A new set of words have crept into the British Gospel Lexicon. Essentially, what meet and greet means, is that after attending a concert to see an artist, you can pay a premium on top of standard ticket prices to actually meet them after the show.
In the secular arena, this may sound like a dream come true for fans and an opportunity for those on six-figure salaries to boast at the next board meeting.
For some in the British Gospel community, the principle, let alone the practice is not meat to a cash-starved industry, but lethal poison.
The argument is that Paying money to meet someone is nothing more than explicit commercialisation of a faith music and worst, places the artist in question on idol worship status. But is this point of view coming from dinosaurs or traditionalists who see such a venture as detrimental, or is there a fear that the promotional and marketing machine has gone too far?
On page 184 of my book British Black Gospel, I take a glimpse into the future and place these type of approaches under the ‘innovative’ marketing category.
Take a look at professional sport and the mainstream music industry and it is clearly evident that rampant commercial strategies have ripped the heart and soul out of these environments. They exist to make a profit and if your product doesn’t sell or produce good results, its bye bye.
There are those who will argue that market forces, a need to survive and supply and demand are the drivers for new meet and greet initiatives in U.K. Gospel.
I take a view from an obtuse angle and am neither for or against promoters who see the need to incorporate meet and greet into the package. The fan simply takes or leaves it, but the option is there.
I do think that its application in a faith-sensitive environment like British Gospel, must be applied with caution, tact and transparency.
All proceeds from meet and greet should go to a worthy charitable cause, album project or back to the local community….perhaps.
To not state explicitly why a fan needs to shell out £200 to see an International Gospel talent, would only raise suspicions and resentment. Perhaps the money is going towards a private jet or a new wing of their 7 bedroom mansion.
This feature is not designed to throw meat or poison into the British Gospel community, but its purpose is to raise awareness leading healthy debate. Perhaps the marketing guys are harbingers or frontline foot soldiers in an approaching revolution of British Brexit-style Gospel music.
As for me, I’m more than happy to do a book signing event or talk to the masses in exchange for a free Jamaican Pattie and my taxi fair home. If anyone would like to shell out exorbitant amounts of money to meet the great Steve Alexander Smith they will need to get past a security check first.
Make no mistake though, meet and greet is just one of the many new marketing strategies that will appear on the gospel horizon. Having no said that, I don’t care how they operate gospel in the USA land of the free, but in Britain, our historical legacy demands that it’s not what we choose to do, but the way that we do it.