Bad Omens Don’t Owe You Anything

Madison Pickard
5 min readOct 23, 2023

Parasocial relationships have fans begging for a seat at the table to an artist's time, money, and even health-related decisions. In reality, they don’t owe you anything.

“I’m looking forward more to this concert than graduating college.”

My best friend would have heard iterations of this phrase since May, after I secured us tickets to the Bad Omens show in Dallas for October of this year.

Then disaster struck:

Bummer.

“Take the time you need to heal and rest. We’ll always be here. 🫶🏻❤️” One commenter responded, and the majority of people expressed the same sentiments.

It was a relief though — to see fans from all over coming together to support a band in a decision that was undoubtedly tough to make.

Putting on my Crisis PR hat, it was also a relief to see a band keep their fans looped in on the situation’s state. The bar is in Hell, but at least one of my favorite bands are meeting it.

I expected to see outraged fans threatening to burn their merchandise, or stop supporting the band altogether. But that was irrational of me, right?

Biding my time and waiting for the reschedule, or lack thereof, announcement, I did a little investigating of “Bad Omens Twitter”.

Like any artist, there are some… passionate fans. That’s cool though. I was a One Direction “stan”. I wrote the fanfiction, thought I knew them to a certain degree that no “normal” fan would. At 11 years old, I had planned my life out through the trajectory lens of being the wife of an international pop star.

There’s a phrase for this now.

Parasocial Relationship. An unbalanced relationship where one side invests huge amounts of emotional energy, interest and time, while the other side remains completely unaware of the other’s existence. It’s most common among celebrities, and sometimes, for music artists, a relative indicator of how big they’re getting.

Then, like the sun peering out on a cloudy day, the cancelled Dallas show is rescheduled for May, and I can refocus on how excited I am to graduate college in December.

That’s where this should end. But, inevitably, the allure of “Bad Omens Twitter” pulls me back in when I notice the tides are changing quickly.

It starts with a screenshot of an email of someone who had bought a VIP package, which originally included a meet-and-greet opportunity with the band. It’s a unique, but risky, opportunity. Many bands have opted out of such opportunities since the onset of COVID.

Screenshot via X

Another bummer. I can sympathize, though I didn’t have VIP, over a concert experience not going the way you want it to. That’s about as far as it extends from my end.

The reaction to this message had me scrambling for that damn Crisis PR hat again.

People were livid. Those wishes of goodwill & speedy healing soon turned to, well, the opposite. There were people actually threatening to burn their merchandise and stop supporting the band this time around.

I whipped out my notes from freshman year’s Intro to Public Relations course to get to the root of this madness. Am I missing something? I flipped to the pages appropriately titled Crisis Communications Unit and got to work.

  1. Be Transparent.

Looking back at the screenshot, I feel a bit relieved. This one is half the battle. How much clearer could it get?

2. Put The Customer First

This usually includes a refund offer and contacting the affected stakeholders directly. Okay, check. ✅

3. Communicate With The Public Quickly and Accurately

Three for three.

This is when I begin to realize people may have not entered the same agreement I did when deciding to be a fan of Bad Omens. To put it simply, the agreement goes: Bad Omens makes music. I like the music. Fullfilment ensues. Everyone is happy.

No, there seems to be some confounding variable that’s mislead a small, but very loud, minority of people on the internet into thinking they’re entitled to a seat at the table where decisions like this are made.

The band gave advanced notice that the M&G would not be was initially promised, and offered refunds at a point of purchase.

That’s where this truly, legitimately ends — if you’re rooted in reality.

Where the problems begin is when one’s own absolution of their own autonomy begins to call onto those parasocial relationships.

Trust me, I get it. I bought my tickets while working on an intern salary as a full-time student. But therein lies the catch. I made the decision to sink money into a concert experience. Bad Omens didn’t hold me at gunpoint and force me to declare my devotion to their craft.

From a PR perspective, they don’t need to make an overarching statement and call more attention to a situation that involves only a small number of people, like many are demanding they do. That would be actually insane to do.

They’ve amended on their ticketing sites of what the VIP packages include now. They reached out through Veeps to those who already had the VIP tickets on what changes are being made.

This is an ugly truth that some need to hear: they don’t owe you anymore than that.

Whether it was a decision for health, safety, or something else completely is not information you’re immediately authorized to have just because you’re a fan.

This phenomenon is not unique just to Bad Omens, nor is it the most extreme I’ve seen on the Internet. We’re living in a world where this hyperconnectivity to art we consume can be tangibly engaged with on digital platforms, which is amazing in its own way & has enriched live music experiences. However, this doesn’t forgo the privacy of an artist or what they choose to share with the public.

That’s my two cents on that. See you in Dallas!

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