I don’t know who the first artist was to monetize Meet & Greets, nor do I know exactly when it started, but I do know it’s pretty much been normalized now and I do remember the first time I was exposed to it, it was disturbing.
I don’t know any old school artist who feels comfortable charging for Meet & Greets. Meet & Greets used to be for dedicated fans, contest winners who proved their devotion by answering questions only a die-hard could, or card carrying members of the Official Fan Club. More than one of these artists have told me they felt like prostitutes. I totally get that, but it’s the pimps who deserve our ire.
Believe it or not, a lot of artists are low on self-esteem and have crises of consciousness when it comes to the awe that oozes from their devotees. They don’t feel worthy, they feel like frauds, their talent comes naturally so they don’t feel they’ve earned the right to the adulation. That’s a commonality that crosses every genre of the arts, the sensitive artist creates the masterpiece because he/she is sensitive, but that’s also their achilles heel. That is both their strength and their weakness - and that’s hard to live with.
But the monetized Meet & Greet is one of the only opportunities artists have to make money without having to pay commission. Meet & Greets and Per Diems, everything else goes through other people’s pockets first. On tour the Artist is often the last to get paid, so this is important, they still have bills to pay at home. This extra money can be the difference between making their rent/mortgage and sleeping in their car.
Of course I support every tool the artist uses to ensure they’re being compensated for their work. But I really wish it didn’t have to come to this, and I can pretty much guarantee that many of your favourite artists feel the same, except perhaps the ‘new breed’ who don’t know it wasn’t always done this way.
So, while I don’t like the monetized Meet & Greet construct, I understand why it’s a necessary evil, and I fully support the artists, NOT the pimps. I’m sure they’ll find a way to get a piece of the Meet & Greet eventually, just like I’m sure you’ll be paying to watch holograms perform in the very near future….oh wait....