Do Concert Fans Enjoy Being Manipulated?

Do I dare to even ask such a complex question? Absolutely. It’s an important question to ask as we head into a weekend full of live music adventures.  And it’s also a question I’ve wondered about for awhile. And now is the perfect time to explore it.

The minute I finished reading Seth Godin’s post about marketing and manipulation, I instantly thought of the relationship between concert fans and concert promoters.

What got me thinking was Godin’s definition of manipulation: “…working to spread an idea or generate an action that is not in a person’s long-term best interest.”

Godin’s definition intrigued me because it’s pregnant with all sorts of truths and controversial debatables.

But what really got me thinking about concert fan manipulation was Godin’s list of various actions that describe various people being manipulated.

And his list really hits home when you look at it in the context of the relationship between concert fans and concert promoters.

And since Godin’s list doesn’t call out any actions specifically related to the relationship between concert fans and promoters, I thought we’d add our own actions and riff a bit on his manipulative thoughts from a live concert culture perspective.

It Makes Perfect Sense

When you think of the recent Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger you could easily see how fans could be (or are being) manipulated. But so far, fans seem to be okay with being manipulated. And that bothers me.

At first, I’m confused when I see fans act passively when it comes to taking action in the relationship between them and concert promoters like Live Nation. But then, when you think about it, the passivity of concert fans makes complete sense.

Why would fans want to give up the chance to see their favorite artists live in concert? It’s simple. Right now, for fans, the pleasure of going to a concert is greater than the pain of knowing you’ve been (or are being) manipulated.

That said, it’s no surprise that touring is saving the music industry these days, and that promoters like Live Nation understand the power they have over fans.

And when you look at the overall fan response, fans really haven’t given Live Nation any major reason to blink an eye or second guess their actions.

So, if the fans are ready and willing to be manipulated, why shouldn’t concert promoters make the most of their opportunity to manipulate?

Are Concert Fans Prone To Being Manipulated?

From a psychological perspective, people who are in emotionally abusive or emotionally extorting relationships can be more prone to being manipulated because they’ve been conditioned to think that being manipulated is healthy, normal and even sometimes pleasurable.

What Makes Concert Fans Easily Manipulated?

And since the concert experience is such an emotionally fueled experience, it makes sense that concert fans might be more likely to be manipulated.

Most concert fans would agree that our love for live music begins with a desire to escape emotionally, mentally or physically from the struggles we face in life.

And most concert fans would also agree that our desire to escape is reinforce by the engulfing and transcendent emotional rush of the concert experience as it brings a deep satisfying feeling to all our senses.

Combine that with the strong emotional connection and the high expectations of experiencing the music of our favorite band’s music live in concert, and being manipulated sounds like a completely expected,normal and almost logical occurrence for fans.  It’s almost as if we willingly set ourselves up to be manipulated without even knowing it.

Does Passivity = Pleasure?

So, if concert fans gladly hand over the power of manipulation to concert promoters and their favorite bands, then what does that tell us about the power of pleasure fans experience in the glory of the live concert experience?

Is there a connection between the amount of pleasure fans experience at concerts and the degree to which fans can be manipulated?  Quick answer: Yes.

Let’s Make One Thing Very Clear

I’m not trying to make concert promoters look evil, or make concert fans feel bad because one might be manipulating the other. I would never want to that. Ever.

I do, however, want to encourage promoters and concert fans alike to the rethink their relationship and reconsider it in the context of manipulation. It might seem strange, but doing so has benefits for both fans and promoters.

Yes, there are many concert promoters who love, respect and honor the commitment of concert fans. And, yes, there are legions of fans who take a stand against concert promoters who are abusing their power.

But on the flip-side we all know there are concert promoters who don’t care about fans.

And we know that the majority of concert fans too quickly hand over their cash because they feel like they have no other options if they want to see their favorite band.

Like I said at the start, this manipulation topic is super complex.

But all complexity of the topic considered, I do hope concert fans take the time to stop and think about the relationship we have with concert promoters and our favorite bands.

Yes, of course, we should go to shows to support our favorite independent and mainstream bands.

And, yes, we should exercise our right as concert fans to escape and enjoy every concert we go to.

But we should also use our minds — and not just our hearts — to navigate, celebrate and contemplate the significance of our live concert experiences.  If we only rely on our hearts to guide us, than we will be more prone to being manipulated.

Floor Is Now Yours

Yes, I’m completely aware of concert culture’s long dark history of manipulative characters and seedy actions that can also factor into our manipulation discussion. But we’re not going to get into that stuff on this post.

I’d like to keep the focus on what you’re thinking about right now.

What parts of the concert experience are the most manipulative?

Are there parts of the concertgoing experience that aren’t manipulative?

Am I completely off my rocker on this one?

Tell me what you think in the comments below.

All photos by Colleen Catania

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