Musicians Who Treat Their Fans Like Trash

Customer appreciation is a no-brainer marketing concept that mutually benefits both the customer and the business. Retail industries from food and motor to furniture and electric all have some type of rewards program. Why? Because they keep customers happy, loyal, and away from competitors. But apart from how rudimentary and glaringly obvious a principal of keeping a customer — you know, the one who is ultimately going to keep the money coming in — happy, the concept just adds up on a common-sense level.

Unless you're a musician, it seems. Now, don't get us wrong. Of course, there are celebs like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and JoJo Siwa, all who all have enormous fanbases with stellar track records of artist-fan relations — but not all artists are like that. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of fans is not industry-specific, per se.

This list, however, is a special look at a specific group of culprits in the music industry. Artists you may have never guessed, who have, in one way or another, garnered a reputation of being pretty crummy to their fanbase. They say never meet your heroes, and these musicians are prime examples of what exactly that is. 

Lauryn Hill's lateness

There's fashionably late; then there's Lauryn Hill. The 46-year-old Grammy award-winning singer has developed quite the reputation for showing up late and leaving early at her shows. The singer and rapper has even doubled down on the behavior several times. What a way to show the people who came out and bought a ticket you care, right?

Whether you want to point at her Atlanta performance in 2016, which she attributed her tardiness to "aligning" her "energy," before performing for 30 minutes and leaving (via Complex), the European leg of her tour in 2018 (when she caused a stir for showing up to her Brussels and Paris shows two hours late), or even her defending her actions in a feature appearance on Nas' 2021 record titled "Nobody," if one thing is clear, Ms. Hill is going to show up when she shows up. "My awareness like Keanu in the Matrix/I'm savin' souls and y'all complainin' bout my lateness," she raps on the 2021 track. 

Then there was her half-apology on Facebook back in 2016 when she reportedly didn't show up until 10:20 pm at an 8 pm show: "I don't show up late to shows because I don't care ... I have nothing but love and respect for my fans," she began, adding, "I am at my best when I am open, rested, sensitive and liberated to express myself as truthfully as possible. For every performance that I've arrived to late, there have been countless others where I've performed in excess of two hours."

Justin Bieber vs his Beliebers

Once upon a time, back in 2014, everyone was a Belieber — the affectionate name Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber calls his fanbase. Between singing, playing drums, and rapping, it was hard not to be fascinated with the little kid who, seemingly out of nowhere, popped up and danced alongside Ludacris and Usher. Everyone had Bieber fever, and then suddenly, something changed.

In 2016, Bieber socked a fan in the face before a concert in Barcelona, Spain. According to video footage published by TMZ, the Biebs was in the backseat of an SUV being escorted to his tour stop in the city. That same year, Bieber was captured at a tour in Birmingham, England, telling his fans not to be so excited to see him. "Can you guys do me a favor? Can you guys just relax for about two seconds?" Bieber asked the crowd (via People). "I get it, I get it, but I'm like two feet away from you. And I can hear you. I appreciate all the love, it's amazing. But can you show it in a different way? Screaming is just so obnoxious."

Then there's Bieber simply not learning the words to a song before a concert. Back in 2017, he found himself dodging objects from fans during his performance at the Summerburst Music Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, after admitting to not knowing "Despacito" because he doesn't speak Spanish.

Meek Mill's about the money

Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill has quite an interesting relationship with his fans. On the one hand, the "Dreams and Nightmares" rapper has no problem showing off his loot. He even started a #BelieveChallenge, calling on his fans to "post your progress no matter how far you came." However, don't expect the star to help you out. Simply put, the money is for show, not sharing.

In 2013, for example, fans reported to blogger Necole Bitchie that he was allegedly charging fans over $100 for pictures, per GossipOnThis. According to the fan, he said, "no money, no picture!" Similarly, back in 2017, Meek caught heat online after posting a video showing him demanding a homeless man do pushups in exchange for $20. According to the source who shared the information to Daily News, he was allegedly explaining that he didn't want to be "giving out no free money." As he said in the video, "No, no, no, give me 10 pushups and I'll give you $20 right now," adding, "We ain't giving out no free money. Go ahead."

$20 appears to be Meek's threshold, as a similar situation happened with him in 2020. A now-viral video show's the "Expensive Pain" rapper only giving $20 to a group of kids selling water bottles in Atlanta. When asked about it, Meek Mill replied on Twitter: "I ain't giving no young boys no money to go buy no weed" One could say that he's teaching them financial responsibility?

Ariana Grande's secret shade

Although she always comes with receipts, there seems to constantly be a rift happening between Ariana Grande and her millions of followers and God knows how many friends. There was that time in 2014 when, according to Daily News, she was allegedly overheard saying she wished her fans would "all f***ing die." And, while she's since cleared up the rumor, it does not help Grande's case when she openly disses her massive fanbase on a regular basis.

