You spin me right round, like a record baby

I was looking for concert tickets the other week.  For an out-of-town show. In the fall.

Am I a ‘fan’? I don’t really know.  A consumer, yes; fan, who knows.

It used to be a lot easier. You’d go to the venue, you’d stand in line, you’d get a ticket, and then you’d go to the show.

Or in my case, you’d make a long distance call and see what you could get.

Not so easy these days. If you don’t have ‘connections’, that is.

Really, I don’t want to join “X” band’s fan club or ‘friend’ them on their MySpace page. I don’t like being on databases.  I’ve signed up on a couple of sites in order to get a free MP3 download. Shame on me.  But it was an even exchange. Actually, I did buy the CD and the track that was the download was a hidden track and wasn’t put on the deluxe CD edition, and it was annoying to have to fastforward through the last song to get to the song I really liked.  On my MySpace ‘profile’, I’ve gotten quite a few ‘friend’ requests from bands and ‘recording artists’ I’ve never heard of or really plan to listen to. Yeah, it’s a marketing tool, but please do read my profile. No, I don’t know if I’ll check out any of your stuff on your profile page. I don’t have a lot of free time. Play a show in my town, and maybe I’ll check you out. Give me something that makes me want to check you out. Like the audience for Spinal Tap, I’ve become a bit more, uh, selective. I need the 18 inches high Stonehenge prop, the dancing druids. Back at university, I did some volunteer stuff for a music promoter.  I learned a lot. I get ‘it’, I really do. Not your standard ‘rock chick’. Far from.

Anyway, back to business, the music business. Getting in on a ticket pre-sale? Well, I’ve heard horror stories about those. No better seats than you would have gotten in the computer lotto of hitting the ‘refresh’ key on the official ticket sales date. The pre-sales of yore were spending a few hundred dollars to join an elite crowd that got first access to tickets.  Not fair. No, I really can’t afford to spend $200 per show either. Simply put, few bands are worth that kind of money. As a music fan, I’m suffering.

As are music artists. Ticket sales have tumbled, concert attendance has fallen. More TV ads for upcoming concerts.  Some recording artists have ‘postponed’ their tours.  Concert prices have been lowered, Live Nation has waived its June fees at 50 of its venues. So what gives.

The hottest ticket this summer? The Technology and Greed Reunion Tour. An affectionate term. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. You certainly won’t miss out. It’s not the final farewell. That tour will be going on for quite some time. The first  ‘T&G tour’ killed CD sales. It’s time to bring down the curtain on concert sales. The final countdown? The collapse of the music industry. Or its current business model.

1994 was a very good year for the music biz. It brought the Eagles’ ‘Hell Freezes Over’ tour. First time that concert ticket prices hit $100. People paid and the concert industry and the audience haven’t looked back. Other artists raised prices, the fans paid, and ticket sellers wanted their piece of the action. Hello, service fees. How did my $60 ticket become $80?

And then ticketing went global. The game changed. Scalping took on a whole new meaning. Not just the run-of-the-mill type of someone wanting to make a few dollars by selling tickets outside the venue. Scum. I’ll take my $60 seat instead of the lovely 4th row $500 one, thank you very much. The ticket sellers also got in to the game by redirecting ticket buyers to their own reselling sites. What a tangled web we weave….

The music industry is in trouble again. Industry reports show that in the last week of May, less than 5 million CDs were sold. One of the lowest sales weeks  in decades. So, artists tour longer and farther to fill their coffers. Some still living in a bubble. Floating up til the bubble pops.

And this is where is starts to get cartoon-like or we get some surreal post-post modern version of ‘Fantasy Island’ where Tattoo tells Mr. Rourke about ‘the fan, the fan’. Magilla Gorilla rocks in the pet shop window. Wile E. Coyote never had such a botched plan to capture his tasty little Roadrunner. Never mind that the Roadrunner probably was ACME’s major shareholder.

VIP packages!

The other week I read that for $350, you can watch a Justin Bieber soundcheck. Um, first of all, who is Justin Bieber? I’m not 12 and I had to look him up. I am so out of touch with who’s hot for the teenage crowd. For $1300, you can keep your chair from the Bon Jovi concert.  For $1300, I can spend a week in Mexico, drinks included. Or get a very nice pair of Louboutin stilettos. What would I do with a chair? How would I get it home?At least if you spent $800 on a photo with Christina Aguilera, you at least got to meet her.  So, what exactly does a VIP package include? I’ve gathered that it’s a ‘decent’ seat that isn’t in the nosebleed section; a bag of cheap, useless swag; and the lightening of your wallet. No contact with the ‘band’ or ‘star’. Amazing. Who in their right mind would do this? I’d rather spend $10 on the CD or download.

So, is it any wonder that I don’t go to many concerts any more?

Someone who has maybe 60 minutes’ worth of material is not worth $200. Get over yourself. Come back when you have two hours’ worth and a pretty solid career. I’ll watch your video on YouTube. I passed on U2 this summer because I couldn’t justify $300 for a crappy seat at an outdoor show – which was ultimately cancelled.

I am also not a walking ATM. Rich or poor, your fans are your fans and all should be treated equally.  Someone spends $1000 to meet you? Great. It’s part of your job. Give that money to your charity. You meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down. Your fans build you up, your fans take you down. Treat them right.

Put the music before the money. Yeah, your passion. Interesting concept. Make me, the fan, feel special. It’s about the music, isn’t it? Isn’t it? Or isn’t it. Or is it just selling out to the highest bidder? Who is being played to? The fans? Those with the deepest pockets? Play, playing, being played.

Don’t tour when everyone else is. It’s summer and everyone is touring. The audience only has so many disposable dollars and can’t see *everyone*. Try late fall. Winter too.

Stop the scalpers and scalping. But that’s the dirty little mirror that justifies the money-grubbing on every side.  Put people’s names on tickets, cut out the presales, the members only offers, prohibit ticket reselling. You can’t go to the show? Return the ticket. No exceptions.

Imagine what it’ll be like to be a sell out instead of a sell-out. Interesting idea, non?


~ by hooklineandthinker on June 14, 2010.

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