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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Stereo Dinner adds 'eat' to music 'meet-and-greet' events

Stereo Dinner

In the time of COVID-19 and its devastating effect on the music and touring industries, Stereo Dinner looks to evolve the traditional artist “meet-and-greet” event into a “meet-greet-and-eat.”

“I was at a booking agent/talent buyers meeting where this question was asked: Is the traditional artist meet-and-greet dead?” recalls Stereo Dinner founder/talent buyer Jon Weiss.

“The short answer, unfortunately, seems to be yes. The traditional meet-and-greet as we know it is ‘off the table’ for at least the time being. But new, innovative and COVID-regulated ways to do business are in the works, and I believe Stereo Dinner is one of them.”

Stereo Dinner, Weiss says, is an “intimate, immersive and extended M&G [meet-and-greet] experience with a favorite artist, over a truly elevated meal for up to 30 like-minded music and food enthusiasts who are equally interested in meeting and interacting with each other through pre- and post-event online ‘community building’ meet-ups.”

Lasting from 75-90 minutes, each Stereo Dinner is “chaperoned and curated by one of our event producers, COVID-screened, and carried out in a carefully-controlled setting,” Weiss adds. “With on-site security and a moderator--who is often a well-known musician or music journalist--we ensure comfort, security and enjoyment for both the artists and their fans.”

Each Stereo Dinner caters to the specific needs, tastes and interests of the artists and their fans, and can take place before or after an artist’s show—or even when no shows are slated.

“No shows scheduled? No problem!” says Weiss, noting that the dinner can stand alone as its own show.

Otherwise, “It’s an artist joining their fans for a truly good meal,” he says. “The artist tells us what they’re in the mood for at a tour stop, and we’ll happily recommend a few of our carefully chosen restaurant partners to plan a great meal well in advance. Or they can request their preferred restaurant—or even a fave food truck. And if they want to perform, great! If not, that’s fine, too.”

Weiss notes that a Stereo Dinner can also be streamed-only, “allowing the artist to take a seat at the head of the table virtually from anywhere they want.” Additionally, it can come directly to the artist.

“We address any travel concerns at this time by presenting Stereo Dinner in their area, requiring no travel and no mandatory self-quarantining,” he says.

But if an artist is on the road, Stereo Dinner partners with “select restaurant groups along an artist’s route or wherever they plan to be” in coordinating “intimate and meaningful gatherings that lift the VIP meet-and-greet to new heights, both financially for the artist and experientially for their biggest fans.” And Weiss stresses that the events are always “100 percent COVID-19 compliant”: In keeping with current official local health guidelines, Stereo Dinner staff are regularly screened, and all guests are required to complete a wellness questionnaire and waiver after purchasing a ticket. They must also undergo a contactless temperature check and wellness screening, and wear a face covering when entering and moving through the restaurant.

A veteran New York talent buyer and promoter, Weiss handles the booking end of Stereo Dinner. He’s joined on the production side by hospitality industry event producer Max Puglisi, and on the creative end by entertainment marketing/communications maven Chris Lott.

“We advance every detail, and produce, present, and market accordingly,” says Weiss. “Stereo Dinner provides event producers and security onsite for every event. Tour managers are always invited to join us at the table for dinner and are welcome to oversee, and we love to collaborate with artists on menus and event details. From free-wheeling conversation to a pre-screened Q&A, from a wine pairing to promoting a new record, we speak the artist’s language.”

Weiss further sees a “unique approach to culinary community building around an artist, ensuring a smooth event while maximizing ticket sales.” By partnering with select artists and restaurant groups, Stereo Dinner can “lift the VIP meet-and-greet to new heights,” he says, “both financially for the artist, and experientially for the fan--via pre-event networking through social media and video conferencing.”

Stereo Dinner, maintains Weiss, offers “an intimate lift scenario: an opportunity for an increase in revenue. At premium prices, it offers a one-of-a-kind experiential event designed for those who are interested in connecting with their favorite artists on a deeper and more meaningful level than any VIP meet-and-greet that’s currently available--while we all wait for larger post-COVID gatherings to return.”

Pricing, then, starts at $350 per ticket for up to 30 attendees, of which the artist is guaranteed a minimum of 25 percent--along with 100 percent of merch sales. In addition to the meal and pre-event online networking, the ticket also includes a group photo op, swag bag, and shuttle service to the concert venue.

“Very careful attention is paid to not conflict or compete with any existing meet-and-greet packages,” notes Weiss, envisioning Stereo Dinner as a “community-building model.”

“Artist and fans are literally breaking bread together,” he explains. “Before the table is set, we engage all dinner guests in online socialization and expectation-setting. This allows them to get to know each other and the etiquette required for a Stereo Dinner. The dinner itself then strengthens the artist’s community of fans, while hitting all the culinary high notes as either a standalone or an event bundled into an existing meet-and-greet package.”

Weiss notes that with the advent of social media, artists have never been more accessible.

“Social norms are changing. Fans are looking for deeper and more meaningful experiences. Staring up at an artist on a stage and loving their music is a big piece of that. But it’s not the only piece, nor is it enough for some fans and for some artists.”

Stereo Dinner, he concludes, “services that part of this growing community that feels this way, that hungers for more. At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity for everyone at the table to learn and grow from--and appreciate.”



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