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Topic: interesting article on Concert Ticket Prices Return to archive
04-01-02 09:59 AM
Jaxx San Francisco Chronicle
Fans Pay the Piper
Joel Selvin, Chronicle Staff Writer

Broadway theatergoers screamed bloody murder last year over $100 tickets to the hit musical "The Producers." A few blocks down the street, Madison Square Garden fills up two nights for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, top-price ticket $250. In a single weekend, the rock band rakes in $4 million. The $250 rock concert ticket is here to stay.

Madonna raised the bar on last year's "Drowned World" tour, but CSNY and Paul McCartney have followed her lead and barely a peep has been heard from any outraged public, as the shows sold out instantly.

When the Rolling Stones came to the United States in 1969 with a $7.50 ticket price, there was such an outcry that Mick Jagger, appearing at a New York press conference before the U.S. shows even began, blurted out that the Stones planned to throw a free concert in San Francisco at the end of the tour.

That, of course, led to Altamont -- one of the great publicity stunts of the 20th century.

But nobody seems to even blink at the astronomical ticket prices of today's rock superstars, least of all McCartney, whose core audience in the upper demographics would seem able to afford the king's ransom that good seats are going for. "McCamania is rocking America," Brad Wavra, vice president of Clear Channel Touring, told "Nearly 200,000 tickets sold for 14 shows in minutes. McCartney fans have spoken and they've spoken quickly."

The trend started with the 1994 reunion tour by the Eagles, who burst through the $50 ceiling with $75 tickets. Backstage after filming the band's MTV comeback special, Glenn Frey and Don Henley held an impromptu press conference and were immediately asked to justify the record-breaking ticket price.

"If we didn't charge $75," Frey patiently explained, as if what he was saying made sense, "the scalpers would get that anyway."

Out of nowhere, the ghost of Bill Graham invaded the room. The late, great rock concert promoter hated scalpers with a special passion that he reserved for people who were taking what he considered "his" money.

But the three-digit barrier was quickly broken (Barbra Streisand's getting $350 top price for her 1994 farewell tour was either anomalous or prescient).

Currently asking more than a C-note for top-price tickets are acts with audiences as disparate as the Who at Shoreline and Diana Krall in the relative intimacy of the Masonic Auditorium (she, too, plays the Garden in New York). The Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync have also gouged more than a bill out of their youthful fans for prime concert seating.

And then there's the Golden Circle, the front-row center sections reserved for premium prices. These seats have been used as promotions for credit card companies (American Express cardholders get first crack at Paul Simon tickets, for example). But mostly it has been a way for bands and promoters to pick up a few extra bucks from the champagne and caviar crowd. The whole deal has Tom Petty so aggravated he is calling his next album "The Golden Circle."

A hundred bucks is a lot of entertainment dollar -- a dozen movies, six CDs,

five regulation rock shows, a whole lot of food at restaurants -- but a Paul McCartney tour takes place less often than a solar eclipse. And what was it that Irving Berlin said -- everything the traffic will allow?

04-01-02 11:04 AM
Gazza They're all a bunch of greedy out-of-touch bastards - thats the simple explanation...
04-01-02 11:21 AM
TomL Hope there not too high, that will put a damper on all us stone fans. Will cut the number of shows I see. Was planning on at least 6.
04-01-02 05:02 PM
Angiegirl O yeah, this topic gets my blood running hot, I can hardly scream from frustration about the lack of outrage among the public. The problem indeed is that the shows still sell out. Only when people massivly stay away from those gready artists, the protest gets through to the bands. It will hit them in their most vulnerable place: their wallets.
But the problem is that those 'big artists' don't perform that often (also mentioned in the article). Ergo: the fan has the choice between going to see them for a fortune, or staying at home. Most fans will go to the show, despite the expensive tix, because it's better than to not see them. I would do the same. I can't boycot a Stones tour to make a statement, not even if everybody would stay home too, because I could never stand the feeling of regret. So the fans stand with their backs against the wall, we've been manipulated into a corner like dumb puppets before we knew it, and whichever choice we make, we hurt ourselves, wether it is financially or emotionally. What can a poor fan do?

