Coverage: Empire Soundtrack Album Signing (NYC)

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"Coverage: Empire Soundtrack Album Signing (NYC)"

20150317_235123-1-1The date?  Tuesday March 17th.  The location?  Fulton Center, the newly renovated transit hub that opened back in November.

The event?  An album signing featuring cast members of the television phenomenon Empire.

Scheduled to appear?  Breakout stars Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) and Bryshere “Yazz” Gray (Hakeem Lyon).

At 7am sharp the first person had lined up and arrived for the signing.  NO it wasn’t me, I was at my day job at 6:33am.  The excited fan was told he was TOO early so he decided to go home home and come back later.  THANK GOD because my friend Julie arrived 2 hours later at 9am and was now the FIRST person on line.  I left work at 11:33am (I took a half day) and arrived shortly before 12 noon anticipating there would be a ton of people there, but to my surprise I was the second person to line up.  Nothing had been set up for the event yet (hence some of the photos you see below).  Two girls in their 20’s arrived shortly after me and before long fans started to arrive and line up.  By 3pm there were already 50 of the 600+ people that were expected to show up.

Hip Hop station Hot 97 was also in the building as well as their on air hosts, the lovely Nessa and Laura Stylez.  In addition to the banners and billboards advertising the show they also had life size cutouts of 6 of the 8 main characters (Cookie, Jamal, Hakeen, Dre, Lucious and Anika).

By 4:55pm the first 200 or so were lined up in front of the table were the actual signing would happen.  Another 100 were lined up across from where we were with the remaining part of the line just outside the center within a parade of barricades.

A little after 6pm the very foundation of Fulton Center was shaken by the sounds of screams of hundreds of fans and bystanders as Jussie and Yazz, escorted by as security team, descended a staircase and made their way over to the table where they would be greeting the fans.  Prior to the meet and greet Jussie and Yazz did a short interview with Nessa and  with a small q & a questions the fans on line had submitted earlier in the day.

Jussie and Yazz look EXACTLY like they do on the show (so YES ladies and gentlemen the men look GOOD in person).  But you know what was even more cool?  They were both so NICE to meet in person.  They hugged some fans, tried to talk with them as much as their could and were happy to see everyone. That fame monster is a NASTY mother fucker so I HOPE they STAY as they are because the humbleness is what will KEEP them grounded and keep the fans coming back for more.

Now that I’ve highlighted the good things about about he album signing let’s go behind the velvet rope and highlight the BAD things that happen at events like an album signing or meet and greet.  NOT to worry because Jussie nor Yazz have anything to do with the bad, they were class act gentlemen last night.

For starters I have advice for ALL record labels and ALL people who put together and/or oversee album signings and meet and greet events.  You ready?  STOP BEING SO FUCKING GREEDY and MAKE these events ABOUT the FANS and NOT about album/ticket sales!  Instead of capping the number of wristbands off at say 200-300 and make the event a little more intimate to allow fans to feel like they actually got to connect with Jussie and Yazz, they allowed 600+ wristbands to go out and had the fans go up the table and out like a factory line.  I know I had a few things I wanted to tell Jussie and Yazz and yet I only had enough time to shake their hands, congratulate them on getting recording contracts and ask if they could sign the physical cd itself.  Jussie signed the actual cd but the security guard at the table prevented me from giving it to Yazz (who was reaching to take it).  Because of that SAME security guard 1 of the 4 copies I had with me to get signed was not signed my Yazz.

Secondly there was a young guy in a wheelchair (there’s a picture of him meeting Jussie and Yazz) was out ahead of my friend who was first in line.  Now before I say what I’m about to say let me state for the record that I do NOT have any issues/prejudices/problems with handicap people.  That being said I do find it somewhat disrespectful that a person in a wheelchair who arrived somewhere around 2:30-3pm is brought to the front of the line ahead of all the people who arrived and lined up before him.  Now I get offering assistance and trying to accommodate those who are handicap, but to put them ahead of those who put in the time and effort to arrive early (I did say in the begining my friend arrived at 9am right?  She STAYED put until the signing event began right?  Regardless of a person’s situation it just isn’t right and for putting in 9 hours Julie had EVERY right to be the FIRST person to meet Jussie and Yazz.

Thirdly you weren’t allowed to take photos (posed or selfies) with Jussie and Yazz unless you were a radio contest winner (that took place upstairs in a closed off area).  These rising stars have become household overnight sensations and at this point are already BIG that by the next event (say if Jussie or Yazz have a signing for their debut albums) there DEFINITELY won’t be any picture taking happening.  You would not believe the number of people on line BUMMED that they wouldn’t be able to get a picture with the guys.  Now me I’m more of an autograph seeker but hell I would’ve LOVED to have taken a picture with Jussie and Yazz!

Fourth there was no personalizing of your autograph, it was simply the stars putting their signature on your cd booklet.  What these label people don’t take into account are the hours these fans spend line up awaiting to meet the stars.  At the least they should be able to get their named written on their cd, it should be standard compensation for not only choosing to buy the cd but also for willing to line up for hours just to see Jussie and Yazz upclose.

Lastly the rushing of the people has GOT to STOP!  For those of you who’ve never been to one of these events, on average they send fans up to the table like a factory line attempting to get as many people in to see the celebs as possible.  The problem?  Everything feels RUSHED.  You have but maybe a few seconds to say hi and attempt to get something out before the security hired for the event is ushering you away from the table and on your way.  On top of that the possibility of getting your autograph smudged could happen.  I brought 4 copies of the soundtrack to be signed and do you know that 2 of those copies got smudged because of the rush?  SO MAD because those 2 copies were gifts I was giving to someone.  At the least give each fan a minute to have a mini conversation, get a posed picture and get your item personalized.

I will come back full and end this article on a positive note.  As if today Empire adds another accolade to it’s resume as the Season 1 soundtrack debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart outselling the latest  Madonna album Rebel Heart.  In addition to that Bryshere “Yazz” Gray recently signed a major label deal (though he hasn’t disclosed which label he signed with) joining Jussie Smollett (who recently signed his own record deal with Columbia records) as the second cast member to score a recording contract.  Highest rated new series of the 2014-2015 season.  Record making and recording breaking viewership.  Two cast members getting record deals.  First soundtrack debuting at #1.  This has CLEARLY been an Empire year and congrats all around.  The highly anticipated two hour season finale airs at a special time tonight begining at 8pm on Fox.

Check out Pics from the Event

#Empire #Season1Soundtrack #AlbumSigning #JussieSmollett #JamalLyon #Yazz aka #BryshereYGray #HakeemLyon #Empiresday #SonyRecordsFucksUpYetAgain