It’s All About the Money

  A few days ago, Avril Lavigne – pop-rock superstar extraordinaire – held a meet-and-greet event at the end of a concert in Sao Paulo. Photos were taken, in which Lavigne apparently refused to physically touch any of her fans. The results were rather awkward, as can be seen here on the right, and produced a huge outpouring of scorn.

  Now, it has since been pointed out that Lavigne’s decision not to enter into physical contact with her fans was likely a result of an incident which took place the last time she was in Brazil, when a fan assaulted her, and was probably a security decision rather than a personal preference. This, taken alongside the fact that some photos do actually show her in much closer proximity to her adoring fans, means that the entire affair is pretty much a non-issue. 

  Besides, it’s her body – she can do what she damn well likes with it! Would YOU want to hug a bunch of random strangers after they’ve been dancing sweatily in a packed concert hall for hours? I thought not.

  No, Lavigne’s critics are focusing on entirely the wrong thing. Rather than fussing over her apparent reticence in the hugging department, they should be targeting by far the more nefarious element to this little bit of sensationalism – namely, the price tag. Heh. Price tag. D’you see what I did there? Y’know, the title…

  I disgust myself. The point is, this little photo opportunity cost the fans in question 800 Reals apiece – that’s about $360, or £212. This is a staggeringly huge amount of money for what is essentially a snap of an already filthy-rich pop star with a photo of yourself superimposed on top. You can do this kind of thing on Photoshop in ten minutes, for goodness’ sake. It is an exorbitant cost – daylight robbery, in a country where the GDP per capita is about £7,400

  People are clearly willing to pay big money for the chance to be seen with their idols, and that is a fact exploited by the music industry for huge profits. I’m not necessarily making a judgment on Lavigne herself – for all I know, it’s a record company thing and she’s just as disgusted by it as I am – but this particular event serves as a topical case study in a far greater problem; a symptom of a wider disease within the industry. Sadly,  in the twenty-first century making music really does seem to be all about the money.

  This is by no means a new phenomenon – since the late nineteenth century and the development of recorded music, the industry has been out to earn cash. And that’s fine, up to a point – artists and record producers have to live, and the minuscule slice of overall takings from the fruits of their labours which the average recording artist takes home means that CD prices and the like have to be high. I accept that. No problem. Fine.

  I’ll even swallow the mass merchandising campaigns which seem to accompany every new album launch, tour or festival appearance these days. I’m as much of a fan of a band T-shirt as the next evolved ape, and – let’s be honest – there is something about a Green Day foam finger which speaks to the best of us. These things are useful, generally quite well-made and the added price which is a result of their branding is a price worth paying to not have to live life as a walking advert for Topshop, Superdry, Primark or some other dreary corporate machine which is your only real alternative. 

  But is is the extension of this same corporate machine into the realms of simply meeting a singer where I must draw the line. The idea that you can pay money for the privilege of talking to a person for a few minutes, or for grabbing a quick photograph, is just madness. Artists are just people – why do we cough up huge quantities of cash just to have a chat? It’s not just the talentless, capitalist shells also known as pop singers which have fallen into this darkness either – I went to a Bullet for my Valentine concert last December in which you could pay to meet the band. You expect it from the likes of Jessie J, Rihanna, or even Avril Lavigne for that matter – but Bullet for my Valentine? How the mighty have fallen. It’ll be Black Flag and Rise Against next. Mind you, when Johnny Rotten’s advertised Country Life and Iggy Pop’s done car insurance, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised…

  It’s sad, really, in every sense of the word. I have no objection to artists making money from their work, even decent money, but when a record company turns a musician or band into just another corporate money-generating machine, it really does make me wonder what happened to the notion of artistic integrity. I hope all of you have the moral – or, at the very least, financial – sense not to waste your hard-earned cash on this kind of nonsense.

  I’m off to listen to some Anti-Flag to make myself feel better. 


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