Once, during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the singer said she never came up with the name of her fandom, Arianators, even joking with Kimmel about it: "They gave themselves that. I originally was calling them The Ariana Army, then Tiny Elephants, I don't know how that came about, but it stuck for a while." Kimmel replied: "I think Ariana Army was better because Arianators sounds like something you'd buy at the AutoZone."

Then in 2020, she flat out admitted to disliking the name in her "Positions" album thank you notes. It read: "Thank you to the most loving, incredible fanbase of all time with the ugliest fandom name ever created. Seriously, no thank yous for whoever coined the phrase 'Arianators'. You get no thank you. Jk. Love you all."

Rihanna's too royal for regulars

To question whether Rihanna treats her fans like trash or not would also mean assuming that the Grammy-award winning queen of Barbados has a bad bone in her body. That's complete nonsense. The question, then, is whether Rihanna cares about her fans. For starters, she hasn't released music in over five years. Ms. Fenty's last studio album was "Anti" in 2016, and while she's dropped off a verse or two as a guest vocalist since then, there's no way her fanbase has any priority with this kind of absence from the industry. 

To make matters worse, Rihanna trolls fans about it. After teasing "R9," which is the name of her upcoming ninth studio album since 2018, she occasionally suggests that the album is complete and that the drop is imminent. She not only fails to release it, but she also makes sure to let people know that some of it is done. We get it: Rihanna's busy building an empire in other realms and whatnot, but her history of mocking adds to the mounting suspicion that maybe she doesn't really like her supporters.

Beyond the music thing, back in 2014, for example, Rihanna received backlash for mocking a 16-year-old Baltimore girl who wore a Rihanna-inspired dress to her school's Hollywood-themed prom. "I was very offended," the girl told Fox Baltimore. "Why throw shade on it when you had on the exact same thing. The poses was different but the outfit wasn't. She don't love her fans like she says she does."

Kanye West does not care about his fanbase

Kanye is infamous for a lot of things. One, in particular, is his rant during a 2005 Hurricane Katrina telethon — you know the one. Well, in borrowing his own words: Kanye West does not care about his fans. In fact, if there were ever an argument for anyone who probably hates their fanbase, West would have to be at the top of that list. One has to ask, does he ever appreciate his consumers?

In 2015, West explained at The Daily Front Row awards show (via E!) that "not smiling makes [him] smile" and that it was something he picked in a historical book he came across. "I looked at all these people's photos and they look so real and their outfits were incredible and they weren't smiling ... cause it just wouldn't look as cool." This explanation most likely suffices, right?

Then there are Ye's political views. Sure, vote for who you want and subscribe to whichever ideological belief that fits you best, but the "Stronger" rapper, after stating he would've voted for Donald Trump had he voted and meeting with the then-president-elect to discuss "multicultural issues," appeared at the TMZ headquarters to say: "When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... That sounds like a choice." The lack of sensitivity for a group of people who've been in his corner for the majority of his career is telling of how much he considers his supporters — much like the prices of his clothing.

Christina Aguilera critiques hit hard

When you think of powerhouse singers, Christina Aguilera is at the top of most lists. The Grammy winner, at this point of her career, is R&B and pop royalty and, for the most part, has nothing else to prove for the rest of her career, which is probably why she turns up her nose at talent that doesn't match hers.

In her five years on "The Voice," the "You Are Beautiful" singer grew a reputation for her often less-than-thoughtful criticisms of 'The Voice' contestants. According to reports, the former judge once scolded a contestant for allegedly not paying super close attention to her and even reportedly asked a male singer to take off his pants. And it apparently doesn't matter if you're a fan of the show or an admirer of her music as a fellow A-lister. 

"One Day At A Time" star Valerie Bertinelli, when recalling the time she met Aguilera backstage on "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen," has had a bad fan experience as well. "I was a fan at that time a long time ago, and I went up to her ... at a Van Halen concert, and I said, 'Oh my God, I think you're a beautiful singer.'" Bertinelli said Xtina allegedly turned her back to her and said, "Ugh, yeah, whatever." As Bertinelli went on, "She gave me the cold shoulder, and I thought, 'B***h, I'm a fan. You can't be nice to me?' She might have gotten better."

Gene Simmons has no sympathy

Gene Simmons is a product of hard rock. As frontman of the legendary band, KISS, there's a certain culture that went along with his brand of music that, in retrospect, along with many things that went on in the '80s, is not so acceptable now.  

