Fans or friends?: seeing social media audiences as musicians do

  • Nancy K. Baym
Keywords: music, musicians, fans, social media, relationships, friendship


In the last decade, engaging audiences through social media has become an important element of life as a musician. Tis paper analyses interviews with thirty-six musicians to understand how they perceive their interactions and relationships with audiences online. It highlights the blurred boundaries between fans and friends, identifying how online interactions can bring interpersonal rewards for musicians, as well as how they can raise interpersonal challenges. Musicians balance these tensions through a range of strategies that depend on their need to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the integrity of their fans’ experiences. Rather than approaching online audiences as ‘fans’ who are necessarily less powerful, many of the musicians engaged them as equals.


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Author Biography

Nancy K. Baym
Pesquisadora chefe da Microsoft Research. Autora de Personal connections in the digital age; Internet inquiry: conversations about methodseTune in, log on: soaps, fandom and online community.
How to Cite
Baym, N. (2013). Fans or friends?: seeing social media audiences as musicians do. MATRIZes, 7(1), 13-46.