Artist Meet-and-Greets in the Era of Rage

I’ve been to dozens of meet-and-greets with artists, those fast encounters between fans and performers conducted backstage before or after a show. I’ve also been to plenty of autograph sessions where people wait in line to get a book, album or some other piece of merchandise signed. All the ones I’ve been to have either been free (a book signing at a store) or something staged for contest winners.

Today, though, many artists sell these personal audiences for big dollars. VIP packages, some costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. With revenue from music sales continuing to slip, paid meet-and-greets are becoming increasingly important to the bottom line. Now, though, there are new concerns about security, especially after the senseless killing of former The Voice contestant, Christina Grimmie. Billboard reports:

Though largely over-shadowed by the massacre at the Pulse in Orlando the same weekend, the shooting death ofThe Voice finalist Christina Grimmie by a stalker while signing autographs in the same city the same weekend has forced the live music industry to take a hard look at close engagement with fans at a time when accessibility to artists has become an accepted — and, some would say, necessary — part of fan culture.

These close interactions have become common, particularly for developing acts trying to build connections with music fans. For more established artists, autograph signings and/or private performances and access to sound checks have become a revenue producer on the road, either through sponsorships, ticket bundle upsells, or VIP programs orchestrated by promoters, venues, or private entities like CID Entertainment and SLO Tickets. For artists at all levels, minimal effort and time spent closely interacting with a limited number of fans can bring in revenue of as much to 50 percent to 100 percent higher than the face value of a ticket, and sometimes, when these programs are tied to a sponsorship deal, significantly more.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “Artist Meet-and-Greets in the Era of Rage

  • June 19, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I shouldn’t have to point this out but I’m going to anyway: yes Christina Grimmie’s incident is not unique. There have been other incidents. Dimebag Darrell comes to mind off the top of my head. I’m sure there are others but I’m too lazy to do my homework here. However, this is like airplane crashes. Again, I’m too lazy to go get exact facts and numbers but for every failed plane trip there are many who succeed. Many others. I’m sure if I did count the numbers they’d be staggering. Just cuz there’s been a plane crash, that doesn’t make it any less safe to fly. I once read there are more bathtub related deaths than plane related deaths. Again. I really should google all this before I hit send.

    My point is, yes the threat is there that some lunatic is gonna gun down their own favorite celebrity, or just use a gun to criticize the latest album. However that threat has always been there, and the incidents are massively low. I’m upset over Grimmie’s death. However, I imagine the last thing she’d want other artists to take away from this would be to end meet and greets or even live performances. It’s more than just the money. The live experience is a significant reason for music; the connection between the artists and their fans may be more important than anything else.

    Unless you’re Emily Dickinson, you’re never going to become famous screaming into a hope chest. What’s life without some risk? It may be corny to say “if we don’t do X, we let the terrorists win” but I think in this instance it’s appropriate. Those who wallow in fear and hate and spread that message of blood across the Earth can’t be allowed to win this. Every now and then we gotta poke our heads out of our little prairie holes and sing to the sun. Predators be damned.

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