Prince, photos and the clash of expectations


Paradiso+AmsterdamLast Sunday Prince played two surprise shows at Paradiso in Amsterdam. It started with a fuss about the high ticket prices. Still, the shows were sold out within no time. It was a unique opportunity for fans to see their idol in such an intimate setting. I wasn’t there. On Monday I read in the papers about what I call a clash of expectations.

First let’s take Prince. He’s a star, used to be a public figure and having very little privacy. He will be spotted by fans everywhere, they want his attention at any time, where ever he shows his face. So he has hired some big security guys to protect him, to grant him some privacy. These guys will handle everything for him.

Prince has become a brand, to himself and to his fans. To protect this brand, only a very limited amount of people are allowed to get to know the person behind that brand. So it makes sense that at the show in Amsterdam it was forbidden to take pictures. It’s a way to keep in control of the brand Prince and the way he is portrayed in public. The audience could see it in big signs at the entrance to the hall. Prince is usually playing at huge arenas. The audience stands as such a big distance to the stage, that good photos can only be taken with a huge telephoto lens. This intimate setting is a gift to his fans. The expectation is, that the fans will be grateful to have this chance and that they will respect the rule of not taking photos.

Fans on the other side have their own set of rules. It’s a sport to get as much information about your hero as possible. You want to show him that you understand him, that you have a special bond with him. And you want your hero to confirm you in that feeling, so you can show it to all your friends. Talking during the show is part of the game, as is to take photos. You have to take them yourself, that way you can show everyone that you were really there, and you will have something that no one else has. And the artist should know that he is dependent on his fans. So a request for NOT taking photos can’t be serious, it’s against the expectations you have as a fan.

The fans paid approx. € 100 per ticket. Some of them did take photos and had to leave the show for that. They were angry, Prince was angry, all because of this clash of expectations.

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