Have you ever spoken to someone about your favorite artist, and they act like you're not a real fan? They might tell you it's because you don't know all their songs by heart or that you've never seen them live in an attempt to diminish the love you have for that individual artist.
This infamous phenomenon is called gatekeeping, and it's hurting music lovers everywhere. It has resurfaced due to the rise of formerly underground bands such as boygenius and the growing popularity of mainstream artists like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. Its effects on fans and the music industry are projected to have massive consequences.
Where did gatekeeping begin?
Social media is most likely to blame for the start of the gatekeeping culture. An article from The Michigan Daily explains, "Gatekeeping is less an active campaign to silence the spread of music and more of an internal plea we all have in our minds — in one way or another, no matter how loud that plea is actually voiced, the desire to keep things dear to us safe will always ring true."
Some music lovers use gatekeeping as a defense mechanism, especially when new fans appear in the rearview. While it's perfectly okay to be passionate about your favorite musician, this passion can become destructive and lead to fights online between fan bases.
Examples of gatekeeping amongst fans
For example, Taylor Swift fans are some of the biggest perpetrators of gatekeeping, and their rudeness has only intensified since the start of the singer's "Eras Tour," where many fans were upset to see young children attend the event. They claimed that these young fans didn't know any of Swift's work, except for her biggest hits such as "Love Story" and "Shake It Off."
Her fans have even gone to extreme lengths to defend the singer after criticism of her "Eras Tour" garnered attention overnight. In an article by journalist Chris Panella, he said Swift's fans accused him of being a pedophile after criticizing the tour, proving the hate that can come from gatekeeping.
How is gatekeeping affecting the music industry?
Gatekeeping has infiltrated the music industry, too. At major award shows such as the Grammy Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards, even professionals are gatekeeping certain artists and favoring less diverse musicians.
At this past Grammy Awards, Beyoncé was snubbed for "Album of the Year," losing to Harry Styles for "Harry's House." What made the situation even worse was how the Grammys were egging the singer on, commenting throughout the show that she was most likely to take home the night's biggest award for "RENAISSANCE."
However, Beyoncé did not take home the gold or win in any major categories. Historically, the singer has always won categories such as "Urban Contemporary Album" or "R&B Performance," which many critics believe to be racially motivated, another side effect of how gatekeeping white artists has become a negative aspect of award shows.
Solutions to lessen gatekeeping
Overall, gatekeeping has become a more prevalent issue in today's current popular culture, and it can only be lessened by becoming more accepting of others' musical preferences.
Instead of being jealous of someone for liking the same artist as you, try befriending them. This way, you can connect to this person more intimately, as music can often unite strangers. You can also dig deep and work to understand where this jealousy is coming from.
Are you angry because they've seen your favorite artist more than you? Or that they have more merch than you do? If so, you need to let go of it. You have better things to be angry about than someone liking Taylor Swift more than you.
All in all, the infamous phenomenon of gatekeeping needs to stop, and through the examples above, it will only get worse unless people become more accepting.