The Fans Have Spoken: The Airborne Toxic Event Fan Survey 2013 Results

Posted: December 9, 2013 in A Little Less Profound
Tags: , , ,

The first ever wide scale survey of fans of The Airborne Toxic Event is in the books, and as expected, we’ve proven to be a passionate lot. 169 fans from 11 countries completed the poll, with many of them finding it exceedingly difficult to narrow down favorite songs, albums, lyrics and more. Some compared it to choosing their favorite child, while others called it “torture,” “cruel,” and “physically painful.” In light of such responses, we thank all who gritted their teeth and made impossibly difficult choices in the course of answering the questions, and we hope you’ll find the results as interesting as we did.

Demographics:

The survey responses bear out what is easily seen at any TATE show: the band appeals to a people of every age. Every category from teen to 50+ is well represented in the survey, with the majority falling into the 20-39 range. Gender-wise, two thirds of the respondents were female, which is fairly consistent with what we’ve observed about the hardcore TATE fan community.

Age

Gender

Depth of Fandom:

As might have been expected, most of the respondents are big time TATE fans. A clear majority became fans sometime during the first album cycle, with an impressive 79% saying they listen to the band at least 5 days a week. A full 88% identify the Airborne Toxic Event as their favorite band.

When Did You Become a Fan?

How Often Do You Listen to TATE?

Favorite Band?

Internet Habits

The internet habits of TATE fans are quite revealing. Anyone who frequents the band’s official forum knows that the activity level has dropped quite drastically in recent years. In light of such anecdotal evidence, the numbers aren’t surprising. While a slim majority of respondents are members of the forum, only 37% say they visit at least once a month, and fewer than 10% post at least that often. And keep in mind, these are the hardcore fans, who are typically the ones to set the tone of any band’s message board. It would be fun for fans, and beneficial to the band, to see the forum restored to its former vibrancy, but it will take a concerted effort on the part of many TATE followers to really create some momentum.

Forum Member?

How Often Do You Visit the Forum>

How Often Do You Post in the Forum?

It’s clear that, at this point, most fans prefer to engage the band through social media. Three quarters of the fans polled indicated that social media is their primary source of Airborne news. Not surprisingly, there is very high engagement with TATE’s official accounts on Facebook (91%), Twitter (70%) and, to a lesser extent, Instagram (44%). Intriguingly, almost a quarter of fans cite the TATE website as their primary source of news. Unfortunately, those fans may be missing out on some content, as the website is not updated as frequently as many of us would like.

Individually, Anna has a healthy Facebook following of 70%, especially considering her account is relatively new. Interestingly, more of the respondents follow Mikel on Twitter than they do the band, and both Mikel and Anna have more Instagram followers than does the official TATE account. Perhaps this indicates a greater desire on the part of fans to connect with the more personal accounts of individual members than with the “official brand.”

Where do you get your TATE news?

TATE Facebook pages

TATE Twitter feeds

TATE Instagram accounts

General TATE Fandom

The possibility of a paid fan club, so commonplace among other bands, has long been on the wish list of many Airborne fans. According to this survey, a majority would be willing to pay north of $20 for an annual membership with perks, with about a quarter prepared to pay $40 or more. Though it remains to be seen how widespread the interest would be outside of the band’s most fervent fans, it does seem that there’s some significant revenue potential here, should TATE and their management wish to explore it.

TATE fan club

As is befitting a literary band like Airborne, their fans are readers. Close to 30% of those surveyed have read White Noise, from whence came the quintet’s name – impressive, as it’s not the world’s easiest read. Even more noteworthy is that close to two thirds have been inspired to read Mikel’s own short story, “The Crack.”

White Noise

The Crack

The band members are known to be highly accessible to their fans, and the numbers bear that out, with most fans having met at least one of them. Mikel seems to be the easiest to meet, at 60%, while Anna is the most elusive (though still very “meetable”) at about 40%.