BTW: the article reads: 'And then there's the Golden Circle, the front-row center sections reserved for premium prices.'
Hmm, that's just the States. In Europe it's same price, more room (except in the first few rows) and a beautiful (ahum) wristband...
04-01-02 05:38 PM
Gazza I'm not so sure that the shows will ALWAYS sell out,Angie.

Its only 3 years since the last tour - most people who have wanted to see the band in concert have had the chance to have done so.People might pay those prices once to see an arena show - whether as many would do so again is debatable.

A lot has changed since 1999. The Stones charging those prices in 1999 was a big deal..nowadays lots of "top" artists are jumping on the bandwagon and seeing how far they can push their fanbase. The Stones may well be the biggest tour of 2002,but theres been quite a few other acts who have already put tickets on sale for this year with exorbitant ticket prices - McCartney,CSNY,The Who etc... who knows,by the time the Stones get their act together they might find a lot of people have exhausted their budget for these kind of ticket prices. They might get a rude awakening,who knows? (then again,they might sell by the truckload!!)

I guess different people have different limits to how much they'll pay before they consider that theyre being ripped off..personally speaking,this could be MY own cut-off point. Thankfully (hopefully!) they wouldnt charge those prices over here!
04-02-02 09:08 AM
Cardinal Ximinez Gee, Gazza...I only paid USD$100.00 for a pair of Who tix...I didn't think that was so bad...I can live with $50.00/ticket...But see, I don't go to see many big arena or stadium shows...Dylan twice last year, that was it. Now Bob never charges much...I think I paid $40.00 per show...

Going to a big show is a pain in the ass. I have an extremely short list of bands that I'll shell out $50.00+ to see, and go through the hassel of a big show rigamaroll...

The Stones are one of those bands...I knew this was gonna be expensive, and I've been putting money back to fund this won't be enough, but I won't have to sell off anything either...

The other thing to consider is that the bands get paid the same regardless of ticket prices. The concert promoter says that he'll pay the band $x amount, for x amount of shows. The concert promoter then sets the prices for tickets. So while I agree that the bands can be greedy, they aren't the only ones who are...the promoters are pretty fucking greedy as well...
04-02-02 09:18 AM
Joey "Going to a big show is a pain in the ass. I have an extremely short list of bands that I'll shell out $50.00+ to see, and go through the hassel of a big show rigamaroll... "

McCartney , Stones , The WHO , Dylan , Pink Floyd , Clapton all command top dollar and they get it from us because they put on one Hell of a show .

Johnny Carson once said it best , " Do I really deserve to make fifty million a year ? Yes , because I can get it ."

Well said Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Johnny .

The Joey , C10

Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Joey
04-02-02 04:49 PM
Gazza Cardinal X: $100 for two Who tickets is pretty good,I'll admit - (65 - more than fair!) correct me if I'm wrong,but I read that the going rate for Who tickets was considerably higher this year.

Joey : >McCartney , Stones , The WHO , Dylan , Pink Floyd , Clapton all command top dollar and they get it from us because they put on one Hell of a show .

well...not sure about the rest,Joey but Dylan DOESNT - I think $45 or slightly more was the going rate for his last US tour. I think when he toured with Paul Simon a couple of years ago they were maybe double that,but that was a double header and a one off.

I know where youre comin' from Joey, mate but whether someone puts on "a hell of a show" or even if they are "the best band in the world" is a purely subjective thing (personally speaking,if you asked me I'd say Springsteen & The E Street Band is the best live act in the world - but even though his '99-'00 was second only to the Stones for grosses - Bruce's ticket prices were quite reasonable - AND he didnt use a tour sponsor)

I dont really think we can blame the promoters that much,Cardinal. If the Stones or anyone made a stand with the likes of Michael Cohl or whoever about keeping the prices sensible,then the promoter will have no option to play ball. The fact is,they dont give a fuck and will try and get away with as much as they can - especially in America,where I think their fans REALLY get fingered more than anywhere else. Unfortunately,that greed now seems to be the norm once everyone else saw the Eagles and the Stones could get away with charging people over $100 a seat for a show in a sports arena (and passing it off as an intimate show - even though most folks still need binoculars or a video screen to see anything up close!)

the bottom line is - look what you were paying for arena shows for the top bands, say, five years ago (or even three). Then look what youre gonna be paying in 2002. Even allowing for inflation, I'd still imagine its at least doubled in real terms. I dont begrudge them or anyone their wealth - but a band thats worth around $700 million between them hardly needs the money so badly they have to charge those prices.

