It's not all about the music: Online fan communities and collecting Hard Rock Café pins
Previous studies of music fan culture have largely centered on the diverse range of subcultures devoted to particular genres, groups, and stars. Where studies have moved beyond the actual music and examined the fashion, concerts, and collecting ephemera such as vinyl records and posters, they have tended to remain closely allied to notions of subcultural distinction, emphasizing hierarchies of taste. This paper shifts the focus in music fan studies beyond the appreciation of the music and discusses the popular fan practice of collecting souvenir pins produced and sold by the Hard Rock Café (HRC) within a framework of fan tourism. Traveling to and collecting unique pins from locations across the globe creates a fan dialogue that centers on tourism and the collecting practices associated with souvenir consumption. Collectors engage in practices such as blogging, travel writing, and administration that become important indicators of their particular expression of fandom: pin collecting. Membership requires both time and money; recording visits around the world and collecting unique pins from every café builds fans' cultural capital. This indicates an internationalization of popular fandom, with the Internet acting as a connective virtual space between local and national, personal and public physical space. The study of HRC pin collecting and its fan community suggests that HRC enthusiasts are not so because they enjoy rock music or follow any particular artist but due to the physical ephemera that they collect and the places and spaces they visit.
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