Meet & Greet. Meet & Great?
The BBC New website this morning published an article:
“Is it worth paying to meet your heroes?”
This got me thinking. Sure, this is about musicians in this context, in response to Matty Healy from The 1975’s tweet, which reads:
“Who came up with payed meet and greets? Did they think "Surely there must be something else we can monetise........OH! Human connection!! They'll eat that up!"
MEET YOUR FANS OR DON’T. DON'T ONLY MEET THEM IF YOU'RE GETTING PAYED HONESTLY WHAT ARE YOU DOING”
Now, I get his point. You’re either grateful for your fans, the people who buy your albums, attend your concerts and in repayment for this, you’re nice to them at the stage door, and stay for autographs, photos etc. Or you chat with them in the bar afterwards, or whatever. OR, you charge them through the nose for the opportunity to be in a small room with you for an hour.
I wondered about this. As someone who attends comic cons all around the place as a “special guest”, arguably I’m on the strange side of this. I’m on the side where people are making a financial outlay in return for a moment of conversation, a signed photo and selfie.
I think the difference is that at comic cons, those of us there aren’t immediately available at the time of our performance. You don’t go to the cinema and find the cast outside in the lobby afterwards (well, not generally!). We are interpretive artists, generally known for playing a character on film or television.
When I mentioned on twitter that I was considering writing my thoughts on this, I received a tweet from @M_L_A_Z:
“It depends on where and when the meet and greet takes place. If it takes place during a con, then it should be included with the VIP pass and only for the holders of the pass. If it’s a concert or play, it should be free because it’s no different from doing stage door”.
I’m inclined to disagree with part of this.
For one, I wouldn’t expect a meet and greet to happen outside a fire exit down a side road behind a venue. That’s something else entirely.
Secondly, a meet and greet should, ideally make you feel like a VIP. Let’s stay in the world of performance for a moment. The more you pay for your seat, the more you get. These days at the theatre, a top price seat often includes a free programme, maybe a drink and an ice-cream at the interval and often a VIP lounge for before and after the show. You want more? You pay for it. It should be the same with a meet and greet. You pay for it, you expect it to come with an experience. However, in some ways, it should still be a part of the overall performance. Like a private encore. The audience leaves, you move to a secret room and your “star” comes in and gives you something that not everyone else has got. You’re special.
At a stage door, you get someone who is ultimately trying to get home and go to bed in the most time effective way possible, just via a line of sharpies and glossy programmes.
The comic con side of this is another matter entirely. Comic Con, generally speaking, attendees are there in order to meet the “people off the telly”. That’s what the gig is. It’s a grocery store for “famous faces”. You go, and you pay according to the quality or pedigree of the “star” in question. So yes, I am inclined to agree, if you pay for preferential treatment you should receive it.
Personally, I try to think of every comic con autograph or selfie as a personal mini meet and greet. People are paying for something. They’re handing of their hard earned money in return for a moment of your time. Or at least that’s how I look at it. They walk away with their selfie and autographed photo, but that’s a souvenir of the 5 mins or so that we’ve spent chatting about Harry Potter, or whatever they’d like to talk about. It’s their time, they’ve paid for it and it’s my job to make them feel that they got what they wanted.
I know the original article was in reference to musicians, however, as someone who makes a portion of my income from the world of fandom, it struck a chord. These are two different sets of circumstances, but I think the ultimate point of this article is that it is dependant on the situation in which you find yourself and what exactly people are expecting for their money.
Either way, this is a time where celebrities, performers and artists are massively more accessible. Thanks to social media we often feel like we already KNOW these people personally, and receiving the acknowledgement from said celeb that they appreciate your interest and investment in you can be priceless for some.
There’s also another quick point to raise here I think. These days, musicians, performers and so have to work SO much harder in order to make a decent living. Musicians for instance - streaming music is not profitable until you are on the superstar planes. Record companies, Producers, managers, writers, agents… they all take their cut. Touring is the same, launching a tour costs a fortune, and the venue, the band, the dancers, the lighting and sound hire company, the transport, the hotels, the tour manager, the promoter… they all have to be paid before the profits begin to be shared out. A meet & greet is realistically another way to support the artist in a way that doesn’t have a super high profit margin. We all have bills to pay.
What is my point?
I guess it is that sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not. But don’t get exploited. Make sure that you’re going to your money’s worth from a meet and greet and not just a quick photo and a hand shake.
On the flip side to this, it is worth noting that you want to meet someone who is celebrated for doing something you enjoy. You pay to go to a concert and see the performance, that it what the ticket is for. The ticket does not give you a right to meet the person afterwards. That is their time. You wouldn’t expect to schedule a hair appointment and then expect the hairdresser to provide the service after the salon has shut. They would be within their rights to charge you extra to stay longer. It’s the same thing. If you’re expecting someone to make an effort, then generally speaking there’s an expectation that you would provide something in return. In this case, paying for a VIP experience / Meet & Greet. I guess it comes down to demand. People are willing to pay for it, so providers are willing to provide.
Big Love Mugglefuggers