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We have covered 5 Seconds of Summer before and they are one of my favorite bands.  They are also one of the new generation bands raised on social media.  You know, the type of band which tends to be more interactive with fans and cater to them on a more personal (and round the clock) level than ever before.  This is accomplished via tweets, feeds, selfies, and constant posts.

Fan taking selfie with One Direction's Harry Styles
Fan taking selfie with One Direction’s Harry Styles

Ah, for the contemporary concert fan it’s a different world from the one I was raised in.   I mean everyone is doing this now.  In my time, I just can’t see Robert Plant taking a selfie on stage next to Bonzo during Moby Dick or Ozzy tweeting about Randy Rhoads or Huey Lewis wearing a Gopro. A new world indeed.

Avril Lavigne at a meet and greet
Avril Lavigne at a meet and greet

So, having said that I had to take notice of this story by MTV about how they flew a fan out to not only meet 5SOS (as they are affectionately referred to), but this fan also made it to the tour bus and even got to listen to the group perform on the bus up close and personal.  Wow.  I won’t even try to retell the story and instead a brief video says it all so take a second to check it out for yourself here.  In fact, if you look further you will see that this “VIP” treatment is a trend, and a big one at that.  And, it’s not just for boy bands either; everybody is doing it.

So, I thought I would look a little further and see what’s really going on here.  I took a moment to check out a really cool site called “VIP Nation.” Definitely worth checking that site out and of course many artists themselves offer VIP packages so they aren’t hard to find.  I guess I am paying attention to that stuff now.  Man, things change.

Anyway, I also looked at some artist pages and was intrigued to see many of them do indeed offer VIP packages.  For example, Chicago offers VIP packages and they are pretty reasonably priced and interesting and so does 311.  That’s a pretty different mix huh?

So, I have some thoughts on this cottage industry.

First, I think from a marketing point of view it’s a smart idea.  I like it.  I think artists should connect with their fans and know what they are thinking.  After all, the fans do pay their salary.  Thus, it makes sense to know what they think and what they like.  Plus, it does give the artist the ability to say “thank you” in a sincere and personal way.

Taylor Swift at a marathon meet and greet for fans
Taylor Swift at a marathon meet and greet for fans
Demi Lovato at a meet and greet with a young fan
Demi Lovato at a meet and greet with a young fan

Second, in talking with people about this subject I frequently hear something like “oh, I can’t believe they charge that much just to take a picture with them.”  Well, I do understand it.  When I was a kid my dad took me to a baseball convention and I remember approaching a “star” at that time and he was making insane money.  I remember asking the player to sign a ball and no sooner did I finish my request did a guy accost my father for $25. That didn’t sit well with me for quite a while even as a kid.  I thought, “what’s the big deal?  I really have to pay for this?”  Well, the big deal is twofold.  First, the player worked hard to build up his career to where someone wants that autograph.  All that work to get there should be rewarded.  Second, by charging something it kind of filters the real fans from the non-real fans.  I guess its a form of crowd or fan control.  Finally, by charging I think it balances the artist’s time versus the ability of fans to meet the artist.  If you did not do it this way signings and meets and greets could last for days which is not fair to the artist.  Listen, entertainment is a business and time is money.  Of course, you have to balance that with being reasonable but I think you get the point.

Finally, I think it’s a sign of the time which are a changin’ as they say.  Fans in the old days were limited to their favorite artist coming to town once or maybe twice a year.  A radio interview was a treat, a TV spot was over the top and, fans endlessly looped their favorite tunes patiently waiting the artist’s return almost like Robinson Caruso waiting for a rescue ship. That is now passe.  With the help of social media fans are much more in touch with their artists.  Social media has allowed fans to get much closer to their artists than ever before.  And don’t fool yourself, “fans” are not just us common folk anymore.

Justin Bieber and basketball great Michael Jordan
Justin Bieber and basketball great Michael Jordan

So, the VIP stuff is just a natural extension of social media in my mind and I was just askin’.  Hey I gotta go.  I have to see what Adam Levine is doing tonight.  Maybe we can hang out.  I will tweet him and ask.

 Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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