Matty Healy: Check your privilege at ‘gross’ meet-and-greets (Opinion)4 min read
As TikTok does, the social media platform recently resurrected a month-old interview with frontman Matty Healy from 1975 and treated it with a 30-second sound bite — a snippet of an hour-long conversation with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe — that was sure to spark discussion, not debate. if
For those unfamiliar, 1975 was one of the most innovative, influential and divisive bands of the last decade. They tour arenas all over the world and Matty can’t walk the streets of any major British city without being mobbed by fans. For all intents and purposes, he’s a superstar, even though his band exists somewhat outside the mainstream.
In this wide-ranging interview, Matty hits on his disdain for meet-and-greets, after discussing how he doesn’t want to accept the “ephemeral, ephemeral things” that connect fans and artists at a concert. This is where TikTok clips start.
Matty says, “People reach out for something, which is why I hate paid meet-and-greets: You paid for the album; You paid for the ticket; You paid for parking; You’ve got them in the room and somebody goes, ‘How do we monetize this a little bit?'” Matty elaborates: “If you’re an artist and you’re doing paid meet-and-greets … you’re taking money off the fan. took I challenge you to do it.”
“It’s fucking gross,” Zane interjects.
“It’s absolutely gross,” agreed Matty.
First off, album sales are all but dead; Fans paid Spotify or Apple for music. How much will the band see? Maybe a few bucks. Fans pay Ticketmaster for tickets and the venue or a garage for parking. How much does that trickle down to the artist? Too small.
One of the last remaining ways for artists to monetize — directly and on their own terms — is to enhance the fan experience, whether it’s in the form of VIP meet-and-greets, soundcheck Q&As, fanclub memberships, sponsorships or crowdfunding.
Streaming has proven to be extremely profitable for major record labels and artists given the huge platform through top playlists. But it doesn’t help to work with modest (albeit die-hard) fanbases — like indie artists. Ticket sales are also not enough to sustain a touring band if promoters, venues and ticketing platforms keep most of the sales. Santigold tells as much as 2022 diversity“[Touring] At my level — somewhere in the middle — it’s fucking rough. … I was making some money but not enough to live on.”
VIP packages offer fans a way to financially support the band and receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience in return. It doesn’t have to be gross. Hundreds of indie artists are doing this honestly — enabling them to actually make music for a living.
It’s not 2012 anymore. Bands don’t blow up or get signed because of key radio spins like 1975. Big breaks no longer come through gatekeepers. And major record labels aren’t developing artists or taking a lot of risks — they’re signing sure things: singles that go viral on TikTok.
Being a working musician is tough these days. It takes an incredible amount of grit, know-how, creativity and talent. As a music community we should encourage and lift up our fellow artists. Not punishing them and telling them to try to find a way to make a living when most traditional revenue streams have dried up. Indie artists these days there is per Monetize fandom if they want to survive.
Superstars exist in an alternate universe. There’s a big difference between someone who tours an arena and charges $1,000 for a 30-second photo opp, and an indie artist playing club soundchecks and charging $150 for perks like a gift bag, photo opp or early venue access. For indie artists, it’s literally the difference between a successful and failed tour; Eating and not eating.
So Matty, instead of making black and white statements and punishing musicians who look up to you, why not use your power to change the system? Go after corporations that charge fans extra fees, none of which the artist sees. I challenge you, Matty, to look an indie band in the eye who can barely pay their rent and tell them they don’t deserve to make a living off their art because you set the moral standards of what’s acceptable. That is fucking gross.
Ari Herstand Best-selling author How to make it in the new music business, Webby is an award-winning host New music business CEO and Founder of Podcast, a music business education organization Ari’s take and Los Angeles-based musicians.