VIP OR RIP-OFF?
From a reader who lives in Australia, I would like to respond to Chris Robert’s Paperlate piece in Prog 91 about the rise and rise of the VIP packages as a fundraising model for artists of all types (prog and otherwise).
I am lucky enough to know a couple of local promoters, who make two points quite clear. Firstly, Australia is an expensive country to tour if you’re an
overseas musician of any genre. Secondly, sales of tickets to prog gigs in Australia are often ‘lacklustre’. It’s hard to guarantee a profit for any artist, and sadly in many cases the economic reality is that touring ‘Down Under’ is certain to make a loss, and therefore isn’t worth bothering with.
Obviously, in the current day, to make money as a musician you need to be a businessman as well as an artist. Selling the sizzle as well as the sausage is an essential tool towards making ends meet. The number of deluxe vinyl box sets and the like currently on the market are a testament to this. The VIP packages we see are clearly a part of this survival strategy. I consider that the VIP packages are a bit like business class seats on the plane: they help to subsidise the cost of the tour and keep the costs down for the economy class ‘passengers’.
The reality currently is that many (probably a majority) of artists visiting Australia offer VIP experiences as a part of their tour. The difference between the prog artists and many of the rest is the level of commitment shown by the artist. Yes, as Chris states, many offer nice seats, VIP merch, pre-show parties and the like, but no actual interaction with the artist. In my experience the prog VIP is a bit different: you get to meet the artist and actually spend some quality time with them.
Yes, I admit I’m one of the lucky ones. When there’s a good gig in town, I’m usually looking for a VIP ticket. I don’t mind paying a premium for a chance to say thank you to somebody who genuinely has gone to the effort to come all the way to Australia and perform live for me here.
I guess that’s the key. Some artists use VIP tickets as an easy way to make extra money for little personal effort for their already profitable tours. Many prog artists use VIP tickets as a way to survive in a harsh economic climate and go out of their way to make the effort to look after their serious fans. Without the extra VIP dollars, they probably wouldn’t be here at all. For that, they deserve my support, and I expect to continue buying VIP tickets into the future.
ABOVE: PAPERLATE IN ISSUE 91 HAS INSPIRED SOME DEBATE…