Friday, 5 February 2016

Hold On To Your Paycheck - On Hanson, money talks and shattered illusions

When it comes to the business side of things, we all know that Our Band heavily relies on merch sales and ‘extra’ events to fund tours, new albums and run their own record label, 3CG. As a fully independent band, they have no corporation behind them to advance money for recording projects or songwriting retreats in a Texan ranch. 

We are also all mostly aware that everything Our Band does is, in a way or another, intended to make us part with a more money - whether it’s a Livestream (has your membership expired? Rejoin to watch the Nightcap content!) or an unexpected reply to a PM (awww! He’s so nice! I want to give Hanson another $2,000 now!). 

However, the band’s recent interview on Entrepreneur magazine caused a bit of a stir on the forums, as some of us took objection to the wording of some of the guys’ answers. For instance, Zac was quoted saying:

“if you make the effort to show up, to give your paycheck to Hanson, that you’re going to get a great experience.”

Although the interview had probably taken place weeks ago, the timing of the publication is rather unfortunate: this is BTTI pre-sale week, and if you’re going, you’re most definitely giving Hanson your paycheck - paychecks plural even, unless you’re a high earner.

The interview also provides us with an uncomfortable insight on how the band manipulates us like hopeless Sims characters:

Taylor: how can we create a culture with a community that fuels itself?

Isaac: And there are various things that go along with that release -- watching us make it [through video the band shoots] -- that’s always creating content for the core base to talk about.

The key sentence here is ‘to talk about’. Our Band unleash the content upon us, knowing damn too well that doing so is akin to chucking chucking a cow’s leg in a tank full of piranhas: within minutes, there’ll be nothing but bone left. The content will be devoured, dissected, re-interpreted and regurgitated until (whether it’s on the official forums or on more anarchic, unmoderated platforms) the discussion finally dies out and we all move on to the next big news.

This is, of course, all true, and nothing new. It’s part of the package - our membership doesn't just buy us a yearly EP and regular Livestreams: it buys us a place in the community, the discussions, the alternate universe where we end up living when we’re not bogged down with the reality of work, family and the daily grind. It’s not a bad deal for $50*, and as we hand over our credit cards we know only too well that those fifty bucks are only a taster drug, cleverly designed to lure us further down into the rabbit hole. [*approximate price when shipping costs are added]

So, if I already knew this, what’s bothering me?
I guess Our Band are my happy place - the alternate reality to which I escape. My social life largely revolves around the fan community (see my previous post); it’s my only real extravagant expenditure (not being someone who enjoys clothes or accessories shopping). Seeing how the engine works under the hood is a little too much reality when I’ve just come back from BTTI and about to book the next one. Maybe this time a click of ‘view source’ revealed a little too much code. I can’t help thinking: dear Band: deep down I know that you’re after my money, but I’d rather be left with the illusion that you’re not seeing me and my fellow fans as lemons to squeeze dry!

However, this is how Our Band operates. They have no suits pulling the strings behind them and they have no publicist feeding them pre-approved lines before interviews. And you know what, that’s what makes them different from other bands. As a fan pointed out on the forum: 

I would much rather the guys speak candidly, and as a result occasionally say something that rubs some people the wrong way, than that they have a publicist filtering their every word and training them never to stray from their pre-approved talking points.

That’s how I feel, too. I’ll take unfiltered, Hanson any time, complete with Zac’s occasionally cranky outbursts, over any of the manufactured puppets who can’t even post a late-night drunken tweet without a publicist’s approval. Where Our Band may lack in finesse, they amply make up for it with their unquestionable integrity. And I’ll always vote for the latter.

Hanson is no performing monkey

You can read the Entrepreneur Magazine Interview here.


  1. Love this blog. I also read that article and it hit me in the feelings. My initial response was "HEY! Is that all I am to you?" But of course we know we kind of are - we joke about it, but we know. It's rough to hear it, but it changes nothing. We DO still get a great experience, so, hey, they can have some of my paychecks. Happiness is priceless, right?

    1. I think you'll find that this is a faustian pact we made with the devil a long time ago and there's no way out. The devil offers a great experience though, and suckers like us pay for it.
      It is priceless.
      For everything else....there's Mastercard.

  2. brilliantly written ! And I agree the article was like paying attention to the man behind the curtain . It could have been said in a less harsh way but they've said much worst and I have continued to loved them for the honest all the same .Hansonland is better than Disneyland .

    1. The thing is, we all know that we're right on our way to the bottom of the rabbit hole so....we're resigned to the inevitability of it all. But we don't like to feel like idiots in the process.
      Despite all that - I'm going to give them another couple of grand tomorrow. Who's the idiot here, eh?

  3. I agree it's always a little weird to hear about the business side of things when it can make fans sound like a bunch of numbers or a bottom line, but it's a part of their "brand" that is definitely being discussed and considered regardless of whether or not we get to read articles about it.

    In a way I think it might be...I don't know what word I want to use here..."healthy" for us to see it a little bit? I don't for a second believe that we're all just a bunch of figures on a spreadsheet to them, but it might be kind of a good reality check for some.

    And with Zac making what might sound like a pretty blunt statement about taking our paychecks, I think they feel comfortable making light of it because it's no secret that we spend a lot of money on them. They know it and we know it, and fans joke about it too. I messaged him a few years ago with an idea of something to do at Hanson Day "to get an extra $10 out of me" and he joked right back about how to squeeze out that extra $10.

    1. I agree with your statement that they know that we know. I often joke on the forum about giving them my credit card number, and I'm not the only one who says that kind of thing.

      A little subtlety would have been nice but I guess we weren't the intended audience for that article. Now I'm going to dig a hole in the sand and stick my head in it, because it's easier that way...

  4. Paola, we agree on so many things, but I totally disagree on this article. I think the boys were talking integrity. If they expect us to spend money on them, then they are going to give us a quality product. We all know fans that would buy spit in a baggy, if it was Hanson spit, but they would never sell it. They don't charge for M&G, and they could, they don't jack up ticket prices for VIP access, and they could. So maybe I'm the naive one, but that's how I took it. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go sign over my paycheck to Hanson. :)

    1. You're probably right but...someone has to give them a hard time sometimes, ya know? And then get on the shitlist ;)
      Now, prepare yourself because today we're going to BOTH give them our paychecks ;)