LONDON: Music fans accept the role brands have to play in artist development and in sustaining the music industry, but while "selling out" is no longer an issue "selling unwisely" is.

Research into music fandom by Twitter and Crowd DNA, presented in an ESOMAR paper The future fan, explored how this has evolved and what it means for brands and the media.

The authors, Gemma Proctor, research manager at Twitter UK, and Andy Crysell, managing director at insight business Crowd DNA, noted that the word 'music' was tweeted almost 12m times in the UK in 2014 and outlined an interview and survey-based study designed to understand the choice of this social network as a platform to talk about music.

They reported that while many aspects of music fandom, and what drives people to become fans have not changed, the advent of social media has enabled what they call "the age of the fan ecosystem" where artists, fans, brands and media all feed off each other.

Passion, identity, belonging and knowledge were highlighted as drivers of fandom and social media has a role in meeting these needs, with Twitter proving a particularly good platform for not only "remote participation" – informing fans unable to attend an event – but also for "digital intimacy" with artists themselves.

"The interest in fandom and fan communities among brands and media has reached new levels, with strategies for creating commercial advantage an absolute priority," according to Proctor and Crysell.

And while artists aren't seen as selling out when they partner with a brand, they do need to "sell wisely", and that means brands understanding what fans want to receive from them in the music space.

Most obviously that entails shared values between brand, artist and fans. And, tied to fandom drivers, giving fans opportunities to meet or interact with their idols, helping them feel part of the action and find out new things are all part of the mix.

But brands also need to commit for the long term, the authors said; "You can't expect to turn up at one festival, Tweet about it and instantly become associated with music".

Data sourced from ESOMAR