The "Family" Phenomenon
“Bassnectar Family.” “Pretty Lights Family.” If you consider yourself an avid attendee of big festivals/shows, then it is very likely that you have heard one of these terms used to describe groups of fans of large artists like Bassnectar and Pretty Lights. Attending an event where one of these huge names is performing, one is likely to see totems with abbreviations such as “PLF” and “BNF” on them, standing for Pretty Lights Fan and Bassnectar Fan. These proud fans strut about festivals and concert venues displaying their love for their respected artist. Rooted in the love for artistic expression, these “families” have recently developed in the EDM world and are gaining a larger presence in the music and festival world.
The idea of an artist having a “family” of fans really just comes from the fact that artists see many of the same people at their shows across the country. Artists notice the people at the front of the audience and recognize them when they attend festivals and shows consistently. These are often the people who populate the artist’s family. To put myself in the shoes of an artist, I would be very grateful and would definitely go out of my way to recognize those people who show profound dedication to my music, which is more than any artist could ask for. Fans are also grateful when an artist recognizes their dedication, which creates a positive relationship between artists and their fans.
Many people look at this phenomenon as a new, crazy fad, but it has really been around much longer than most EDM fans may believe. If you are not familiar with the term “Deadhead” let me enlighten you on some musical history. The band The Grateful Dead, who toured across the world for over 25 years, was an extremely popular band from the late 60’s until 1995 when they disbanded. A “Deadhead” was a term for someone who essentially toured with the band, attending many of their live performances. This idea of a “Deadhead” is still present today and manifests itself with large EDM DJ’s like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Griz, Big Gigantic and others.
These “families” have grown enough so that social media are becoming the main platform for the artist’s fans to communicate with each other. The Bassnectar Family has the twitter account @bnfam, the Pretty Lights Family is on twitter as @plmfamily, and Big Gigantic Family can be found @ABGfam. However, the Griz Family and Big Gigantic Family have a much larger presence on facebook. These and other twitter accounts allow dedicated fans to get the most up to date information on their EDM idols. These accounts are used so that artists can communicate with their fans about upcoming shows, album releases, and sometimes secret sets. Social Media outlets also allow the artist and their “family” to give back to the community by organizing meetups, food drives and other events for family members. These social media accounts also create transparency between artist and fan that has not really existed in the past. This transparency is good for the artist and the industry as a whole, as it allows the artists to directly inform fans, often right to their smartphones, as opposed to posting information online or running commercials on television: it's free advertising.
The “family” phenomenon is very real, and very present at concerts and music festivals. It will continue to grow as the popularity of big artists continues to grow. I would encourage anyone who is a fan of artists who have a rave “family” to get involved with it. And I encourage anyone already involved to continue your dedication to your favorite DJs. It’s what supports their art and allows us to attend magnificent and magical musical performances year after year, and in the end that’s what really matters.
Written by: Patrick Walsh