So, if you haven't figured out by now I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and have been for a long time (1983). However, with Bruce's change in music direction to a folksy one with the release of the We Shall Overcome:The Seeger Sessions, I found myself on the outside looking in on this Springsteen period. Gone are the rushes to the store to buy the CD before its official release, the endless games of trying to score good tickets, and the hours spent on my favorite Springsteen fan site Greasylake. Almost all of my friends feel the same way and then I started wondering, what impact this change in direction has had on the rest of Springsteen's fan base. So, I went about this the way I could using whatever online data I could find at my fingertips.
My first visit was to Google Trends to see what the search activity looks like. However, because the data only goes back to 2004, I can't see what the long term trend looks like. However, judging from what is there, it looks like Bruce's trend has been level except for the Vote for Change Tour and the recent spike around the Seeger Sessions. One thing you can see is that the recent spike is not as large as the VFC one and now looks like he is returning to normal levels.
Next visit was to Alexa to look at reach of the three best sites - Greasylake, Backstreets.com, and brucespringsteen.net. The Alexa data was a little more interesting because I can track back to 2002. What does it show? Well for Greasylake, Backstreets, and brucespringsteen.net it shows a drop off in traffic with the most pronounced dip on backstreets.com which looks like a Roger Clemens split-finger fastball falling off the table.
Ok, so the traffic is definitely lower on all of the main sites and one could assume so is the search activity. However, I was still missing the final piece of the puzzle which was whether there was a change in the fan base.
Enter my final stop which was Bill Tancer over at Hitwise. I asked Bill to take a look at the data hoping he was a Springsteen fan (or at least a casual fan) and you know what, Bill published a great report over at his blog called Springsteen: The Boss Goes Folksy. I won't steal Bill's thunder too much, but he looked at Backstreets.com's website visitor profile from last year and compared it to this year. He found that Springsteen's fan base has indeed shifted from an Urban Core profile to an Elite Suburban/Midtown Mix. Very interesting.
So, traffic is down across the board as is search activity for the change in music direction. Also, it appears that the current fan base is not made up of the working class people and is more elitist. My guess is that the activity drop-off was probably planned, but what shocked me the most was the shift to the elite suburban mix due to folk music. I guess the people that enjoy folk music are not the down to earth people you would have guess and instead seem to have a lot of money. Hmmm, I wonder what their political profile would be???