The AV Club reviewed Peter Criss' autobiography, "Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS" — and it can give you a good idea of the antics that went on. "The band went from smoking weed and chasing girls to f***ing 19-year-olds in their signature make-up and costumes (the ultimate form of rock-star narcissism), doing mountains of blow, destroying hotels, [and] hurling lunch meat on naked groupies then shoving them in hotel elevators."

The thing is, the rockstar lifestyle doesn't exactly favor the fans. When speaking on mental health issues and depression to Songfacts in 2014, Simmons said: "I'm the guy who says 'Jump!' when there's a guy on top of a building who says, 'That's it, I can't take it anymore, I'm going to jump. Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the f**k up, have some dignity and jump! You've got the crowd." The whole Lucifer-loving, sex-crazed group of guys that live outside the lines shtick is not cute when it involves dismissing possible fans who suffer from mental illness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Madonna gives naughty notes

Madonna is an icon. Period. But when you've been a legend for a whopping four decades and counting, it's to be expected that some unflattering moments surface. After all, she is human. It just so happens that the "Die Another Day" singer's moments happen to be with her fans. 

One Reddit witness says they allegedly saw Madonna write "f**k you" instead of signing an autograph for a fan. Similarly, the Daily Mail reports that after showing up late to one Manchester, England, concert in December 2015, she told an agitated crowd: "All you b****es who keep complaining about it can shut the f**k up," adding, "If you diva b****es want to keep complaining about it don't come to my show." 

Then there's the admission from her former close friend Darlene Lutz. In a sworn deposition obtained by Page Six, in legal cross-examination about her attempt to auction off the Material Girl's memorabilia, she says the Queen of Pop doesn't care about her fans. "Madonna didn't handle her fan mail. She didn't care," Lutz said. That being said, according to Madonna in an accompanying affidavit filed in the case, "I trusted her not only as a friend but also as someone who assisted me with private matters, including packing up my personal belongings in my residences." 

Adam Levine says you're not worthy

Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine has had not-so-fortunate fan encounters. To put it shortly, fans feel like Levine thinks they're beneath him. One fan allegedly told Reddit (via Gigwise) that Levine reportedly is picky about who is and isn't worthy of his autograph. Then there are his live show antics. In another instance, in Chile, fans were irate with his band's performance at a concert. "Love your music, but your show in Viña del Mar was disrespectful to every fan who paid," wrote one Twitter user, while another remarked, "Haven't seen such unprofessionalism in a good while."

Adam tried to exonerate himself, explaining in a video statement afterward (via Metro) that "there were some things holding me back sonically." He added, "I wanted to sound good number one, and I wanted to look good and feel good number two," the star admitted. "I did let you guys down and I'm sorry."

Then there's how Levine handled a female fan rushing him onstage during a 2021 performance at the Hollywood Bowl. After throwing her arms around him, he reacted by saying "f***," grimacing, then shaking it off. He responded to the now-viral video on Instagram, saying (via Yahoo!): "Without our fans, we don't have a job. I say that all the time to our fans. To think that anyone would believe that I thought that I thought ... our fans were beneath us, or less than us, makes my stomach turn. That's just not who I am." Yet, actions speak louder than words.

Billy Corgan is an angry guy

It's unsure what you can expect out of the lead man for a band called Smashing Pumpkins, but their frontman Billy Corgan, according to one fan, does not like it when you're too up and close. 

During a show in Memphis at the Orpheum in 2016, a fan jumped on stage, causing Corgan to lash out violently. "Get the f**** off my stage before I punch you in the f****** face," he calmly said. The fan then left the stage, followed by Corgan throwing up the "rock on" hand gesture before resuming the performance of The Rolling Stones classic "Angie."

Corgan has also come under fire for more serious issues. Queerty reports that he was degrading to a transgender woman in 2011, while in 2016, The Guardian reported that while chatting to radio host Alex Jones, the singer compared "social justice warriors" to "Maoists and the Ku Klux Klan."

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Toby Keith

Whatever happened to southern hospitality? You don't get too many chances with country music star Toby Keith, who has confronted fans face-to-face at concerts and is on record showing up drunk to performances, to his fans' dismay. 

According to goss rag TMZ, the fan confrontation happened in Pikeville, Kentucky back in 2009, when Keith "confronted" a fan face-to-face after he reportedly flipped him off and then hurled a beer at him. After chewing the fan off, the concertgoer was escorted by security. Toby apologized for the incident immediately after it happened, no arrests were made, and the rest of the concert went off without a hitch.

The second incident occurred at El Dorado's Dam Music Festival in Kansas, where Keith displayed yet another lack of professionalism by showing up drunk, per The Wichita Eagle. If Keith has shown one thing, it's that his shows are going to go how he wants them, regardless of who's there or not.