It took me a few hours and a visit to the cemetery before I decided to blog about this topic. I’m already jaded when it comes to the topic of The Cloud – that is, the official Rain fan club – because it’s the same issues every year and the same issues are still not addressed.
The heads up: The Cloud 7th Board is asking for opinions from members and would-be members on how to go about the recruitment process for Cloud 8th. You may check it out the English thread at the Rain-Cloud community forum, or if you’re not a member yet and/or find it tedious to go there, you may try this post from the CloudPH Facebook. The gist of the memo is, they are asking for opinions on whether to lower the membership fees in order to entice more fans to register. They presented the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.
I’m sure that as soon as I post this entry for everyone to read, there would be at least one person out there who would say, “why are you posting this on your blog? You should post it there at Rain-Cloud so that they will know what you think.” If you’re that person, then I can bet 100% guaranteed that you’re a new Cloud and you have no idea how things have been ever since they opened the club to overseas members. Or, you’re an old-timer Cloud who has been wearing blinders all this time. In any case, here’s my news for you: THEY DO NOT LISTEN NOR THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT WHAT FANS THINK, ESPECIALLY NON-KOREAN FANS.
Anyway… there’s another reason why I’d rather post my opinion on this in my own kingdom instead of there. It’s because my only opinion is this, and it has been the same opinion in all three years that I have been an Official Cloud: For the past years, the gripe of most fans which turned out to be the turning point as to why more and more fans (especially non-Koreans and Japanese) have opted to forgo their Cloud membership is that most of us never get the benefits that were promised to us when we signed up. Imagine this: every friggin’ year, overseas fans had to experience some sort of difficulty signing up. Either we have to wire the money (which means we have to pay extra for transfer fees on top of the extra that we have to pay for the shipping fees as compared to what Korean fans pay) or we have to find some other way just to pay. If not for the insistence of some Overseas Masters, The Cloud wouldn’t allow the use of another person’s credit card to register for Cloud 7th. To be honest, if the USA Master wasn’t among those who demanded for it, I bet my ass they wouldn’t even put it under consideration. I mean, why would they listen to the Philippines Master, right?
If you survive all the hardships of registration and actually become A Cloud, here comes the next part: the club activities. Take note of this: each Cloud year starts with a fanmeeting – in Korea – then a concert in Korea and/or Japan, and then maybe another fanmeeting in Japan. Then Ji Hoon starts having shows/concerts outside of Korea and Japan, and then for some reason? Being A Cloud doesn’t matter anymore. Try looking back and you will see that I’m right.
The Cloud benefits also state that each member is entitled to only one fanmeeting or event. If that’s really the case, then we wouldn’t be seeing ‘the usual suspects’ in all of his fanmeetings and club events, right? Tell me if that has ever happened.
If I am a non-Korean, non-Japanese Rain fan who knows all this, would I still be encouraged to renew my membership? Why would I waste USD50 when I can buy a VIP ticket to an overseas concert just by knowing the right people to contact? Sure, there’s the bragging rights that come with owning a Cloud ID (though it’s just a generic ID that can be fabricated anywhere at a much cheaper price) but if you’re someone who’s not oozing with cash in your pockets, you will think twice, thrice before letting your money go. There were some who would still renew no matter what because that is their way of supporting Rain, but hey, I can support Rain, too, by buying his albums and DVDs from legitimate sources. In fact, I think I am showing my support much, much better this way than registering at his fan club.
Given the many reasons why fans don’t find it necessary to sign up for The Cloud, how can they entice more fans to join in and increase the club’s membership?
What The Cloud should figure out is exactly why the fans are deciding not to register as an Official Cloud anymore. If you dig deeper, you will see that it’s not the amount of membership fee that’s the issue. It’s how the membership benefits are being carried out. For me, it is much better for them to just stick to the, “membership benefits include an Official ID and fan club goods” and don’t promise such BS stuff like fanmeetings (in Korea or Japan where most fans cannot attend) and priority fan club seating in concerts (which, again, only applies to Korea and Japan. FYI, the fan club tickets for the Intensity show here in the PH? Were all negotiated by Cloud Philippines. We didn’t get nor we needed any assistance nor even an endorsement from J Tune nor The Cloud on that). That way, the fans won’t be expecting anything more.