Nickelback, the Spice Girls and Céline Dion are artists who have sold millions upon millions of records, but their haters are often more vocal than their fans.

Indeed, music shamers are everywhere, and it's probably not hard for most of us to remember a time when we were called out and embarrassed for liking bands and artists.

James Deaville Carleton University music professor

James Deaville, a Carleton University music professor, says people should embrace their not-so-popular musical interests. (CBC)

A music professor at Carleton University wrote a paper on musical taste shaming when he was trying to come up with a topic to present at a musicology conference on none other than Billy Joel — a popular target of music shamers — held in Colorado earlier this month.

"When I was beginning to do research on Billy Joel in preparation for putting forward a proposal for the conference, I realized that when I looked at the popular media, there was a fairly strong wave of disrespect and dislike aimed at him, and that began to get me to think, 'Well why don't I just look at this whole phenomenon then?'" James Deaville told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning earlier this week.

"When applied to music, it's when your taste is considered by someone else as somehow second rate or, even worse than that, it's considered deplorable. And this is something that can be either stated or more indirectly nuanced."

Billy Joel Baltimore concert July 2015

Singer-songwriter Billy Joel performs in Baltimore in July 2015. He's a popular target of insecure music shamers. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Shamers are just insecure

But don't worry. It's only the shamer's own insecurities talking.

"I think it has its origins in personal insecurities about our own tastes, and so we then project that onto others," Deaville said.

"It's often someone who has been shamed who will pass on the shame, so to speak."

Deaville said he was surprised to learn at the conference that Billy Joel may in fact be shaming himself to some degree. Joel joined the conference via online video, and told attendees he's been moving more into the realm of classical music than pop.

"It was interesting to note how he himself has somewhat distanced himself from his pop song past, and now he's listening to classical music. So in a way, this is another level or type of shaming that he's subjecting himself to," Deaville said.