Meeting the band

Over three quarters of fans have a TATE clothing collection, and why not? Their merchandise prices are among the most affordable in the industry. Almost as many fans are hanging on to their ticket stubs to keep alive their concert memories, while over 40% have managed to take home a more significant momento from a show, such as a guitar pick or drumstick.

TATE collections

The Airborne Toxic Event is known to be very supportive of several causes close to their heart, perhaps most notably the Wounded Warrior Project. And though they tend not to be in our faces about it, many fans are prepared to follow their lead, with a third of respondents having been motivated by the band to support a cause in some way.

Charitable causes

Mikel frequently makes mention of the whole front row being filled with Airborne tattoos. Though this may be a slight exaggeration, with only 4% of respondents currently sporting TATE ink, it’s shocking to see that over half of the fans have considered getting a band-related tat. Even if most of those never come to fruition, the fact that a majority has at least thought about it indicates the depth of commitment that the group engenders.

Tattoo

Tattoo - considered

About three fifths of those surveyed have a spouse or significant other, and among those who do, about two thirds of those partners share their appreciation of The Airborne Toxic Event. The other third of us are presumably still working to convert them.

Partner a TATE fan?

Songs and Albums

As would be expected given the depth of fandom represented here, the vast majority of respondents (76%) own all four of The Airborne Toxic Event’s albums. Surprisingly, though, there were four people who don’t own any of the albums, and another five who own just one.

How many albums do you own?

Among the albums, the debut album rates as the favorite for almost 40% of fans, followed by All At Once, All I Ever Wanted and Such Hot Blood. It should be noted again, however, that many respondents found it exceedingly difficult to choose among the albums, so these results shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the fanbase was dissatisfied with the band’s latest effort. And interestingly, though the first album took top spot in the overall ratings, it wasn’t picked as the most popular either musically (All I Ever Wanted) or lyrically (All At Once). The three studio albums were all relatively close in the lyrics rankings.

Favorite album

Fave album musically

Fave album lyrically

When it came to the most loved songs on each album, the winners were “Sometime Around Midnight,” “Duet,” “The Graveyard Near the House,” and “Bride and Groom.” On all three studio albums, the top song won very decisively, while the race was much closer on the live album, with “Duet” just barely edging out “Innocence,” “The Book of Love,” and “All I Ever Wanted.” Also noteworthy is that every song on each of the three studio albums received at least one vote.

Favorite song - debut album

Fave song - All I Ever Wanted

Fave song - All At Once

Fave song - Such Hot Blood

In the “favorite overall song” category, the responses were all over the board – except for the one tune that stands above them all. The Airborne Toxic Event’s first and best known song remains their most beloved, with “Sometime Around Midnight” claiming just under 20% of the vote. “Innocence,” “All I Ever Wanted,” and “The Graveyard Near the House” round out the top four, with no real standouts among the rest of the TATE catalogue. (Note: graphs are not included for the questions that had dozens of choices listed, due to the difficulty of displaying all the options clearly.)

Musically, the responses were very similar, but this time “Innocence” took top spot with 22% of the vote. “Midnight” was the runner-up, with “All I Ever Wanted” clocking in at third. The real strength of “Graveyard” is its lyrics, which was recognized when it was crowned the best song lyrically with 26% of the vote. “Midnight” came in second, while “All At Once” snuck into the top three.

Turning our attention to the b-sides and non-album tracks, “This Losing” is the consensus number one, with 23% of the vote. Newcomer “The Way Home” came on strong to finish second, just ahead of “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses.” The newest single, “Hell and Back,” finished in the middle of the pack at 6%.

Fave b-side

One of the most intriguing questions was, “Which unreleased song would you most like to have a studio version of?” It was a four horse race between the classic “Echo Park,” live favorite “The Kids are Ready to Die” (punk version), the mysterious extended cut of “The Secret,” and the never-before-heard “Such Hot Blood.” In the end, “Kids” took top spot, with “Such Hot Blood” finishing second.

