Words by: Marianne Jacobsen
In the days of mass consumption, intellectual property theft and downright shadiness in the music industry a new (well not that new) beast has appeared.
The VIP Package
As one man wrote “Make a contribution and you’ll get that better seat.” So who are these “VIPs”? Are they any different than a regular fan? Are they special because they have money? Are they fans at all and just want to feel very important so they can brag to their friends or impress others with images of them with a performer so they can say they “met” them?
These have been my burning questions for quite a while now as concerts get more expensive and waiting by the bus nowadays ensures removal by a security guard instead of an entertainer stepping out to have a chat and sign a few autographs. Mind you, this still happens. Just not as much.
I have attended many fan (club) meet and greets prior to the VIP package being for sale. I have even been invited to after show parties (which personally besides the people watching were pretty boring). I heard that entertainers more often than not don’t even show up.
In 1992 my BFF Lannie and I were given passes to Guns N’ Roses after party during the Metallica/Guns N’ Roses/Faith No More tour. As I walked around that day I saw a great deal of the same after show passes and thought myself, “well this will be fun.” Young kids with their parents were beaming as they proudly wore the pass around the CNE Grandstand that they were going to meet “them”. When the night of performances came to an end. The pass holders were corralled into an area and told they had “over provided passes” and that not everyone would be able to go to the after party. As scantily clad women began to walk over to the man with the list, whispering something in his ear. Being from a smaller Canadian town it didn’t dawn on me that those whispers were propositions. However, Lannie caught on and said, “Fuck this -lets get out of here”.
Eventually the man with the list said that was “it” and everyone could go home. I honestly didn’t give a fuck because I met Kirk Hammett for the first time on this day so – Nothing Else Mattered. The look of disappointment on the faces of those young fans though was brutal. Fast-forward 2016, now it’s not about who you blow or who you know. Now it’s about what colour your Amex Card is. Just this past Valentines weekend I could have spent the evening with Jon Bon Jovi in Nashville for $1,800 USD (air fare not included). Of course, that’s me and 300 of my close cougar friends. For $2,500.00 (that’s about $10,000 CDN) I can get a laminate that says VIP, a couple of swag goodies that’s are signed and drinks in the Welcome to the Jungle lounge at Guns and Roses – but I don’t get to meet the band. I can stand on the stage and get my picture taken though!
I can remember looking at laminates with a medium to high level of jealousy (I am an Aquarius you know) and wishing it was me. Now that envy has turned to I don’t know maybe disdain? Now I just see them and wonder -How much for what? I’ve only done the Down VIP (twice actually it was so nice!) and can say for the minimal amount I paid – no one is getting rich off of this and fans get to meet their heroes. Nothing is more exciting than being around someone who is about to have a dream come true.
Chris Adler is auctioning off a ½ hour coffee conversation with him starting at $150. And the greatest band in the entire world Corrosion of Conformity says meet them by the merch booth or the bar at shows – they don’t do meet and greets, everyone is VIP. So why is this happening? Why is something that used to be so coveted for sale?
The biggest question being, who the hell can afford $2,500.00 to see a concert? Not this chick! With the introduction of the theft of music online (which is and continues to be a game changer both good and bad for the music world) financial priorities to keep the performers in their day job had to change. The purchasing of merch items as well as strong attendance at live performances became paramount to the longstanding success and continual touring of most acts. Record sales meant/mean (and still do) shit these days. Unless the performer themselves own the rights to their music
I don’t know anyone who has the $2,500.00 to spend on a ticket, so I could not get an idea about the VIP experience on that level. However, every fan that I spoke to that had been to a VIP meet and greet where they left with signed and exclusive items as well as a photo with the band said it was worth every cent. However, all of the VIP greets I am talking about are under $200.
Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUDDY) when we talked this summer said it is a necessary evil to be able to survive in this music industry. He also said that the VIP meet and greets bring them closer to their fans, and that Fear Factory always ensures an authentic experience with a treasured item only those in attendance would have for a keepsake.
I know I hear people complain about VIP packages. However I also know what it feels like to meet your hero – its priceless.
My question is – as the price tag gets higher it seems the less accessible the performers are.
Almost as if they know that the real fans can’t afford the high prices and they are sticking it to the corporate suits –“because they can”. The only thing I can say in closing is that – meeting your hero can be a dream come true. The only way to keep our heroes coming to our town and making themselves available is by attending shows and buying merch. It’s also the way to keep ticket prices at the “working man” rate without starving performers.
In the end, the $2,500.00 is affordable to someone (If you are single call me) and a VIP is bought and sold. I will say that I believe if you make yourself a VIP in life, perhaps one day your hero might want to meet you as much as you them. There are better ways of getting a bands attention besides flashing your tits or opening your wallet. Although, tits work pretty well, or so I’ve been told.