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.

The Power House That is John Janick

recordsBehind every favorite band their is an artist, and behind every artist there is a fan.  Fans are what drive the music industry’s success, but without the blood, sweat and tears of the artist the music would never cease to exist.  John Janick, current CEO of Interscope Records, started off as just a fan of music and rose to the business executive he is today.  In 1996, as a young college student at University of Florida in Gainesville, he started his own record label with Vinnie Fiorello (drummer/ lyricist) from the band Less Than Jake.  The clever man that Janick is, he named it after the one food that every college student eats because they are broke, and in his case really broke because he invested every last dime he had into the label.  If you guessed the food was ramen you were right.  The label is called Fueled By Ramen.  In 1998 the company released an EP that broke the success of the label by a little band called Jimmy Eat World from Arizona.  The success didn’t stop there.  In 2003, the label released an album called ‘Take This To Your Grave’ by a Chicago group called Fall Out Boy.  A few years later Janick and Pete Wentz (Bassist) from Fall Out Boy collaborated to start Decaydance Records (rebranded as DCD2 in 2014) which became connected with Fueled By Ramen.  Decaydance Records and Fueled By Ramen success continued by the release of albums by signed artists such as The Academy Is…(2004), Gym Class Heroes (2005), Panic! At the Disco (2005), and The Cab (2008).  After eleven years of success, Janick signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records and moved Fueled By Ramen to New York City where it still lives today (1).  Even though Janick is now CEO at Interscope his legacy lives on at Fueled By Ramen where it all started with a kid’s love of music and a dream.  So don’t give up on your dream.  Continue to fight for what you want, and do everything in your power to build connections and knowledge.

Wanting to be involved in artist development, I am currently reading a lot of books on music business, reading liner notes from albums, and stalking music history of bands online.  I have come to realize that everything is interconnected in the music industry and that almost every band I listened to as a teenager, and in my early 20s was because of this guy.  So, I guess you can say that this post is a thank you letter to the man that is John Janick.  Thank you for caring enough about the music and not the money, thank you for understanding that an artist needs to be involved in all aspects of their identity to have success, and thank you for introducing me to punk inspired rock/ pop that put me ahead of the curve in college.

Click on Spotify Playlist for some of my favorite songs and artists that John Janick had a hand in developing and releasing as Co-Founder at Fueled By Ramen.  As Janick said in an interview for the book It All Begins With the Music, “No Food, No Sleep, Just Music.”

(1) All date information was found at www.FueledByRamen.com