Americans should be paying pretty much the same as Europeans - your average income may be higher but surely not by THAT much that you have to pay double what we normally pay for tickets. One of these days the bottom's gonna fall out of this market and some very greedy acts are going to get their fingers badly burned..

04-02-02 05:29 PM
nankerphelge What surprises me is that the bottom hasn't fallen out of the market already. The music industry has complained that CD sales are way off in many markets, and this year's Oscar rating suggest that the public has gotten a bit tired of Hollywood. Some of it might be less disposible $$ for entertainment, but you'd think that would translate to decreased prices -- y'know supply/demand.

I think a big part of it is staying power -- as long as they command the top dollar, they have power at the bargaining table. Sure it would be nice if the STones cut prices, all us fans would love it. But when its time to negotiate the next contract, wouldn't you want to look across the table and tell the other side that you can still sell 30K tickets at an average price of $100 per at age 60?

I would.
04-02-02 05:49 PM
Joey "But when its time to negotiate the next contract, wouldn't you want to look across the table and tell the other side that you can still sell 30K tickets at an average price of $100 per at age 60? "

Paul McCartney turns sixty on June 12th and MaccaMania is absolutely sweeping the country . Check out for a complete listing of all of his sellouts .........three in Chicago alone . Unbelievable .

That Heather Mills is really keeping him spry !!!!!

" Heather Me Ronnie '

Joey , C10

04-02-02 05:53 PM
Gazza She would like to nuzzle you,Joey......
04-02-02 06:07 PM
Joey And I would like to paw that artifical leg of hers .


Joey , C10

04-02-02 06:10 PM
Cardinal Ximinez Yeah, Gazza, I agree with you. But my point was that the artists weren't the ONLY culpable figures behind the ticket prices being so outrageous.

But bands like the Stones will NEVER get burned...they get their tour money up front, and guaranteed. Merch. is all bonus. Bruce is willing to take a chance by doing his own thing, without a sponsor...I don't think the Stones are willing to leave ANYTHING to chance

And again, you're right that MOST bands don't give a shit about the fans. There are notable exceptions...Bowie has been known to make sure that his tour followers get enough to eat, and has even rented hotel rooms for fans hanging around his hotel...Tom Petty has given out "free passes" to entire tours, for fans that he knew couldn't really afford to be following him around...And the Stones? Well, Bill did his part to make sure that some of the girls who followed the band had a place to stay for an hour or so....LOL!
04-02-02 06:36 PM
Angiegirl Ok, it's also the promotors who rip us off, but the fact is we get ripped off. And not only tickets, also the prices of consumptions inside stadions have risen awfully -I know that's not the band's or the promotor's fault- and you can't bring your own stuff inside. Ok, that's the true Dutch spirit! LOL.

And Gazza, in Europe the lunacy is less than in the US, but here in Holland for example the prices for concerts have gotten much, much higher too over the past 2 years (maybe bacause the Dutch promotion firm was recently taken over by an American one???), it was almost sudden, even for 'smaller' bands. $45-50 a standard ticket is normal now, bottom price. I will be going to the Pinkpop festival next May here in Holland, it's 2.5 days of music (Kravitz, Heather Nova, Live, Bush, Faithless, Rammstein, Muse, System of a down and lots more). The ticket, including campside is $150 and considering what you spend on very expensive drinks and food and travelling, the weekend will cost me at least $250. With this I mean to say it's the whole package that will be undoable if the trend continues. Maybe I'm moaning, but I hate the feeling of powerlessness. We're being screwed, even if the band has its big-named sponsors.

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