Unreleased song

A future post on This Is Nowhere will examine the mystery of the punk version of “Kids,” but in the meantime, here’s a snatch of what we’re missing – the only (partial) studio version we’ve heard, which will only make you long for it all the more:

The most lopsided question in the musical portion of the survey concerned the most popular cover song the band has performed. “The Book of Love” took this in a landslide victory with a whopping 41%. “Goodbye Horses” was the only other tune to hit double digits.

Best cover

On the other end of the spectrum, the most divisive question was whether or not we want to hear remixes of TATE songs. This one was split right down the middle, with 83 giving remixes the thumbs down, and 82 saying yes (four respondents did not answer this question). Speaking as a traditionalist (ie. “no”), though I would personally prefer that they not go down the remix road, I would certainly still buy it if they chose to do so.

Remixes

Live TATE

The survey closed with a series of questions about TATE’s much-ballyhooed live shows. With such a hardcore group of respondents and a band that tours constantly, it was not at all surprising to see that over 65% have seen the band live three or more times, with 17% having attended 11 or more shows. An impressive 62% have traveled outside their home state or province for a gig, and a majority have spent two hours-plus in line prior to a show. We TATE fans do love our concerts!

How many shows?

How far traveled?

Standing in Line

The social nature of the Airborne fan community is underlined by the fact that 42% of fans have made lasting friendships at a TATE show. Two thirds of fans follow setlists online when the band is on tour (and believe me, we appreciate the web traffic this creates).

TATE friends

Following setlists

The Airborne Toxic Event is known for musical variety, with followers being regularly treated to a number of distinct concert styles. When fans were asked to choose between a full-on-rock show, an acoustic set with The Calder Quartet, or a performance with an orchestra, all three options received significant support. But in the end, the sweaty rock club gig gets the nod.

Style of show

With the last two questions, we dug into the setlist. When it comes to rarely played tracks, the fans are hungry to hear “Duet” live. “Elizabeth” also received strong support, while the never-before-played “The Way Home” ranked third. (Again, the graphs for these two questions could not be displayed due to too many options.)

And last but not least, we were extremely pleased to see “Innocence” selected as the fans’ most beloved live song (oops… our personal bias is showing through). Unfortunately, this fan favorite was all but dropped on the most recent tour; one can only hope that the band will catch wind of this result and bring it back on the next leg. “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” was perhaps a surprising runner-up here, narrowly beating out “Sometime Around Midnight.” This category was dominated by songs from the first album, perhaps vindicating the band’s decision to build the set largely around the “oldies.”

So there you have it, folks. Did any of the results surprise you? Leave your comments below!

Thank you very much to all who participated in this madness. We look forward to conducting the survey again after the next album is released, to see how opinions shift over time.

Comments
  1. Alena says:

    Thank you for taking the time to conduct this study. I think the results show just how different TATE is from many other bands regarding their commitment to the artistry of their music, their dedication to their fans, and their influence in our lives. I thought my admiration for this band would just be a phase, but the connection I feel with nearly every song has yet to wear off even after three years of being a fan. I’m not one to hold people or things on a pedestal, but I really can’t get over just how much I enjoy their works, how much their music has helped me to handle bad situations, and the fact that the members of the band are really down to earth when you meet them. One question, I think might be interesting to include on the next survey is whether or not a fan started to learn to play an instrument, write music, or get involved in the arts after listening to TATE albums. I’d be curious to know just how many other people have been inspired by their writings and sounds as well. Thank you again for carrying out the study and for all your hard work on this blog!

    Like

  2. Amy Sutherland says:

    The “forum” question is interesting, but indicative of the falling activity on forums on the internet in general – Social Media sites have taken over for forums. There’s no real reason for fans to seek out a forum on a brand new site when they can leverage existing social media accounts (some of which the band frequents, ie Mikel’s twitter).
    Great survey – I wish I’d known about it to participate!

    Like

  3. Susan says:

    Thanks for pulling this together, Glen. I love this stuff. I wish I had made note of my answers when I answered the survey, since my ‘favorites’ change constantly. I would have liked comparing my responses to the masses. Once again, great job!

    Like

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