ticket prices topping out?

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Sugarcubes Forever
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ticket prices topping out?

Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:31 am

Have concert ticket prices maxed out? Having just paid $250 for crap seats for Lady Ga Ga at the Staples Center, I can say that I hope so. Did you know in 1966 you could get a choice seat to see the Beatles for $5 ($37 in 2010 money)?

There's an interesting piece on the economy of ticket sales over at Music Think Tank:

But the upward price trend can’t go on forever. Once you hit a certain price point you’ve soaked up the excess demand and now your good (concerts) is subject to more competitive alternatives for entertainment (i.e. movies, video games, booze).

The chart suggests that we’ve reached that price point. In 2008 (during a raging recession) average ticket prices jumped at its highest rate in the decade to $67. Gross box office revenue set a record of $4.2B. But that was actually a softer revenue figure than the trend line - if you follow the line, at that price revenue should have been closer to $5B. But it wasn’t - demand fell at that price.

In 2009 ticket prices declined (and for the first time) but the industry had its best year ever with $4.6B in box office revenue and a record numbers of tickets sold, even better than what the trend suggested would be the case.

In 2010 the industry experienced a well documented decline. But looking at the graph the year 2010 looks like it is falling into line with the past years. What I gather from this is that the concert industry as a whole cannot depend on continued price increases for tickets to grow the industry. Once we get past the $60 mark for average ticket prices, you will start to see more unpredictable results than the world when tickets were safely underpriced. We saw that this year with discounting after on-sale, excessive papering, and cancels - all things that have toxic effects for the industry as a whole.


I remember seeing Kiss for $12 in 1985. I think that in 1990 or 1991 I bought tickets to see the Cure (very good seats too) for about $29. I used to hit 6-10 major shows per year up until about 10 years ago. I've pretty much given up on seeing live arena/stadium acts because of ticket prices. While my Ga Ga ticket purchase was a gift for a family member, I won't be forking over that type of cash anymore.

While I agree that the music industry does need to focus more on using lives shows to drive revenue, I think they're shooting themselves in the foot right now. Under the old model, live shows used to support music sales. People would drag their friends along to see bands at arenas and they'd go home and buy a CD. If you take away radio and price most kids out of the concert market.....who the hell is going to want to buy any music at all? What's the method of prodding kids to buy music at all.

For that matter, how much of a $100 ticket ever makes it back to the band?

Here's an interview of the Godfather touching both on the "decline" of live tours and the stupidity of pricing digital music.

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Sugarcubes Forever
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Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:39 am

Link for the article above...

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/the- ... iling.html

(The ads on the right side of the screen are bleeding into the post and blocking the "edit" button)

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Postby Jake » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:02 am

Hey, were those $250 Gaga tickets face value or through a broker? Because that's insane.

There's a great Mike Watt quote in the Minutemen chapter of Our Band Could Be Your Life where Watt points out that for non-mainstream bands, the shows were always where it was at:

We had divided the whole world into two categories: there was flyers and there was the gig. You're either doing the gig, which is like one hour of your life, or everything else to get people to the gig. Interviews were flyers, videos were flyers, even records were flyers. We didn't tour to promote records, we made records to promote the tours, because the gig was where you could make the money.

And because they always jammed econo, Minutemen tours always turned a profit.

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Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:39 am

Jake wrote:Hey, were those $250 Gaga tickets face value or through a broker? Because that's insane.

There's a great Mike Watt quote in the Minutemen chapter of Our Band Could Be Your Life where Watt points out that for non-mainstream bands, the shows were always where it was at:

We had divided the whole world into two categories: there was flyers and there was the gig. You're either doing the gig, which is like one hour of your life, or everything else to get people to the gig. Interviews were flyers, videos were flyers, even records were flyers. We didn't tour to promote records, we made records to promote the tours, because the gig was where you could make the money.

And because they always jammed econo, Minutemen tours always turned a profit.


The Ga Ga tixs were through face value, plus the insane fees they added on. All the GA tickets were gone and I was buying late so I had to "buy up." Ga Ga tix for the Bland Crapids show sold out in a matter of hours, but the secondary market tixs are in good supply. The cheapest I've seen crappy seats online is about $150 each (before add on fees).


