbase — the Camilizers. Roger has (as any level-headed manager would) employed the large, mostly teenage fanbase of Cabello to promote her album persistently online, buy multiple copies and show up to her events.
The system, something that used to be so much more mystical and non-obvious, is something that most stans are hyperaware of. In fact, when you go onto Twitter and look up some of today’s most popular artists, you’ll find that there are accounts dedicated specifically to their place on the charts. This list includes, but is not limited to, Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello and Bruno Mars.
That isn’t to say that there’s anything inherently wrong with wanting to promote your favorite artist. When you really believe in something — whether that be someone’s music, a film, a show, etc. — you want it to do well. You hope that others will pull from it the inspiration or joy that you did, and even better, pull something new from it that enhances your own experience as a fan.
The trouble with social media is that the initial reasons for creation is lost in the fray. Stans are expected to be part-time employees for artists, and they often claim responsibility for the commercial success of the center of their fandom. It can become far too easy to lose sight of the purpose of it all, both on the side of the fans and the artist(s).
A few years ago, teenagers didn’t know what their favorite song was charting at. They didn’t know what numbers their favorite movies were pulling in at the box office, or the ratings of their favorite television programs. More accurately, they didn’t care. They loved it, anyways. As an artist, that should be the priority, shouldn’t it? A group of people loving your work and letting it into their bedrooms, cars, weddings and families. Fans, but stans especially, nurture bodies of work they love, and in return let it melt into the fabric of their lives.
To stans: love what you love. Embrace a body of work, but never feel an obligation to work for it. There’s someone getting a salary to do that.
To artists: You are in a position to change lives. I promise you, a number on a chart is white noise in comparison to the feeling a fan gets when they interact with you or experience your work.
Art in all its forms is a universal language, and to boil that language down to numbers is to do it a disservice on behalf of fans and the artists.