Taylor Hicks, the Economics of Celebrity: Soul Patrol Style

Taylor Hicks recent news concerns the early release of his CD titled, “Early Works”. This being a compilation album containing most but not all of the songs from the two pre-reality show CDs that Mr. Hicks had created. Now certainly fans of his have likely already purchased “In Your Time” and “Under the Radar”. earlyworksI never bought the “In Your Time” because the price was too high. For the most part you’d pay anywhere from $25.00 and up and it contained only about seven songs, three were covers.

Having taken economics in college, I understand the whole concept. Price regarding a product, it’s all about supply and demand, baby. That’s what drove that little body of work to become such a pricey little collector piece. I got that. I made the decision not to buy it though for that very reason. Besides you could hear those tunes on-line whenever you wished for the most part. Now Boogie Board moderator and past Gray Charles poster, and of course, obviously, big Taylor Hicks’ fan, AmyH outlined her emotions in her blog, “Crafty Peaches” which I read today. I enjoy AmyH’s writings, and she covers in a very diplomatic way the concept of the past CD market prices and the current Taylor Hicks CD that is simply a compilation of past tunes.

AmyH’s point carries much food for thought regarding the concept of cost, how price can fluctuate with demand. She is left feeling somewhat conflicted regarding have paid that $25.00 for the “In Your Time” when now, sans a few tunes such as “Hell of a Day”, which is on Taylor Hicks’ post-Idol Wal-mart edition CD, you can have both CD’s on one plastic disc for much less. Quandary for the conflict, did Mr. Hicks use market strategy in the pricing of his music? Of course he did. It’s business. Now did he charge those high prices back then with a scheme in mind to re-release the two CD’s onto one? That I’m not sure of, I think this new release of the “Early Works” was something cooked up in the not so distant past. In fact, I could see this being something decided upon when Mr. Hicks first CD from his stint on Idol was not met with the kind of reception that had been anticipated by many fans as well as Mr. Hicks. You know, go back to the drawing board, so to speak.

It is rather pointedly coincidental that with Mr. Hicks taking this role in “Grease”, the resulting positive exposure he’s reaping from this gig, that this compilation CD is released now. Certainly Mr. Hicks could have anticipated the potential need to have something relatively immediate to offer his fans and potential new fans. An offering to exemplify the product he created before Clive Davis and 19E got their talons into him. Perfect ideology for a lead in for any new works to be released as well.
Think about this too, soon after season five ended of America Idol, Taylor Hicks was approached to do a book, a ‘life story’ type to describe how he went from ‘there’ to ‘here’ sort of thing. Granted he’s a young man and had plenty of experiences to talk about, but he is a tad young for a “Life Story” type of novel. Thing is he knew there was a market out there who would buy it. When the book first came out to the tune of about $25.00 his Idol fans were snatching it up and even buying large quantities to ship to the U.S. troops overseas – still do. Time was right to have such a piece of material out, you know that adage, strike while the fire’s hot, no matter how brief, time-wise the man’s career truly was, to date. Think about it, ten years as a struggling musician…ten years goes by in a heart blip when you consider how quickly time seems to pass when your children grow up in the span from one to ten years old.

So any fans that may bemoan having spent triple the cost of the “Early Works” CD in the past for that real very early work, “In Your Time”, look at what you possess as a fan. You bought something that was the authentic Early Works in its original format. I’d recommend that possibly you save those CD’s and purchase this new version to play in your home or car and save the others for what they really represent – memorabilia and collector’s items. Too think of them as what else they represent; a study in business and economics, supply and demand.

Life should be a learning event, just ask Taylor Hicks. He’s now entered into another supply and demand venture. Reading over on his myspace was this announcement:

Friday, July 11, 2008 Share Some “Summer Lovin’” With Taylor Hicks!
“Hey Soul Patrol Members, Membership has it’s privileges. Make sure you take advantage of the Meet & Greet packages available exclusively to fan club members for a limited time as they will soon be made available to the general public! Not a Soul Patrol Member? Join now to take advantage of this exclusive offer. Don’t wait, because Taylor will be gone just like “Greased Lightnin'”…

Besides reading on the thick slice of Velveeta side, the writer of that blog post sounds like a carnival barker, “Come one, Come all, take your chances!” What this post is alluding to is how fans can now lay out to the tune of $475.00 tickets for two to “Grease” and a brief, I think it’s ten minutes, meeting with Mr. Hicks in his dressing room. It also invites anyone interested to join the Headquarters site, which is about $25.00 too, I think. I have never joined that site, abstaining from paying fan sites one of my many quirks. Certainly with the positive New York press and the havoc that has apparently been being created on the Broadway Fan Boards regarding Taylor Hicks this latest development in Soul Patrol economics doesn’t surprise me. Once again Mr. Hicks is going to strike while that Soul Patrol Iron is hot and Greased.

