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What's With the VIP Hysteria?

Is it me, or does every band, every concert, every festival offer some VIP package these days? If hundreds (thousands?) buy into the privilege... is it really still a privilege?

I think the entire current trend of VIP hysteria is a load of crap. I saw Uriah Heep Friday night for $5 and guess what? The band was selling a VIP package for $100! That got you a seat on stage and a shirt. Our friend and BBG! writer Brian mentioned to me the other day that Cinderella is offering VIP packages on their summer tour. He said something about $700 but I can't believe they would charge that much. I mean, could they? Who is going to pay $700 for a meet and greet? Or just for the chance to "be up close." Insane.

Then there are those VIP packages that expressly say you will not get to meet the band but you get a close seat... and get early entry to the merchandise tent. Great. A more private chance to spend more money. Bon Jovi does this. I'm sure other really big bands do, too. I know Britney Spears did some VIP packages on our Circus tour that featured front row "couch" seats for a grand a pop or something. You got to tour backstage -- you did not get to meet Ms. Spears.

Then there's Motley Crue. On past tours, they charged hundreds to sit in the first 10 rows and to "meet the band" which was basically a cattle call with a photo.

I've had VIP wrist bands at Rocklahoma and Rock the Bayou. I bought those for the air conditioning. I never care so much about where I'm sitting at a show, especially a festival but I can't take the heat very well, so I plunked down the cash for VIP. This was okay at Rocklahoma but I got ripped off at Rock the Bayou. That festival was in Houston at the end of August and the air conditioning basically broke on the first day. It was miserable and I was out a ton of cash. Sure I was up close, but it didn't matter. There were so few people at that fest, it wasn't hard to get to the barrier whenever I wanted.

Maybe I come at it from a different point of view. I know I'm lucky because I get many media passes to shows and festivals and I can freely talk to bands if I so choose. You will never find me just randomly hanging out backstage -- if I'm around a musician, it is because I am working. I understand I have some certain opportunities others may not, but still. I just can't fathom spending $1,000 to meet... anyone.

Brian disagrees with me. He thinks that VIP is worthwhile in instances where you get certain perks, namely close seats. He had front row at M3 last year and had a ball. I still say it's all a cash grab and it's painful for me to say that. I'm an unabashed capitalist -- but I still just don't think it's "VIP" if just anyone with a credit card can get front row or backstage or whatever. It used to be you didn't have to mortgage your home to meet your favorite bands. You went to shows, you hung around near the buses, and you met your heroes. End of story.

So go ahead. Bash away. I'm sure I'm in the minority opinion here.

Reader Comments (18)

I actually completely 100% agree with everything you said in this article.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
100% Dead on, Balls accurate. (It's an industry term.)

This is nothing more than a desperate cash grab started by nostalgia acts as a way to boost their retirement fund. (I'm looking directly at you, GENE $IMMON$.)

Back in the day, the face value of a concert ticket was $10 to $20 , and after the show, anyone with the dedication could go wait by the tour bus & an honest act would realize that the true fans, an act's very bread & butter, were the hardcore that stood by the bus & waited for an autograph & a handshake & maybe 2 minutes of their time. Smart musicians would take the time & cater to these anonymous friends & take a moment to say "thank you for caring".

The greedy ones figured out how to capitalize on this & rape their fans, by holding back the good tickets, & then directly selling them to the ticket brokers for big bucks (Not very cool, Mr. Van Halen!)

Not until "Mr. Squeeze Blood from a turnip $immons"figured out the current "Meet & Greet for big $$$ scam" did musicians find the easiest way to fleece the most loyal.

I find it all very distasteful. I've met pretty much everyone I've ever wanted over the years, and shared one-on-one time with them, and not once have I paid for the privilege! Among the most gracious artists I've hung with, David Coverdale, who has to be one of the sweetest, most genuine & intellectual gentlemen you'd ever want to meet, and Brian May, who also was an intelligent & engaging man. The late Eric Carr also fit in this category.

The absolute worst? Peter Criss. Hands down!
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
I completely agree, never have and never will pay the ridiculous VIP prices. Its bad enough having to pay 75 bucks to sit in the lower bowl at an arena and its ridiculous that any club/theater show would cost more than 25 bucks.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWill
I can't completely blame the artists, tho, granted, $immons needs it like a hole in the head.

Someone like Cinderella and most others? Can't say I blame 'em at all. What with even the most faithful of new fans or rekindled fans now just downloading their music for free AND the ever increasing expense of touring, these bands have to get resourceful to find ways to make a decent buck.

As for the fans who bite the VIP Bullet...

Much of these bands' fan base has matured and become quite successful in their own right. Chicks who were once GEN Admission secretaries in corporations are now VIP VPs and more than happy to pay for the privilege. They don't have to vie for good seats and run the risk of not getting them and they can get their thrills of meeting their schoolgirl crushes like Jon Anchovy, etc.

