While I remain a fan of the band's music, I have lost the motivation to maintain this fan site. Please read the following before deciding to send me inflammatory remarks, questioning my loyalty to the band:
I feel that the band has lost touch with its fan base, alienating all but those in the Carolinas and the North East of the United States. I understand that lagging record sales reduces the length of the tour, but giving fans false hope as to possible tour dates in Canada, Europe or other markets, is unacceptable. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that the backwoods of Big Flats, NY has a larger market than Toronto or Montreal. I request that I not be insulted with the reasoning that the low value of the Canadian dollar prevents the band from playing major Canadian cities. First of all, the tour requires 2 buses at most -- it's not Pop Mart. Secondly, while Jump, Little Children has not had the same commercial success as Hootie & the Blowfish, they manage to "afford" a Toronto date in their current tour.
I feel that the band and/or management fails to recognize the contributions made by its fans. I acknowledge that the Street Team is a tremendous step forward, but just in the language of the application form, it excludes all fans outside of the United States. Furthermore, canvassing the streets and shamelessly promoting the band is worth more than an autographed photo, "incident" or not. Other bands work alongside fan site authors because their goals are one in the same -- to promote the band. Hootie & the Blowfish fan site authors do not receive the recognition that other fan site authors of other bands receive. Webmasters aside, fan club members are not treated to merchandise discounts and are often left to their own devices to find out about radio and television appearances. Correspondence with fans is limited to notices of the availability of new merchandise and to inform its fanbase of new celebrity friends made.
I feel that the band places too much blame on its record label for their lack of success. Like any other industry, the music industry is a business. I hate to admit it, but investing large sums of money into the band is high risk. Atlantic Records heavily promoted Musical Chairs, and once the promotion stopped, the steam ended and album went for bust. The commercially successful album is the one that can sell itself. Musical Chairs could not. The band regularly threatens to take its album to a more supportive label -- do it! When the band first started out, they shopped their demo everywhere, and they heavily promoted themselves. It was this hard work that caught everyone's attention. Is the band now above this?
I feel that the band's efforts in re-establishing its place in the market is ineffective. The name Hootie & the Blowfish is associated with cheesy pop lyrics. Here's an idea -- when you get television appearances, don't play old material! The band played "I'm Goin' Home" at the Grammys -- I doubt that Katie Couric will make a fuss. Music buyers who would otherwise consume the new material will change the channel once they figure out that this is the same band who wrote Only Wanna Be With You. As a fan, it's hard to remain loyal when the band themselves seem to merely be going through the motions.
Bands do not need the media to maintain a loyal fan base -- to blame the media for lack of success is a cop-out. Just look at Phish, Pearl Jam or the Counting Crows, save the commercial success of Big Yellow Taxi, to name a few. These bands thrive because they listen to their fans -- they reward fans that promote their work, they constantly tour, they regularly put out albums, they keep their fans in the loop, and they put their fans above celebrity.
I would like to conclude by saying that I love Hootie & the Blowfish and the great joy that their music has given me. I am still working on the new site, but I feel that I owe it to my visitors to explain (not excuse) the delay of my promised fan site redesign. I say what I say because it's how I feel. All successful relationships are based on the principle of give-and-take. There's only so much one can give before questioning if they will ever receive.
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments that you would like to share with me at this time. I feel that I have been diplomatic in explaining myself, so I ask that you do the same when writing to me.