You can’t please everyone! It has been said, many times. But could I be correct in thinking that some people are getting harder to please? Are expectations so high that satisfaction is impossible to achieve? I speak of a select few, of course, but it has me wondering if some people are a little ‘off-the-mark’ with their expectations.
My latest experience has prompted me to start this discussion and my story takes place at the Deni Ute Muster, of all places! As an artist, Deni is one of the big ones on the festival calendar. You get this gig and you’re happy. You fly in your band, your favourite players, you choose your setlist wisely and you do whatever it is you do to make sure you leave a great impression on both the crowd and the festival organisers – you want to be asked back after all. Work on these big festivals starts well before the actual date and often involves media days to help promote the event. As artists, we work closely with the publicist for the event and we usually get given a list of interviews both prior to the big date, and at the actual festival. We never mind doing this media as, naturally, it’s great publicity for the artist as well. It can be quite the juggle for the publicist, and I don’t often envy her never ending shuffle of artists, managers, producers etc. They’re always waiting to hear back from someone, it must be frustrating at times. There’s another little gem that these fabulous people have to deal with and that is the lucky and (hopefully) grateful competition winner. A wonderful promotional tool, the competition, perhaps on a well-known radio station, often boasts prizes such as weekend passes and arguably the biggest prize of all…. A meet and greet with a real, live artist! This involves a backstage pass (albeit a temporary one), a happy snap with the artist, perhaps and autograph and even a chat before the artist hits the stage, what a prize!
I’m all for the meet and greet, I’ve met some great people in these settings. Quiet often, those who choose me (if a choice is given), are military persons whom I’ve entertained overseas or who just want to tell me they are grateful for my song, ‘Poster Girl,’ this makes me proud and emotional and extremely appreciative. Others love to say g’day because they like my songs, they like a party and they proudly display our photo on social media – I know because they tag me, I see it, I even ‘like’ them! Whatever the reason, like many artists, I give everything I can to that moment, knowing first-hand exactly what that might mean to a true fan.
When I travelled through the USA and saw my beloved Dolly Parton was performing close to where we were visiting family in Massachusetts, I naturally hurried to the website to purchase tickets. Upon checkout, I was offered the ultimate fan experience; a meet and greet with my all-time favourite, for a little extra…OK, a LOT extra but how could I possibly stop myself from adding this to my cart? It must be said that I have met Dolly on two prior occasions (for free) but I thought of the thrill of meeting her face to face again and this time, with my partner, Libby. A memorable moment. A frameable moment…straight to the poolroom! I paid thousands of dollars (I can’t give an exact figure; my now wife may faint if she reads this) and how long did my small fortune buy me with dear Dolly? 45 seconds. And I cherished each 45 and I had enough time for a snap and to tell her that she helped make the world a better place. And I’d pay all that and do it over again. I’ll add that it also gave us front row seats, perfection!
So back to the Deni Ute Muster and the winners of the competition for a meet and greet with Beccy Cole, bless their hearts. Maybe they were the third caller through, maybe they filled out a thingo and got drawn from a hat, I’m not sure. I’m not even sure if they actually wanted to meet me or whether, in fact, they were able to choose an artist. What I do know, however, is that I made sure I met my winners INSIDE my dressing room, not in the common area as was suggested to me. I wanted it to be personal. I also knew that the girls in the band wouldn’t mind if I offered some drinks to the winners. Definitely not a common practice, sharing your precious backstage rider but again, it’s important to me that these people have a special experience. Maybe that’s an ego thing, maybe I want them to go back into the crowd and say to their friends; ‘that Beccy Cole was so lovely, we actually went into her dressing room, her underwear was hanging on the hook, she actually gave us drinks, we felt special….’ Yeah, that didn’t happen.
I must say, I had 4 competition winners, or maybe 2 who had a plus one. The first couple were SO excited to be there, we chatted, I signed stuff, I gave them drinks and yes, I’ve since had a thank you via social media (unexpected and unnecessary, but so lovely). The second couple, a mother and daughter, were also seemingly excited to be there. I remember offering them a drink, commenting that one of them has the same name as my Mum, asking how they’re enjoying the festival, signing a stubby cooler and asking if they’d like a photo. I also congratulated them on winning the competition, good for them. At 11 minutes before showtime, I was given the nod that we were due side stage (actually, that’s a little late, I’m sure the stage manager was getting nervous) so I bid my winners farewell and wished them a happy Muster.
My band was fabulous, the crowd was immense, our feedback was punch-the-air good and humbling at the same time. What a night, what a grand event.
Not so for the mother and daughter. An experience so ‘horrible’ for them that a written complaint was passed on to me, via that extremely hard-working publicist. The complaint read that Beccy Cole ‘couldn’t give a rats,’ that they were ‘let down by the experience’ and that she had ‘lost quite a few fans’ and warned that ‘word travels fast..’ along with the promise that they would be taking it further and posting their upset on the Muster website. There was more, but that’s the general vibe.
So back to my original question, are some people just impossible to please? Should I have offered massage? My phone number? My first born?
What would you expect if you won an opportunity to meet an artist backstage just before their performance?
I’ll be honest, Dolly could have called me names and spat on me and I still would have chalked it up to a highlight of my life. In this instance, I truly believe I did as much as I could, given the time, to give them a lovely experience. A fellow artist even commented that taking them into my dressing room was ‘bloody lovely.’
Anyway, it’s an instant word we live in, where we sit behind keyboards and have opportunities to have our say without thinking things through, maybe not considering the repercussions of such an angry toned note laced with sarcasm.
Here’s the other kicker, we get a choice as to whether we are available for meet and greets. I could have said ‘no’ and they would have either perhaps chosen another artist or stayed out the front. I said yes because I actually do care. I’m not sure if this means I’ll reconsider this choice in the future or offer the aforementioned massage add-on. I know better than to let one spoil it for the rest, but it does make me ponder the world we live in.
Whatever the future holds, may I suggest that we be kind to each other, it costs nothing to be nice.