Many of his fans will likely become enthusiastic at this prospect of meeting the man face to face and having a quiet little sit-down. It would beat the usual fan frenzy after the show settings or the rushed Meet and Greet formats in mass venues. I can’t knock the guy for doing it, time will tell how well this works out for him. I don’t know of anyone else in the Broadway market who has ever done this, but then I’m not an expert on celebrity events. I will say the whole concept while thought out as perhaps a fan perk as well as a way to justify the man’s ten minutes just sits sideways with me. I find this more conflicting to embrace than the idea of purchasing the “In Your Time” for $25.00 versus “Early Works” for about $11.00. It just smacks of allowing yourself to be ‘pimped’ out and I don’t like to think of Taylor Hicks in that manner. Perhaps the semantics of this new development being a little over thought by myself. After all, the art of celebrity is a business, and that lesson in economics always holds true. thgreased
“Let’s Make Lots of Money” aka “Opportunites”


17 Responses to Taylor Hicks, the Economics of Celebrity: Soul Patrol Style

  1. Gretchen says:

    Wow, that’s quite a dissertation for a decison to spend $10 on a compilation CD. Man, I think I lost that money under the couch last week. Another way of looking at it, it fills about 1/8 of my tank of gas.

    I’m buying this CD for basically one reason – okay two reasons. One is that there’s some great tunes on there, but more importantly, I’m kinda investing in this guys future recordings. He’s a talent that has been severely underrated, and if I can support him to get his music out to more people, then I’m more than happy to spend the money I’d pay for 2 cups of Starbuck’s coffee.

    And about the m&g, if he can make some money off of his name and his popularity, then man, I say do it Taylor! Strike while the iron is hot, cuz as we all know, this business is fickle and things can swing in a moment. I think the people who are complaining most about this are those who can’t afford it. Welcome to America, baby… those who have, DO, and those who can’t, DON’T.

  2. spinshack says:

    Man, you must have one big vehicle if $10. fills only an eighth. Go green not your thing, apparently.

    I wouldn’t spend almost 500.00 to spend ten minutes with Mr. Hicks. I have other things to target that kind of money toward, but if you have it and want to, by all means go for it.

  3. Tayfancier says:

    Doesn’t the $475 really include two tickets in the Orchestra Pit which are well over $200 each? Can’t believe Taylor would make much on this deal. He’s probably doing it for the fans. He’s seeing celebs get back stage on their name alone. Maybe this is a chance for average Jane/Joe to get the perk the celebrities do. Of course, most of us can’t afford $200 for a ticket anyway. I know I can’t (esp. since air fare and hotel would have to be taken care of). And yes $75 would be a lot to spend for Taylor, but how many can say they’ve been in Taylor’s dressing room on Broadway or even backstage on Broadway at all.

  4. spinshack says:

    I’m not a member of HQ so not sure about seating. Really it’s not a hugely outrageous price to see a show on Broadway with great seats and all – rather my issue is more about the fact he’s even doing this and the way it was promoted on his Myspazz site. So carney sounding. ha.

    If folks have the money and want to do that with it go for it, but the entire feel of the issue smacks kind of smarmy.

    I could see a contest with his HQ site maybe for a real treat for the fans – if this is what it is suppose to be – in that a certain number of seats and the dressing room meet and greet including transportation and hotel to be given to fans via a contest or something. That would be a positive and you know that could be afforded by Mr. Hicks and his group. Just read the GirlFriends’ site and all the high life Mr. Hicks is enjoying according to them – the LIMOS, the top shelf beer, (hahaha) the expensive shoes and clothing. blah, blah, blah.

    That to me would speak positive volumes to his fan base. This step right up and shill out $500. for the ‘priviledge’ crap is what rankles me, sounds pompous and fake. It’s like he’s selling a little part of himself and that’s demeaning. It’s not doing him nor his devoted fans any favors, either.

