I have never participated in a “meet and greet”. Over the weekend, Amanda posed the question of why meet and greets would be beneficial to the band – and she received answers, mostly ranging from how wonderful of an experience it was for the fan participants to suggestions that the band would miss out on hearing how much their music has affected others. I had difficulty answering the question myself, because I really don’t know what a meet and greet is really like as a fan, much less what it might do for the band.
What I can say as an interested bystander is this: the quality of the experience is entirely dependent upon the situation. I’ve heard of the dank, dark, super fast “hi and a quick photo” hallway meets…I’m not even sure we properly add the word “greet” in there. I’ve read of the times where only a couple of the band members could make to the meet and greet in the hallway, and truth be told: I have difficulty seeing how any of that could possibly be beneficial to anyone, least of all the band.
In all fairness to the band, when you are forced to come out of hiding night after night, put on a smile in the most unnatural of situations, say hello and then (on many occasions) be felt-up by overenthusiastic fans that have forgotten their manners while having their 30 seconds in front of the band they’ve loved since their teen years – I can’t say that would be beneficial. In my opinion, it’d have the opposite effect. I’d want barriers put up around fans, and while I’d love for them to buy my album and come to my show – I’d also like them to be kept a good 25 feet from me at all times.
On the other hand, when you finally win that chance at a meet and greet, and you sit at home thinking about all of the things you want to say after all of these years – when the time finally comes for you to be in front of any one of them, much less all five of them, and you’re led down a dimly like back hallway and told, “We don’t have time for anything but a photo and it has to be a group one, please don’t try to talk to the band – they don’t have time”, that’s hardly worth the effort to buy the damn tickets to begin with, and those same fans have absolutely no trouble going online and sharing that delightful episode with everyone who’ll read/listen/reply. I can’t really blame them, either.
I have had real trouble underlining benefits to the band myself – because when I consider what the meet and greets have consisted of in the past, I see almost no benefit. From the lack of response we received (truly – for all of the people who have ever done an M&G, very VERY few were able or willing to say much about it), I suspect similar feelings hold true for others. However, if I were to pose the same question to those who attended the VIP party prior to the MoMA screening – I would bet that more than a few could give solid reasons why those types of events work – and not just work for fans, but for the band as well.
Perhaps that alone is food for thought.