There's an old adage stating: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public." And you can substitute "American" for just about any other audience on the planet.
Therefore the essential rule in entertainment is -- "Know Your Audience". Because to be truly successful, you've got to appeal to what it is they want, not what it is you want them to like.
Oh, you can claim you're leading them to some better place, or improving their tastes. But if you do, you're either kidding yourself or courting disaster.
Which brings me to the current kerfuffle over people not being able to get tickets to see the final tour of "The Tragically Hip".
Now, a lot of bands retire. The players get tired of touring or choke on their own vomit. Albums stop selling, the lead singer opts for a solo career, or what they were doing simply goes out of fashion.
I've never been a huge fan of "The Hip", but I've liked some of their stuff and understand the attraction. And if they had simply announced they were calling it quits, I'm sure they would have enjoyed a successful and celebratory farewell.
But concurrent with the announcement of the tour, the band also let fans know that Gord Downie, their lead singer, was dealing with a terminal Cancer.
And, of course, the demand for tickets went nuts.
In my current hometown of Victoria, where the tour will kick off on July 22nd, the arena sold out in 30 seconds and StubHub is offering pairs of floor tickets for $10,000 -- US -- which puts them at $12,800 Canadian.
Why would people pay prices like that?
For the same reason they gawk at traffic accidents. They want to see the dead guy.
The Promoters knew the real money wasn't in directing sales at fans of the band, but in appealing to the geek factor in the rest of us.
People weren't purchasing a last chance to watch Gord sing "Bobcaygeon" or "Blow At High Dough", they were paying for the opportunity to gawk at a dying man, perhaps getting a chubby at the possibility he might do a Jackie Wilson and gack right in front of them while warbling his biggest hit.
30 years ago, filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik borrowed a video camera from a local access station to document the arrival of fans at a Maryland "Judas Priest" concert. It's as fine a depiction as you'll ever find of most of those for whom you are creating what you consider works of art or entertainment and has been named to Rolling Stone's list of "Best Rock Documentaries".
I've appended it with a video of "Judas Priest" in performance. Those of you willing to spend a few grand for Hip tickets may enjoy it simply for the fact that some of these guys are now probably dead as well.
Enjoy Your Sunday.
Heavy Metal Parking Lot from Jeff Krulik on Vimeo.