There has been a lot of serious hatred, screaming fits, tears and tantrums first about the New Kids on the Block merging with the Backstreet Boys for a worldwide tour, and then about the fact that the new website for NKOTB now charges a membership fee. I have seen a lot of comments about being bled for money and how they’re taking advantage of fans and so forth. Let me divulge a little something that might give a little perspective:
I am an author, which is not unlike being a musician in that you are creating a product for people. The average retail price of my published books is $22. When someone purchases one of my books, I as the author only receive between $2 and $4 of the $22, depending on which retailer sold the book. My publisher has to be repaid for the cost of printing among other things and I am the last person to get paid. If I had an agent, that person would get a percentage of my $2 to $4 profit per book. The music industry works in a very similar way with ticket sales, CD sales, merchandise, etc. When you add more people to it, the piece of the profit gets smaller and smaller.
In all of the anger I have seen lately, I would like to talk about a few other possibilities that might be factors in all of these changes. I am NOT saying these are the reasons why these things are happening. I’m saying they are possibilities that might have affected the way things are being operated right now.
Remember that the artist is always the last to get paid. We learned that from the TLC bankruptcy. The gross money earned has to pay for the tours, the traveling, the band, the crew, the dancers, the wardrobe, the videos, the studio time, the management team, etc., etc. Whatever is leftover goes to the artist. In this case, NKOTB was dividing it five ways. Now they’re dividing it nine ways. Like it or not, this is a business and the business has to pay for itself. People keep saying, “We were supposed to be a family!” The cold hard truth is, yes, they care about fans, but they have to pay for everything they do and make a profit to make it worth it for them too. TLC sold out tour, 20 mil records and only made about $70,000 each after everything was repaid to the record label, etc., for that year. It’s not as glamorous as we think. Do not mistake me. NKOTB isn’t hurting for money like TLC was, in my opinion, but this big merger has to pay for itself.
There is also another thing to consider. Think about when these dates go on sale. BSB has had paid membership to their website with presales to concerts and stuff for years. When things would have gone on sale and we all would have seen BSB fans getting presale tickets, I guarantee there would have been a huge uproar like there is right now. So it was either have an uproar over BSB getting presale without us to our collective shows or an uproar over making everything streamline between the two groups. I don’t think anybody would have been happy either way NKOTB went.
The bottom line is this new fan club thing has happened. You can join or not. I just encourage people to think about all sides of the argument before flipping out in a rage. Truthfully it’s naïve to think that this isn’t a business that has to make a profit. You can choose to be miserable or you can choose to go with the flow or not participate.
I don’t think this is the end of the world. Several people I know have had devastating news, lost loved ones and have been suffering a lot recently. When you face the deaths of people you love and you find your lives changed forever by cancer and other illnesses, as people I know have, little things like the choice to join a fan club or not really doesn’t matter. Music groups like NKOTB and BSB are around to inspire fun in people’s lives. If you’re not having fun with them anymore, then there is nothing that says you are required to be part of their scene. You can still be a fan and enjoy the music and the friends you’ve made without going bankrupt or feeling like you’re a bad fan for not doing every little thing. Nobody is holding a gun to your head. If you can’t do it or don’t want to do it anymore, then it’s perfectly okay to devote your time and energy to something else that makes you happy. In my view, devoting such negative time and energy to complaining, investing in anger, etc., is going to hurt you a lot more than anyone else. I advise finding another way to channel all of this energy that isn’t so negative.