  5. cath says:

    If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Why spend unnecessary time exercising your brain only to conclude that “business is business” and that Taylor is enjoying the fruits of his labor regardless of his motives.

    The calculator was expensive when first marketed as was the computer, the cell phone, the record player, the tape recorder , the adding machine, the TV , the radio……Taylor’s costs decreased because he had already recorded those songs and whatever he did with them for the new release of “Early Works” costs less to produce than the original two CD’s…. perhaps that is a clue to the decrease in cost? Whatever the reasons, there is no point in extrapolating……..buy “Early Works” or don’t.

  6. carole says:

    If I had the money I would be there in a New York minute. For pictures in his dressing room and with Taylor. Not having a body guard yelling at you to move on. Great.
    Taylo Hicks, the man and his music. Oh, I have In Your Time, Under the Radar and have ordered 3 of his Early Work Cds. I hope this man is around for a long time.
    I’m glad you’re in my time, Taylor.

  7. spinshack says:

    This isn’t just about buying the “Early Works” Cd, it’s also about artistic motives and integrity. I suppose if you want to just look at the basics you can narrow it down in that way, Cath.

    Carole, certainly if it would make you really happy watching the man sell himself off moment by moment go for it. Think about it, though. If Taylor Hicks wants to be ‘Somebody’ big in music one day and I think he does – he needs act like it.

    Would Bono as a wild and out there example do this? No. Not unless the monies were going full and total to charity. Would Chris Martin do this? Man, trying to imagine Bobby Dylan putting himself through this makes me laugh. Elvis on the other hand would likely make this into some kind of free – free contest for the fans to win all expenses included. He was a generous man.

    It’s selling your soul piece by piece allocating your time to equal money. That diminishes him and cheapens the moment. I’d not do it – I’d feel like I’d bought myself a part of him and that would take away from his character, his whole mystique for me. Perhaps I’m just strange.

  8. TeenAngel says:

    spinshack, Taylor is “acting” just fine. Look at how many of those so call “somebody” in music are “acting”. Many of them charge thousands of dollars to appear at shindigs. I’m glad I saw Taylor in Grease. He was phenomenal both in Grease and after the show. He graciously signed people’s material, and took pictures with his fans. I can attest to that.

  9. todd says:

    Mystique? really? Sellout? I guess if you would like to think he’s too ‘pure’ to charge money to meet his fans, you could say he sold out just by going on Idol, no?
    A friend of mine who is a crew member with several major bands once asked me how TH ran his m&g’s – he was shocked when I told him they were free…said TH was missing a great revenue opportunity. Yes, everyone’s charging for m&g’s now. Even auctioning them off to the highest bidder on Ticketmaster. What you get is a “walkthrough,” signed 8×10 (no pics), a hello and out the door. What TH is offering is much more than most – very limited number of tickets, time in his dressing room? Unheard of.
    He’s hot right now, he should take advantage of that. How else is he going to fund the music? He’s not being supported by (or going into perpetual debt to) a big label. Income is not a dirty word, and if you can’t support yourself off your fans, how else then?
    I think the “thankyouforvotingforme” phase is over, time to move on.

  10. spinshack says:

    Todd, going on Idol and charging folks for a M & G are apples and oranges. One was a reality show contest, the other is admission to say hello and show support for the guy. Now if he wants to market ‘packages’ for fans to get that honor of meeting him, fine, but it puts a monetary attachment on the moments spent, lessens the heart of the experience.

    That said, Todd, I’d not pay to meet any artist in a M & G situation. That’s my prerogative as an individual. Let Mr. Hicks or anyone else for that matter charge whatever the hell they want and if fans are ready to pay up and want to then I say go for it. I’d not tell anyone not to do it, I am saying I wouldn’t. It’s a matter of the artist having a purity of semantics regarding integrity, self-pride and honor in my mind.

    There are many artists out there, now and in the past who have not done this – of course there are many who don’t hold those M & G’s at all. Regarding the whole concept of M & G’s – if their heart is not in it to meet the fans for the pleasure of doing so then the artist, Taylor Hicks in this case, doesn’t need to do it, maybe.

    What Taylor Hicks offering, a ten minute chat in his dressing room for a fee is not unheard of, Todd. There have been other performers who have done the same thing, this is not a new concept nor unheard of as you’d like me to believe.

