Last Tuesday night, Justin Bieber announced that he was no longer carrying on with his pre-show “meet and greets” which fans had already paid around nine-hundred to three-thousand dollars for, (depending on the VIP package purchased), leaving them devastated beyond belief. In his Instagram post, Justin stated that his decision was due to so much of other people’s “spiritual energy” causing him to end up so drained and unhappy, that “[he] always [left] feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression” and “the pressure of meeting people’s expectations of what [he’s] supposed to be is so much for [him] to handle and a lot on [his] shoulders”. Due to the health implications, it would be unfair to judge him as being selfish as he could genuinely be in a position where he cannot handle the stress of meeting fans, which no one but him can truly understand. However, the execution of his decision was poor, lazy, and completely disregarded fans in every way. Everything about it genuinely left fans wondering whether or not people in the industry truly understand how important artists are in their lives, because Justin and his team certainly did a good job at either showing that they are oblivious to it, or that they simply do not care.
Whether or not you have experienced truly being a huge fan of someone, you need to understand that fans genuinely invest themselves into their favorite artists, making them willing to go to extremes such as lining up for hours to try and meet them, spending all of their savings on tickets to be closer to them, and dedicating social media accounts to them (basically to the point where people begin to view it as crazy or obsessive). And maybe it is crazy and obsessive, but the people who view it that way don’t understand how happy it makes fans to do what they do, because a lot of the time an artist gives fans hope, confidence, happiness and company which they may not find in their daily lives. Despite the crying fans that Justin meets in person and the daily reminders he receives of the positive changes that he has brought to thousands of peoples’ lives, he cancelled all “meet & greets” and offered no alternative solution for fans to show that he truly cares about them. It is important to remember that these fans saved up for months, possibly even years, for even the possibility of purchasing “meet and greet”, regardless of the low odds that it would even appear as an option on Ticketmaster. Now, combine that with the reality that they were finally meeting Justin after, for most fans, eight years of support, it is a feeling of ultimate happiness and the epitome of a fan experience. However, Justin took that away from them, leaving them with nothing as a compensation, which was uncaring and dismissive. As a fan, nothing can replace meeting an artist, and I do not think that anything should have in this case. If Justin had made the commitment to meet fans, he should have carried though with it in a way which made him feel comfortable and under less pressure. If his decision was truly based on health issues, he could have taken note of the fans, and promised to come back to the cities specifically to meet them when his health was in better condition. He could have also changed the format of the meet in greets, such as meeting fans after the show to avoid him feeling drained before going on stage, or meeting them in a more relaxed and comfortable setting such as Taylor Swift’s meet and greets where all fans were in a room with snacks and she met each individually without having to be rushed. Additionally, he could have offered them sound check, skyped with them, or personally apologized to truly show how sorry he was for cancelling and that he understood how much it meant to them. If anything at all, he could have finished the meet and greets scheduled for this tour, and either chosen to limit them or cancel them for future tours. From all of the disappointed responses from fans on Twitter, they all understand his decision and care about his health, however, they simply wanted an alternative solution to make up for the huge disappointment. Fans want to feel appreciated, and he left them with anything but that.
Another problem with the solution was the lack of communication that followed. After Justin posted his news via Instagram, fans had many questions to be answered, however, none of his team made any effort to offer clarification, despite most of them being active on social media. Fans who purchased the ultimate VIP package have STILL have not received an email with any information, and instead are required to obtain all of their information and updates through fan accounts on Twitter. Finally, in addition to being disregarded by Justin and treated unprofessionally by his crew, it has been confirmed that fans will not receive a partial refund for their VIP package purchased. People are either obligated to receive a full refund and give up their tickets as well, or pay up to $3000 for backstage party with the crew and dancers in order to keep their tickets. The decision alone of compensating for meeting Justin, with meeting his background dancers shows how little effort his crew put into determining compensation for fans, and that they clearly value making an extra buck over Justin’s most dedicated fans.
From the perspective of a fan who truly understands the devastation that fans must feel from this situation, the entire execution of the decision was cheap, inconsiderate, and is representative of everything that is wrong with the music industry. An artist who is worth millions of dollars has successively ripped off the people who helped him create his success, simply to make extra profit from a tour that will already earn millions of dollars. There is no reason at all for any of these issues to have occurred, and the entire situation could have easily been dealt with in a better manor if it had been executed more thoughtfully. It stuns me that Justin knows the impact that he has in the lives of his fans, and yet he chose to cancel their “meet and greets” regardless, without offering anything as a compensation. In the midst of his “comeback”, Justin has now left his biggest fans feeling cheated, deceived, and even scammed, and possibly turning a majority of them against him.
By Casey Aonso