I want to demystify the myth of the backstage pass experience. Obtaining a backstage pass on your own used to require knowing how to distinguish the local stagehands vs. the permanent crew stagehands, the ones hired by the band. This was done by distinguish the crew cloth passes vs. the laminated passes which only the permanent crew or band hired-crew wear and asking the laminted guys for the pass.
Before things got greedy, you could actually walk up to a stagehand with a laminted pass ( and still in some cases you can) and if you seem "cool enough" you could get an after show cloth pass, which really meant nothing except thinking you where the shit, because once the show was over the band usually left right after encore and in most cases were not even there to greet anyone. Typically most of the "Meet and Greets" were and are still done today before the show starts.
Somewhere along the way Live Nation and other promoters found a way to capitalize on the "backstage pass" and charge people upwards of $2500 and in some cases $5,000 per ticket to get "the backstage experience” and never meeting the band at all. I'm sorry but paying to go backstage for any band really takes away from the "experience" in the first place.
Haven been backstage to many concerts, because I either worked them, or I had the occasional drum stick tapped on my ass with a pass, I can tell you nothing goes on backstage that is worth paying for. You're not going to get 5 feet near or into private dressing rooms unless you have a direct or "all access" to the group i.e.: wife, girlfriend, personal friend or family memeber or Live Nation finds a way to get people to pay some ridiculous amount for the experience.
It seems we live in a world where people will pay any amount of money just to be able to post it to Twitter and Facebook, but before you shell out $2500 to "meet a band" you need to look at the fine print before handing Live Nation a month's paycheck to do so.
Below I have listed some examples from Live Nation/Ticketmaster and what they translate to.
Individual On-Stage Pre-show Photo Opportunity (Includes Actual Show, Lighting & Production Elements) - Translation: A lighting guy is going to turn on some lights during pre-show as you are being escorted across the stage. You, more than likely will be able to take a selfie by the drum riser, and if you ask nice to the V.I.P. host, use the word "bucket list" they may let you sit behind the drum kit.
Special “Behind the Scenes” Escorted VIP Backstage Tour - Translation: You will never meet the band, what you will see is the kraft services table set-up, a bunch of girls, guys and managers running around looking busy or eating.
A Commemorative VIP Laminate & Matching Lanyard - Translation: It's a souvenir, your not going backstage to meet the band with that pass on, makes a great Twitter and Facebook photo op so you're friends "think" you went backstage, but that is all.
Access to the soundcheck experience - Translation: Now you're talking you are going to actually see the band, but it will be a limited experience, maybe a few hundred people in attendance along with the road crew and the band may say hello to you from the stage, but you will NOT be going backstage.
Access to the exclusive VIP pre-show reception with open bar (beer & wine) - Translation: There will be a buffet line and bar set-up either right outside or inside the venue, but 99.9% will be located somewhere in a tented area outside or inside your local arenas catering room but you are not going backstage.
Go behind the scenes and ASK ANYTHING at the very intimate VIP Q&A session with ... in his/her dressing room! (small cameras allowed) - Translation: You will meet "someone" from the band and be able to get a one-off selfie with your cell phone along with about twenty others, but you are going to pay top dollar for the experience.
So ask yourself, is it really worth it to go backstage? In some cases I would say yes, like for me it would have to be for U2, I may think about it for a minute, but only if I had access to meet them and more than likley I would not pay for the experience.
"Backstage" means really nothing at the end of the day, "All Access" means access to the band and ONLY if you are affilated with the band or in most cases are willing to pay for the experience. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question.
I have passed the age where I will get a backstage pass stuck to my ass by a drummer or their roadies, but you can still try the old fashioned way, get your hot girlfriend or engaging male friend to ask a "laminated roadie" for a pass, or you can always wait at the hotel bar if the band you want to meet is in town for more than a few nights and meet them on you're own without having to pay for the experience. Well-known top touring bands/acts will typically stay at a nice hotel close to the venue or the "it" hotel in your hometown. The band members will go out and explore your hometown if they have a day off to themselves to do that. When Bono from U2 comes to Los Angeles he likes to frequent Canters, In and Out, and The Apple Pan and local churchs. I saw him at church once and I sat right behind him, though I did not get a selfie with him, I have the story and memory for a lifetime and did'nt have to pay for the experience.
Kris Embrey is the author of "Tell Me You Want Me" a fiction book based on the life of a background singer touring with the hottest band in rock and roll. Archway Publishing a Simon and Schuster Company.