Not too long ago, I believe, The New York Times and/or The Wall Street Journal did a piece on the phenomenon.

As for idiots like me who are broke one minute and blowing their chump change the next, sometimes I either don't have the bread or miss out on the good seats when tickets go on sale.

The summer before last, I couldn't get it together until the last minute for M3 but knew I just had to see Scorpions, who headlining and retiring, and Cinderella because I had heard about the newly rehabilitated voice of Tom Keifer being in top form.

I had never seen these bands before and realized this was my best chance to Rock at that moment. Days before the show, I went to the brokers and scored 3rd and 4th Row seats and it was worth every exorbitant penny, lemme tell ya. I saw Jetboy for the first time and was lucky enough to see 'em with Mickey Finn still fronting 'em. I got to see L.A. Guns and Phil complimented me on my singing! Between bands, I was actually hangin' with the band at the VIP Deck, havin' drinks with 'em and talkin' about an old Deep Purple promo with Kenny Kweens or whatever the he'll his name is, and watched Phil had to help Phil out of the middle of a cat fight, hahaha!!! Then I got to see comedy acts, Wingjob and Vince Neil.

And, last but not least, Kix, Cinderella and Scorpions, boom, boom, boom!

And all of this happened point blank. Keifer even thanked me and blew me a kiss at the end for being such a rabid screamer during Cinderella's performance. Over the years, I, too, have had the privilege of getting VIP or on a very few occasions, Backstage Passes (G'n'R at The Ritz NYC, '92), but if I'm in a pinch and it's a show I really wanna see, I'll plunk down the bux for VIP every time!

If I'm gonna bother goin', I'm goin' POINT BLANK, come he'll or high water!
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I feel very strongly about this too.

I refuse to pay that kind of cash when in the past, it was so easy scoring back stage passes (while still being a totally good girl) and hanging out with some of the guys after the show.

I think it is a total rip off, especially the meet and greets. If I got to hang out a couple of hours after the show and have some drinks than that would be ok. But to get a "hi" and a picture is so not worth it. Maybe for 10 bucks but that's it.

And not to brag, but luckily for me, cash isn't an issue. I could spend a ton on this kind of thing if I wanted to but I refuse. I think its pethetic to charge those prices to meet your fans. Some of these bands should be ashamed of themselves!
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRita
The only festival/concert I would pay for VIP is M3 and that's because you get to meet all of the bands for one set price plus get great seats! Kiss is charging $800 right now for VIP and that doesn't even include a ticket. No Thank You!
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterricksav65
I think all have good strong points. Metalboy! said something that hit home. Back in the 80's I was working part time at a record store outside Boston,while going to college. I had very little money but got to see my fav bands when ticket prices at clubs or venues were affordable. Now, I have been teaching college art for 16 years and do very well,so I can afford to spend these insane prices just to 'meet' a band for a two minute rush job..would I?..NO!,,I still have the value of a poor 80's guy,so 800.00 to meet KISS (who I met in the 80's) is a RIP me at least. If someone wants to spend that much to meet a band,,so to each his own. ALSO something no one mentioned is about the money people make off Ebay now. Back in the day KISS would sign a LP for free at a meet n greet or at a venue..most bands got wise to the idea that it wasnt the true FAN getting the autograph,but a collector going home to put that LP on Ebay to make,sometimes alot of money off that artist.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjimbo
ACE STEELE - Have to ask. What's up with the Peter Criss comment? Was he just a jerk?

Every Rock Star I've ever met has always been pretty nice. But David Lee Roth did tell a friend of mine to F*** Off! I'm sure he wouldn't have said that if my friend was an attractive girl (he was a guy).
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRita
I know I'm in the minority here, but I have no problem with this whatsoever. It's just another way for bands to make $ and if there are people who want to pay $700 for front row tickets to a Cinderella show (I'm not one of them, by the way), more power to them.

You can talk about greed and selling out and a whole bunch of things, but the fact is that it's a business, and so the bands & promoters (mostly the promoters, I would guess) are in it to make money. It's really just an example of Capitalism 101. People vote with their wallets, and as long as there is demand, VIP packages will continue.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
It is your choice to drop the money. Will I pay that big money for kiss motley poison? No. Will I at a festival? Yes especially when it includes food beer and a great seat. I loved ROK VIP didnt care for M3 and RTB was a travesty in Houston. I plan to pay it at S Texas this year.

Nice guys: Eric Carr, Chad Stewart, Tracii Guns immediately come to mind

Not so nice to me: hate to pile on but marq torrien and Peter cross thanked us for the beer we bought him around 1990 but refused to sign an autograph for a guy in a non-makeup kiss shirt

This is my personal experiences
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSmknotsmf
Although I would never pay a dime for a VIP package, I do agree with Bryon's assessment of the situation. If people weren't willing to shell out the bucks for these things, they would cease to exist.