Living right next door to a busy arena in a medium sized market, what I'm seeing as opposed to 10 years ago is a huge shift in the concerts that are booked here. This year it's acts like Ga Ga, Kid Rock, Keith Urban. And not much else. 10 years ago I was hitting a dozen shows per year there. Yeah, some of them were crap (like Cher, because I got free tickets). But I remember big tours in the late 90s that included bands like Chemical Bros, Deftones, Manson, Korn, Smashing Pumpkins , etc. etc. While some of them were big sellers, others were still considered "college rock."

What seems to be happening today is that ticket prices have been pushed to their maximum. But the only acts that Ticketmaster and Livenation can charge that for are the small number of chart toppers. So all the "new music" shows have dried up....they're gone.

In an environment where the industry milks the public for access to a handful of acts and has stopped investing in newer music, where the hell does the industry expect to get new music to sell in the future?

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Postby D. Phillips » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:59 pm

They will top out when people stop paying $250 for shit seats. This really is the simplest of economic equations.

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Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:13 pm

D. Phillips wrote:They will top out when people stop paying $250 for shit seats. This really is the simplest of economic equations.


It won't end.

As long as there are middle aged people with money, their willingness to pay $100-$300 per person for a show will dictate what Ticketmaster prices tickets at.

The industry doesn't care if kids can't get to the concert. All they see is full seats and tickets sold. This is a pure price/market issue.

There will be a point where the industry runs out of Oldies Acts. They'll have no significant new tallent to replace them. When Paul McCartney is dead and Cher is in hospice, there won't be anybody except a handful of country stars and next decade's Ga Ga to book tours for.

I think Corgan is right. Forget about making any money on music sales. Charge $0.25 per son or give it away. Market the free bee as a way to connect with potential fans, then design a tour around the kids (priced right), so that in the future you'll have them to go to the oldies shows.

Music companies need to think about their customers the way that beverage companies do. You get them young and they'll identify with that soda (or music) for the rest of their lives.

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Postby steve-o » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:50 pm

Wait, back up a minute- you paid for $250 to see Lady Gaga? I mean, if you want, you can just come over to my apartment and listen to my cat wailing along to a dance beat, and I won't even charge you $100 for that.

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Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:05 pm

steve-o wrote:Wait, back up a minute- you paid for $250 to see Lady Gaga? I mean, if you want, you can just come over to my apartment and listen to my cat wailing along to a dance beat, and I won't even charge you $100 for that.


I bought them as a gift to my sister in law and her girl friend. I'm not going to the show.

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Postby miss carol » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:17 pm

Steve-o, that's awesome.

As for tix sales, I thought that horse was long dead; must be a zombie horse we're flogging now. Neverthless, the buyer isn't necessarily the goer---kids get their folks to buy them tickets (albeit using a supplementary credit card no one can afford). But not always, of course. I think Corban raised a valid point too (thanks for that post, Sugarcubes): the arenas (not rooms, btw) host fewer shows per year in-between sporting events. So they feel the need to charge more. (Notice I didn't have "have to" because they probably make buckets of money on sports attendence.) Also, you're right in assuming that "oldies" acts won't die off; well, they will, but they'll be replaced by new oldies and new middle-age people who want to see if Ga Ga still has it ---or some facilimile thereof.

Oh, and as for the Minutemen, of course they made money. They kept their overhead down. Basic economics for a small business. (Too bad my old boss didn't know this and let us work from home instead for paying inflated rent for half-used office rent. Dumbass.)

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Postby D. Phillips » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:25 pm

[quote="Sugarcubes Forever"][/quote]

That's precisely my point. I think it's odd to complain about ticket prices and yet still pay top dollar. As long as people (you, me, whomever) pay the top price it will climb higher. I simply cannot fathom paying $250 per ticket to see anyone, especially in a stadium setting.

I know that my $50 limit is very low compared to what most people will pay but I like good old fashioned rock in roll in bars and clubs and I have never had to pay $50 to see that. As such, I rarely if ever complain about the cost of concerts today. It's not my world, I don't participate.


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