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Wednesday, July 21

the sky is falling

The concert industry is struggling this year, big time. It has been struggling for years, but this year is the worst. CNN reports "People aren't buying tickets. For whatever reason, ticket sales dried up around the middle of April -- it was widespread across the industry". Gee, why in the world could this be happening, I thought to myself. Perhaps it is the recession, and many... if not all... of my generation (x) struggling to stay employed. Perhaps with gas at $2 a gallon we might have less discretionary income. But then the answer came to me... in the same article... that safely explains the trends of people not going to concerts anymore - "The average price of a ticket shot up from $26.05 in 1995 to $50.35 last year, according to Pollstar." Well, if the problem were that simple, it wouldn't take a monkey typing at typewriter to lure concert fans back... just lower prices, right?

Ah, it can't be that easy. There is probably a very complicated economic explanation for all this. I mean, if all we had to do to save the industry was lower ticket prices, you might see news like this: Promoters took note of the low ticket prices and have followed suit, albeit temporarily. Clear Channel Entertainment recently offered a one-day discount, selling lawn tickets at their Northern California outdoor amphitheaters for any show at $20 apiece, parking and fees included.

"They sold about 50,000 to 60,000 tickets in one day,"

You guessed it, same article. I want to say I am thrilled to death with this trend. As someone who used to go to concerts compulsively, I now go to only about 4 a year. It had better be a damn good deal too. Last year I saw Iron Maiden for $6, and Lolla was half price. The promoters are desperate, as they have launched most outdoor concerts for $20... with no service charge. That is significant, because Ticketbastard fees can run up to a third of the ticket price. So now that everyone has had to cancel their summer tours (Brittney, Christina, Lollapalooza etc) will the industry ever figure out to start with $20 tickets? Probably not, because two years ago I was getting free tickets to see bands like REM and Allman Brothers for the same problem.

If the industry is as slow to respond to ticket sale trends as they were to responding to digital music online, we are doomed. I mean, Napster launched about 6 or 7 years ago... and the industry is just getting around to the concept of selling songs for a buck a piece.

So I went to look across the (rock) industry. Van Halen is coming to town, and I would definitely pay up to $20 to see them. However, tickets are going for $91 (and $61 for nosebleed seats). On a $91 ticket, you are going to get about $30 in ticketmaster fees. Add to this, the venue sucks for sound. It is our basketball arena, which is a sonic nightmare.

The industry is concerned that by chopping ticket prices at the last minute (which has been their approach for the last few years) they are creating people like me who will simply wait until the promoters are terribly desperate. So, here is my open letter to Clear Channel: Dear folks, charge $20 up front for every ticket to the shows you know are going to sell slow anyhow. Or, don't book them.

Oh wait, here is my total special favoritist part of the article. I shit you not, it includes the following sentence: "Ticket prices have gone crazy -- very, very, very high, and nobody knows how to change that tide."

I gotta comment here. I am trying to hold back... nope - can't do it. Here is how they might change the tide - Charge less, you assholes! Again, another 500 word piece that could have been simplified by that last sentence.


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