IS IT WORTH YOUR HARD EARNED CASH??
Please note: This is in no way an attack on the groups / artists mentioned below, simply my own experiences and thoughts on VIP upgrades.
It’s no surprise that VIP is a common option these days when it comes to purchasing tickets to see your favourite band or artist, especially those from overseas. I understand why it’s there, we (the fans) all want to be closer to our musical idols and VIP makes the dream a (short lived) reality but is it really worth shelling out the extra cash for??
I have to admit, when SCANDAL’s ‘Yellow’ European Tour was announced, I didn’t even think twice about it. Here’s a band that are one of my favourites and they only make it to Europe every few years or so (that in itself is amazing as there are fans from around the world, still keeping their fingers crossed for their first glimpses of SCANDAL in their own countries.) Yes, the pricing point was a little sting to the initial excitement but being able to say “hi” to my favourite quartet was a chance I couldn’t miss out on!
After purchasing my ticket to see SCANDAL in Paris, the additional bonuses of VIP seemed a little flat. ‘Hi-touch’ is not an uncommon practice at VIP events in Japan, so that was cool to see this listed but the only other perks included early access to the venue and a poster. It would’ve been nice if the poster was signed but sadly this wasn’t the case.
Upon the evening of the concert, I could hear cheers from down the line as SCANDAL arrived into the venue for the VIP event. We gradually made our way down the line, through the venues main doors and there they were, standing behind the merch area all smiling and greeting fans with excitement and appreciation. I managed to remain as calm as possible as I gradually edged closer to the band and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes! I missed out on SCANDAL’s first London appearance and after watching all their videos multiple times on YouTube and replaying their live Blu-Rays on many occasions, here they were, right in front of me. It seemed like we had been waiting a lifetime since we entered the venue and within 10 seconds; I had my bonus poster in one hand and had already passed through the line and ‘hi-touched’ each member so fast it felt like my head was spinning!
As I looked around the venue, other fans looked back and tried to admire their idols from a distance for a little while longer, while other fans were in tears and visibly shaking after their dreams of meeting the band had come true. Although I was on a short lived ‘high’ after meeting the band, my thoughts quickly turned and raised the question “..but was that worth £60??” On one hand, it was a rare opportunity to meet the band in person and say “hi”, even if it was brief and only costed an additional £30 on top of the original face value. On the other hand, the additional ‘bonuses’ would make me question paying the additional fees in future.
Sure, it would’ve been nicer to hang out with the group a bit longer but the logistics such as the demand for the band and time they have for such events are limited, which I appreciate, plus EVERY fan would want this opportunity and it just wouldn’t be feasible (or it could be, but that would mean limited spaces and way less £!). Posters as a ‘bonus’ item can also be an issue. Once it’s in your hands, you’re protecting it like it’s the most fragile item in the world. Good luck getting it home in one piece, not crushed in a mosh pit or in a torn / damaged state! Early access to the venue is a welcome addition for hardcore fans that want that prime position at the front of the barrier – just don’t drink too much before you enter the venue!
On one occasion a few years ago, I was asked to take photos of a VIP event in London, capturing the fans excitement meeting the band and after being there a short while, my heart really went out to the fans that were treated so badly – and even worse, paid a huge sum of money for the ‘experience’! First off, the road manager was trying to get each fan down the line as fast as possible, they barely had time to say “hi”. I could maybe understand this if there were 300+ fans waiting outside but this particular event was fairly small, possibly 50 or so fans had paid for VIP and they still had plenty of time before doors were due to open to the public. Many of the female fans had brought personalised gifts for each member and barely had time to pass them over before hearing the repetitive call of “move along please!” every few minutes. One young girl came with her Dad, as it was her Birthday the Dad asked if one particular member would provide his autograph but the road manager quickly stepped in stating “no autographs!!”, leaving an awkward moment between the band, the young girl and an unimpressed Father. If this was to be the case, surely someone could’ve informed the fans before starting the VIP, reminding fans of the do’s and don’ts?
It’s a shame that the only stories we tend to hear are when VIP events have gone wrong, have been badly managed or feel like a last minute shambles. Especially when it comes to social media, where bad news spreads like wildfire! It wouldn’t be fair or right to say this relates to all VIP events, I’m sure there have been many successful and very happy VIP events / fans but sadly their happier stories are drowned out by the failed ones.
Looking at upcoming events, BAND-MAID have included a VIP option with their London show in November. Ok, so you get early access to the venue (again, perfect for those who want to be down the front) and early access to the merch booth (I’m assuming this would be a gamble if you’re going alone, lose your spot at the barrier or wait until after the show and hope they still have your size available!) The main ‘bonus’ item is where it hurts! You’ll be one of 15-20 people in a group photo. Now, if you’re in a big group of friends, that would be sweet but otherwise it’s going to be 15-20 random people that I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want in a photo with your favourite band. Yes, it’s a quick way to ensure everyone gets a photo but most likely not the ‘bonus’ you were hoping for! I’d take a ‘hi-touch’ over that anyday!
I think the reality with VIP is that you have to weigh up all the options; is it worth the cost? Can you justify the additional spend? Are the ‘bonus’ items actually worth it? Nobody is forcing you to sign up for VIP and with bands making less money from album sales, other avenues need to be channelled in order to make up for the lack of income. For some, the VIP experience might be a ‘one time’ deal, for others, it could be a regular occurrence. Let’s hope over the coming months and years to come, we hear more success stories via social media and the fans are receiving a just and valid experience for the (sometimes) hefty mark up they’re paying for!