    Funding his music is expensive, but if he’s striving with all of his soul to do that why live in such high style if it costs you the inability to make the music? That’s rather an oxymoron isn’t it? Cut back, dedicate to the music.

    It’s like with anyone out there in the world, Man, it’s a study here of choices. A study of priorities. He needs not worry about the star appearance, the accoutrements of luxury for image sake. He needs to aim that talent he possesses like a laser at those who are interested in him, aim it at that music he speaks of in his soul, not aim it at making a few extra dollars here and there like this. To become great, he needs project that – the image and vibe won’t come by selling off pieces of yourself in an almost “come see the bearded lady” circus sideshow format. That, though is my opinion Todd, and I am positive many will and do disagree with me.

    Sure he’s hot right now, and now is when he needs to be making the wisest choices concerning fans, life and music.

    Regarding your last line, Todd, I’m not talking about any “thank you for voting for me” phase, hell he needs live in the here and now – leave the Idol days where they belong – that first step up the ladder to what he’s felt he needs to do all of his life. Now if all Mr. Hicks wants, Todd, is the limelight, the adoration, the fancy shoes and apartments, and a wad of cash in his pocket that’s his dream, fine, not for me to judge, baby. If Mr. Hicks wants to be a credible musician and break current molds in the industry then he needs act like that – integrity, compassion, empathy are greatly missing in today’s world. Everyone’s out to nab a buck from your pocket, one way or another. Being different would be embracing all of those qualities and then some.

    These are merely my opinions, Todd. Opinions are like assholes right? We all have one. You might think I’m an ass for expressing mine, and that would be your opinion. I’m okay with that.

  11. Whatever says:

    Spin, just a few comments. I think you’re missing the whole point of charging for meet and greets – it’s all about business. Yes, it does become monetary and some of the genuine sincerity is removed, but the entertainment business has always been about spending money and always will be. I personally would never spend that kind of money to meet any celebrity, because that’s honestly not important to me, but to some people it is, and hey, if you want to meet Taylor that badly, I’d say go for it. You are supporting his career, so it’s a win-win for everybody.

    Todd – If Taylor truly wants to get over the “thankyouforvotingforme” phase of his career, please tell him to STOP with the soul patrol shout-outs. I usually cringe whenever I hear him and for the life of me, I don’t why he still does it. He always ends up sounding so fake – like he’s forcing himself -JUST PLEASE STOP. It’s not worth it for the few fans that still like it. That phase is OVER – please tell him to move on.

  12. spinshack says:

    I’m not missing the point of celebrity/entertainment business needing money. That’s what this focus is about, the economics of it all. Man, I know what it’s about, it’s like any business, but I’m with you, I don’t agree with the pay for the minute meets, wouldn’t spend my money on it, but if others have it and want to then do it. I will buy his music, attend shows though, as support.

    Mr. Hicks is at an important junction right now and it’s kind of essential to do the best for the right reasons once the lights are currently shining on him.

    I should have included that aspect in my message to Todd, the leaving behind “thanksforvoting” and ‘Soul Patrol’ – glad you included it Whatever. Point being that shout out is a form of the “thankyouforvoting” idea.

    I understand it’s hard for him to stop that though, it’s a similar to a ‘name brand’ issue.

  13. Whatever says:

    The thing is how do you expect to build your fanbase when the shout-outs are meant for your fanbase alone? Unless, he’s desparately trying to hold on these people. But, at this point, if you are shallow enough to care about a shout-out, is it even worth it to hold on to these people? Probably not.

  14. todd says:

    Sorry, quick point of clarification – the “moving on” thing was in reference to the ‘sense of entitlement’ vibe from some of the fans – having unlimited free access. Nothing to do with the ‘soul patrol,’ I agree with the blogger, it’s part of the brand, not going away.

  15. Whatever says:

    Taylor will never be a success with the ‘soul patrol’ albatross around his neck. At this point, it won’t even matter if the music is good or not, because these kind of gimmicks never work. Who knows I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

  16. spinshack says:

    Whatever, the mainstay of that albatross is the lack of cohesiveness behind the Soul Patrol. So many factions, so much strife. Only Taylor could make it cohesive and bring it together and so far, he’s just letting things lie.

    I guess I’m much more activist than pacifist. I’d not let this continue were I Mr. Hicks.

  17. […] before i wrap it up for the night, i wanted to share a link to an interesting post that i came acros… […]

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