VIP Packages – Are They Really Worth It?

VIP-ticketWhen I was a kid, I would have died if my parents got me VIP tickets to a concert.  Then again, how many of your are embarrassed of what your first concert was as a kid?  Not me, I got to see the Piano Man (Billy Joel) and Sir Elton John.  I can say my first concert was far from embarrassing and we had killer seats on the floor.  Anyway, I’m not talking about concert tickets, I am talking about those little add on VIP packages that are outrageously expensive and personally every time I have purchased one I have been disappointed.  At a VIP package event, the managers herd you like cattle to get in line and get a picture taken, sometimes there are weird rules like you can’t put your arms around the perform for the picture so basically you all look like stiff dolls posing for a promotional toy commercial, they play one acoustic song for the group, and then you get a t-shirt, a laminated ticket, and possibly some other merchandise.  If I wanted merchandise I would just buy it and not spend $200 on a VIP Package.

So are there any benefits to the VIP package?  Only if the people who bought the VIP tickets are insanely entertaining.  First you have the older ladies that think they are still 20 but they are really 40 and have kids.  These ladies are usually plastered before the acoustic song is even played and they usually don’t follow the rules that are enforced by the manager.  The road manager doesn’t even fight it he just allows them to do what they want because how can you really fight with a drunk person?  Second you have those moms that bought their daughter(s) the VIP tickets as a birthday present, but they have no idea what type of music the group plays.  Then when that really inappropriate song comes on their face usually says everything you have been thinking.

With physical and digital album sales plummeting, 360 contract deals becoming the norm in the business, and streaming becoming the more popular way to experience music, artists are starting to have to become more inventive with how they are connecting with their fans.  In my opinion VIP events are the perfect way to do that, but they aren’t utilized properly.  Of course social media is a great way to keep your fans interested in lull time while the artist is recording a new album or prepping for a large national or international tour, but VIP events are a way to connect to your fans on a more personal level.

When Taylor Swift did listening parties for 1989 for her fans and invited her fans to be apart of her “Shake It Off” music video, it showed that her business team and her as an artist were thinking outside to create personal connections with fans as well as make recording breaking sales for 2014.  Robert Schwartzman just did the California Roll Tour where his venue was a giant party bus and gave fans an intimate solo acoustic show to no more then thirty people in cities all over the country.  What a way to hear his new album, as well as have the opportunity to be able to talk with him about his artistry, music, and inspiration!  The Cab is notorious for connecting with their fans and every VIP event that is held.  They take individual pictures and go around talking to every fan answering questions about their music writing process, some of their favorite memories on tours, and what it has been like touring with their current co-headliners and support artist(s).  Recently they had a random viewing of “Space Jam” at a venue out in the Los Angeles where they invited fans via twitter to come.  To all the music executives and artists out there – think outside the box.  Don’t just connect through the virtual world.  Obviously the more popular the band or the artists is the harder it is to be safe and connect with the fans so do it in a small setting.  Use the VIP packages to not just give away merchandise because as a fan myself the stuff doesn’t matter.  Human connection is what everyone craves in this world.

Sales, Spotify, and Support – It’s All About the Music

To all the adults that grew up in the 90s – Remember your 12-year-old self when you sat next to your tape deck/ CD stereo, listening to the radio for hours trying to get the new Blink 182 or Backstreet Boys song recorded onto a blank tape, because your parents refused to buy you the new album?  Well kids, those days are long gone.

We can’t deny that gaining access to music has change since the technology age.  Search almost any artist and/ or song on YouTube and thousands of videos will come up with that particular title.  Over the last seven years society has been introduced to the access of free music from organizations such as Spotify (2008).  Spotify allows you to stream full albums, artists catalogs, and create playlists at no cost with advertisements thrown in between the music played.  There is also a Premium level on Spotify that allows the listener to have access to music without a wi-fi network as well as have a commercial free experience.  I am against any paid streaming services whether it is Spotify or Beats Music.  Maybe my mind will change as the services change with improvements and upgrades, but currently I look at as renting an apartment or leasing a car.  You don’t own the music, but you are paying to borrow it, which is crazy to me considering you could use that $10/month to buy an album.  The non-subscription Spotify is my go to streaming site when I can’t afford to buy a new album, want to hear the new billboard top 200 list for the week, or if a friend gives me a new band to hear.  Spotify brings music to the people who can’t afford it or are interested in finding new artists to follow.  It has brought accessibility to music from all over the world.  No matter what level an artist is at in their career or if the artist is in the United States or Australia, they can reach fans in every country.

Spotify has made music more accessible than ever before, but streaming in general has continued to decrease sales due to the fact that people have access to albums for free.  It’s like the old saying goes, “Why buy the cow, if you are going to give away the milk for free?”  Taylor Swift removed her catalog from Spotify and said in a Yahoo Interview, “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music.  And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”  In my opinion, superstars such as Taylor Swift are not just artists, but brands and business entities.  Not only has her current album ‘1989’ sold over 1.2 million copies, she is the only artist to go Platinum in 2014, and she has 48.1 million twitter followers, but she has endorsement deals with companies such as Diet Coke and Target.  She has the power to call the shots and chose where she wants her music to be accessible.  Swift is a force to be reckoned with and I respect her as not only a strong woman, but as a person fighting for what she feels artists deserve and that is to pay for the creation of music.  Other artists like David Grohl (Foo Fighters) look at streaming platforms as a way to get more people to hear their music.  In a Rolling Stones Magazine interview he said, “I want people to hear our music. I don’t care if you pay $1 or fucking $20 for it; just listen to the fucking song.”

Over the last year I have come across some pretty epic bands listening to Spotify that I don’t think I would have even considered listing to before, such as Emily’s Army (now Swimmers), State Champs, Sleeping At Last, and The Griswolds.  After I listened to these amazing artists I not only bought their latest albums, but three out of the four I have either seen in concert in the last year or I will be in the next six months.  Those of you looking to find a side without experiencing both for yourself – don’t!  Spotify has helped me find new music, but has helped these artists gain a new fan as well as increased their album and tour sales.

This post is not in support for Spotify or buying albums, but a statement that both are great.  Streaming has taken the music industry to a new level, and with technology advancing, streaming will become the norm – so why not embrace it.  Spotify has given musicians another tool to reach new fans; and the more followers an artist can create, the more ticket sales, merchandise sales, and album sales will ensue.  How listeners gain access to music is changing and it is up to the artists and the record labels to create new ways to attract listeners to buy albums.  In Taylor Swift’s case, her team were geniuses with the ‘1989’ release.  The team created heavy marketing around the release with a Yahoo streaming event, 1989 private invite parties with Taylor Swift all over the United States and in the United Kingdom, a promotional tour, and finally a sweepstake to help increase sales for the first week by allowing every buyer of the album digital or physical the ability to enter a chance to win tickets and backstage passes to meet Swift at a future concert (the catch was this was only offered during the first week of the release).  David Grohl’s new album ‘Sonic Highways’ also had an eight episode HBO mini-series that connected with the album.  The series started about four weeks before the album was being release, which I bet was no concidence.  In music business, and sales in general, it is all about how the artists uses the tools they have to increase word of mouth and reach their fans on a new level that continues to surprise them as well as take the leap to financially support the artists the fans love.  So, continue to take those leaps and support an artist any way you can through twitting, Facebook comments, street teams, buying albums, and going shows, because without the fans an artist wouldn’t have the ability to do what they love.