Weighing In On the Latest Bieber Controversy…

In case you missed it, Justin Bieber announced this week that he would no longer be offering a meet and greet package on his “Purpose” world tour, effective immediately.  Bad news for fans (and probably more likely, parents) who shelled out anywhere from $900 to $2000 (!!!) for the opportunity to meet the 22 year old performer- these meet and greets are non-refundable.

Due to the fact that the meet and greet passes were purchased in conjunction with the tickets to the show, fans have been told they cannot be given a partial refund.  This means that fans who want their money back for the meet and greet passes will also be forced to forfeit their seats (I believe all of which are located in the pit, front of stage) and will have to look at buying tickets in less desirable areas of the venue if they still want to attend the show; or, they have essentially paid $2000 to see Justin Bieber.  Either way, a loss.

bieberJustin released a statement on Instagram, saying “I enjoy meeting such incredible people but I end up feeling so drained and filled with so much of other people’s energy that I end up so drained and unhappy…I always leave feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression…”  He accompanied the statement with a photo of conceivably one of the last fans to participate in a meet and greet with him.

Now, I’m under no pretense that artists are obligated to meet their fans after their shows.  Your ticket guarantees you a live show and nothing more.  I am fortunate that many of the bands that I listen to will very often make themselves available to fans before or after the show to sign autographs and take photos.  Granted, they are also not on the same level of fame as Justin Bieber (which is a travesty, but I digress), but regardless, they put themselves out there to meet their fans, probably also at the risk of emotional exhaustion.  They do this because I believe they genuinely appreciate their fans.  At 22 years old, Justin Bieber needs a wake up call.  His fans have made him what he is, helped him build his empire, and he is essentially allowing them them to become victims of theft.

Now I’m certainly not saying he’s obligated to do meet and greets, but this could have been handled more appropriately.  I would have suggested that he follow through with the meet and greets for the rest of this tour, and then going forward discontinue them.  Barring that, accommodations should have been made for the partial refunds;  if you are not willing or able to provide a service that has already been paid for, the logical step is to refund that money.  To someone in Justin Bieber’s tax bracket, I’m sure that $2000 is chump change, but for the people who are paying it, that is probably at least a month’s wages, if not more.  I would hope that he would advocate for his fans a bit more and work with his people to ensure that these people are compensated appropriately without losing out on the prime seating- because, for some odd reason these people still want to see him perform.

Given Justin’s ‘colourful’ history (see a full timeline of bad behaviour, including fights with paparazzi and various traffic violations, here), I don’t know how much more bad publicity he can afford before the ‘Beliebers’ finally abandon ship.  Up until now, they’ve been extremely forgiving, but that good will is bound to have an expiration date, and he’d be smart to realize it now.  It’s safe to say that Justin’s PR team will be working overtime to try to fix yet another media disaster, but is it too late to say sorry now?



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