By Andrew Catania
This does not date back to decades but only a couple of years when crazy fans and music enthusiasts would try sneaking in behind the stage to catch a glimpse of their favorite music idol. And if they got lucky, click a photograph with them, brag about it in the circle of friends and family, and preserve it to show it to their grandchildren.
Later, as the music and showbiz industry took a creative-cum-commercial turn, many musicians, celebrities, and bands adopted it as a strategy to offer a lucky one, a chance to meet and click a picture with them after the concert.
This was something that the entire music world, including the artists and the crazy fans, went gaga over. It started as a mere advertising and promotional tactic, for musicians and bands wanted to lure more people into buying their concert tickets, and for fans, who would excitedly hope to be the chosen one. However, the stunt soon took a commercial turn. The celebrity management and music and showbiz marketing agencies soon detected the additional potential profit that could be slipped out of their fan’s pockets. And hence, started the concept of VIP tickets and the ‘sweet sounding’ meet and greets, a mere piece of paper costing a fortune that made you eligible for front rows or a spot closest to your favorite idol.
For those who don’t know, a meet and greet isn’t anything like a warm and friendly chit-chat with your favorite singer, telling him how much you have adored him since your childhood, over a cup of cappuccino, and clicking a picture, in the end, to commemorate and cherish for a lifetime.
It is a long queue of hundreds of enthusiasts like you, who have dusted their pockets off to pay, only to shake hands and click a selfie or a picture of your favorite icon, that shows him/her flaunting a perfectly cosmetic smile or a pose in which he’s not even looking at you.
Today, music bands charge as much as $800 to $1500 and more for a mere click, in the name of meets and greets. Most of the time, the idea and activity are planned and managed by a PR or record label agency or the concert organizers. The exuberant price of these meet and greets cumulates to turn into millions that are shared in preset proportions by the singer or the band, the PR or adverting agency and the record label company. Hence, there’s barely any logic left to explain selling a brand on such preposterous prices and to advocate that it is okay to charge a blatantly high amount from those who can afford. What else could it be called other than an obnoxious business stunt and pure exploitation?
Technology, personal music gadgets, privacy breaches and illegal distribution of records have altogether cast a great cut down in the records sales. An individual is more likely to listen to the song on Sound Cloud or watch the video on YouTube, than dropping into a music store to buy the DVD. This is the prime reason that artists, bands, musicians, and singers are always on tours and they have the whole year’s concerts planned in advanced since this is the only way to make some profit and to make up for the high amount invested in the production of a music record. From this perspective, keeping the ethics aside, it sounds just business-like, as just another money-making strategy. However, for this, a musician or band must have a sound and extensive fan base willing to pay.
The fans’ perspective varies in this context. It is most acceptable to the ‘diehard fans with massive pockets’ to spend for a picture with the idol. Even those who cannot afford to purchase these pricey meet and greets often wish to ‘buy’ the chance when their pockets are loaded. However, many others state it as pure exploitation and an immoral manipulation of the fandom.
The truth of the matter is that it is a mere money-making stunt, and no matter how hard it is for you to swallow, your favorite icon and your idol too gets a share of the amount you have paid. However, the question that arises here is not if it is okay for those who can afford to spend on these meet and greets. The point to ponder here is:
“If someone charges you to meet them, do they deserve to be met?”