Iced Earth guitarist/founder Jon Schaffer has announced the closing of the band’s fan club Minions Of The Wicked. All fan interaction instead will be conducted through Facebook via the band’s publicist Bill Murphy and with the blessing of Schaffer. Fans who are currently members of the club will still receive a membership t-shirt, as well as two rare live tracks for free (different from the ones posted on their website).
Schaffer released the following statement to explain the reasoning behind this decision:
“When we launched Minions of the Wicked, the real power and usefulness of social-network sites like Facebook was unknown to us. Everyone knew about MySpace. Practically every band was already there. Twitter was more or less still in its infancy. Consequently, very few bands used it. Facebook existed, of course. But it was a big question mark. How could bands like ours use Facebook to keep in touch with fans? On September 1st of this year, we launched the official Iced Earth Facebook page. We had no idea what would happen. All we knew is that other bands were on Facebook, and hundreds of fans requested that we be on it as well. So we asked our publicist, Bill Murphy, to create the official Iced Earth Facebook page for us with one stipulation: That he be as passionate about it as he is about our music. He was. And we were blown away by the response we got. In two months’ time, we added over 6,400 followers. Over six thousand four hundred! And it grows by nearly 100 per day. In Facebook, we found the perfect way for us to talk to fans, and — more importantly — to hear from them. In real time. We were thrilled.
With the world’s economy in such rough shape, and people having to scrape together their hard-earned money to buy basic necessities, we thought we could best serve our fans by giving them communication, interaction, access to the band, fun giveaways, and exclusive news on Facebook, without charging them a dime. I’m honored that the fan-club members chose to support Iced Earth. I will always be grateful to them for their loyalty to us. In return, I want to give them what they asked for when we started the fan club. Only this time, it’s free.”
At first glance, it would seem a bit weird for a band to make such a switch to Facebook. But Schaffer’s motives seem pretty genuine in that he’s hoping to give the same service to loyal fans, but for free. If he wanted to, Schaffer could still use the fan club to get a few extra bucks, and I’m sure some fans wouldn’t mind shelling out the money. However, he recognizes that people have less money to spend, and that there is a free and better way to keep in communication with fans. Some bands would ignore this, so it’s pretty cool that Schaffer not only acknowledges it, but is now practicing it (or at least his publicist is). I’m not saying that the industry should start relying on social network sites now as fan clubs, but there’s no reason why bands shouldn’t take advantage of sites like Facebook while they’re still being used religiously by the mass.