Ally, since the subject of ticket brokers has been mentioned a couple times in the comments, I think it would be interesting to open up a discussion about them because it ties into what people are willing to spend. In my opinion, ticket brokers are nothing more than scalpers. If I buy a ticket for $30, then try to sell it to someone for $50 outside the venue, i can be arrested, but ticket brokers can gobble up a crapload of tickets, then sell them at way more inflated prices and, for reasons I don't understand, they are considered legitimate businesses.

when I used to go to tons of concerts in the 70s and 80s, ticketMaster was not the only game in town, so there was no single monopoly to jack up ticket prices and tack on service charge after service charge. I mention this because, i think the TicketMaster monopoly, coupled with the rampant growth of legal scalpers known as ticket brokers, has created a situation wherein people feel they have no choice, but to spene inordinant amounts of money to get the full concert experience. It's a sad state of affairs, and one which I refuse to support financially.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
I have been to hundreds of concerts, and never paid more than the regular ticket prices, and never would. I really don't care about being front row, or meeting the band in a canned situation though. If it happens cool, but I won't pay for it.

I bought the CD, ticket and a shirt, if that's not enough for them they're not worth meeting to me; a lot of bands do hang before/after they play and don't charge extra (granted they are usually playing the clubs), those are the people that are actually cool to hang out w/ for a few minutes.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack
I don;t care if they offer these packages. I would not pay for them but if someone does and they think it is worth paying that much to musician X, then so be it. Now 7 bills to meet Cinderella is a bit much in my opinion but it the band thinks that is what their free time is worth then so be it. Some see upset that KISS charges $800. think about it for a second, if they only charged $100 then they would be flooded with people backstage.That is not fair for the people that pay, it turns into the cattle call that Al mentioned at first.
I pay my $$ to hear a band play live. If I get to meet them then that is a perk. If I want to insure that I meet them then I do not see anything wrong with someone making some $$ off it.
Thanks for reminding me about the Rock On The Bayou disaster. Poor lineup and the ruts in the field were deadly. Plus I remember in the advertising that they said there would be A/C tents. They failed to mention that you would have to pay for them. Did get to see Vain, so I was happy.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterscott whitt
Here's the thing. If a show is GA, then the people who wait all day, are in front. I've done this many times. Otherwise, the people who get the first 10 rows are typically scalpers, who then onsell them at huge markup. I hate Gene Simmons, but I'd rather he gets the money than some random guy who has contacts with the ticketing company, and likes to rip off fans. At least the Ozzy VIP got me some food, a special shirt, etc, for the extra I paid.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Just a quick comment in response to Scott's post - "Some see upset that KISS charges $800. think about it for a second, if they only charged $100 then they would be flooded with people backstage.That is not fair for the people that pay, it turns into the cattle call that Al mentioned at first."

All a band would have to do to prevent this "cattle call" would be to limit the amount of VIPs sold so that it would give each person who does pay more than just a brief second for their money. Hey, I'm with you... If some fans are dumb enough to pay $800 to get a quick picture with the band that goes by the name KISS than so be it. Met Gene and Paul years ago at Scandal's in Ocean City, MD. when Slaughter was playing the club. I got that same seconds worth of time for nothing (and believe me when I say second). Never seen two guys less enthused about meeting fans and signing autographs. It would be different if they cared about the fans but everyone knows they don't... and never have.

With VIPs you have a lot of people who aren't even real fans of the bands in the front rows. Many of these VIP packages go to businesses who give them to clients. I've worked for a company that constantly was giving away VIP packages. I used many of them myself and saw bands who I would never consider buying top dollar tickets for.

In many cases these VIPs of today are just a way to make people feel better about themselves. It's almost like a status symbol to wear a VIP pass.
June 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterROCK-IT

I could care less about meeting the band. What I like is seeing a band point blank and if that means havin' to pay out the wazoo, so be it.

Look, some of the boyz here have it right. There's a total racket going on between Ticketmaster and the brokers (read "scalpers"). They totally score the first 10 rows virtually every show. Doncha just know payoffs abound to all involved, even the bands, I bet.

But what am I gonna do? Until the fans file a class action suit against Ticketmaster and take it to the Supreme Court, we got bupkiss and I still gotta see the bands point blank. If that means havin' to use the brokers, what the hell. I know it sucks but what's the immediate solution, otherwise? Go to the nosebleeds? Why bother?
June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hi metalboy. for me, the immediate solution is to vote with my wallet by not contributing a dime to the corrupt ticket practices that abound today. sure, that means that I don't see those bands, but hell, most of the bands who are pulling this crap I saw 25 years ago anyway when they were much more worth seeing.

You're right, a class action lawsuit would be the way to go, but sadly the general consumer would rather bend over and allow themselves to be screwed than take on the system.
June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob
You are so right, Bob! This country is made up of a bunch of sheeple!

p.s. I'll still fork it for point blank seats, though not very often.
June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!

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