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westcott

Has Big Business Killed the Concert Experience!

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Well, I wanted to get this topic off my chest. I do not go to concerts much any more, but when I was a youngster, it was always a big part of my life. Nothing like a live event to truly apreciate the sound of good music.

My wife and I had heard that Rush was coming to town in August to an open air venue called the Cynthia Woods Pavilion. If you have ever been to Houston in August, you know that you do not want to be sitting in the sun or be without air conditioning for very long. Keeping this in mind, we started to make plans to purchase tickets as soon as they went "officially" on sale. I started poking around and found tickets were already being sold by TicketMaster and on eBay. Since there are only a small fraction of assigned seating under the pavillion, I was shocked to see tickets for sale before the official release date and what was being asked for a sales price. I found some pit tickets and some were asking $1500 per ticket!!!!

I did some further digging and have come to realize that large companies like Amercian Express and radio stations have already bought large blocks of tickets before any one else even has a chance at these tickets. We were not deterred and got on line several minutes before the "official" sales time of 10am central with our credit card information already entered into the system. Using a 10Mbps modem, we entered the site and waited for our tickets. 4 minutes after we logged on and waited our turn, the computer returns a response, "All reserved seating is SOLD OUT!" 4 minutes!!!!!

It seems that Amercian Express and others are able to reserve tickets for events long before they "officially" go on sale. Now, you will pay a premium, just like you would at TicketMasters. Now, I have to admit, I have been the beneficiary of the Titanium\Platinum Amercian Express Card event services when I sent my wife to see Barbara Streisand to Altanta for one of her rare live appearances. But, I would not spend that kind of money to see a band like Rush in an outside venue in the middle of summer in Houston!!! What were these people thinking?

Has big business ruined the concert experience? How is the average working stiff supposed to enjoy a concert at these incredible prices? I see no difference between price gouging and scalping as this practive of selling tickets to big business long before they are available to the general public. I guess the good old days are gone and I hate to see that it is almost impossible to see a live concert event (or any live event) without mortgaging the family farm. How does a family go to an event now adays? Are the performers to blame for getting payed exhorbetent salaries? Are the performers to blame for agreeing to play any venue that will have them, no matter how bad that venue is for the audio quality or the comfort of their patrons? And why is it illegal to sell tickets on the performance steps but preselling tickets to big business so that future customers can be gouged is not? How are kids today supposed to participate in concert events?

It is a sad day and I, for one, think that selling tickets to big business before event tickets go on sale to the general public should be put to an end.

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That's a shame. I really enjoyed going to concerts when I was a teenager. My kids can not experience that, because of the high cost. It is not worth paying that much to sit so far away from the stage.

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Yes.

I paid $9.50 to see the Zeppelin in 1977. Say no more.

I just buy the DVD and stay at home anymore, don't have beer spilled on me (by others) or come home smelling like funny smoke.

M

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Oh Oh, another Big Business Thread..............Going to Concerts in the 70's was more for the PARTY than anything else, and there were more Concerts to see then. Even $10.00 to see ZEP,at that time, was expensive, but what's ten bucks............It's very expensive to go to a show now, but what isn't expensive.......been grocery shopping lately, buy gas for your car, list price on CD's $20.00, it goes on and on, so why wouldn't ticket prices rise? As long as people pay, the prices will increase.............If you want it, You Pay.........I don't like it, but that's the way it is.........EH !!!!!!

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Oh Oh, another Big Business Thread..............Going to Concerts in the 70's was more for the PARTY than anything else, and there were more Concerts to see then. Even $10.00 to see ZEP,at that time, was expensive, but what's ten bucks............It's very expensive to go to a show now, but what isn't expensive.......been grocery shopping lately, buy gas for your car, list price on CD's $20.00, it goes on and on, so why wouldn't ticket prices rise? As long as people pay, the prices will increase.............If you want it, You Pay.........I don't like it, but that's the way it is.........EH !!!!!!

I have no problem paying "list price" for the tickets. It is when big business buys the tickets ahead of time, before the general public has access to them and then marks them up a minimum of 300% over the already $90 dollar "sales price". Let me have an equal chance of buying tickets, and I would not be writing this. Gas and food prices may have gone up 10 or 12 fold in the same time frame, tickets are up 30 fold with the profits not going to the artists or the venue, but scalpers clothed in legal middlemen business suits!

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Oh Oh, another Big Business Thread..............Going to Concerts in the 70's was more for the PARTY than anything else, and there were more Concerts to see then. Even $10.00 to see ZEP,at that time, was expensive, but what's ten bucks............It's very expensive to go to a show now, but what isn't expensive.......been grocery shopping lately, buy gas for your car, list price on CD's $20.00, it goes on and on, so why wouldn't ticket prices rise? As long as people pay, the prices will increase.............If you want it, You Pay.........I don't like it, but that's the way it is.........EH !!!!!!

I have no problem paying "list price" for the tickets. It is when big business buys the tickets ahead of time, before the general public has access to them and then marks them up a minimum of 300% over the already $90 dollar "sales price". Let me have an equal chance of buying tickets, and I would not be writing this. Gas and food prices may have gone up 10 or 12 fold in the same time frame, tickets are up 30 fold with the profits not going to the artists or the venue, but scalpers clothed in legal middlemen business suits!

AGREED.......................Like tickets to Sporting Events......Big Blocks of Tickets to LEGAL Scalpers..........

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Either big biz or the rednecks,it ain't what it used to be.

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Either big biz or the rednecks,it ain't what it used to be.

Hey....I resemble that remark! Umm, the redneck part....

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Concerts are not what they used to be, that's for sure. The only shows I really see now are very small venues, or James Taylor, etc.

My last three concerts.

Dawg - David Grisman /Old School Freight Train ...$400 for tickets, lodging, food, booze, and gas

James Taylor - $600 2 tickets, limo, lodging, food, booze, & gas

P Diddy - $5,000 1 ticket, hookers, lodging, cuvasiea, gold tooth, cheese....(just kidding)

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It is only getting worse. I have completely given up on the large venue concerts. It is complete garbage. If I use the same practice that big biz uses, I get arrested.

I read an article in Rolling Stone today that really pissed me off. Bands are now charging fans for fan club memberships with promise of getting first crack at tickets. People are paying $100 for memberships for two things: early concert tickets and freaking message board access. After the big biz reserved tickets, there is nothing left. The fans go on and get crappy seats while others get nothing. The article said that The Police, Genesis, The Stones, and a few others. Completely pathetic and greedy.

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P Diddy - $5,000 1 ticket, hookers, lodging, cuvasiea, gold tooth, cheese....(just kidding)

That's funny Phil. Maybe Don Imus can use it on his last show, lol.

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Concerts are not what they used to be, that's for sure. The only shows I really see now are very small venues, or James Taylor, etc.

The last "big venue" concert that I went was when Rush played at the Nissan Pavilian a few years ago. I was going to go to the Rush concert this year, but they are playing on that same day that I plan on being in Indianapolis for the "Pilgramige" I guess the only other "big venue" concert that I've been to was Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Richmond Coliseum, but it seems that you can still get crack at those tickets (I got 5th row seats for last year). Helps to sign up on Trans-Siberian Orchestra's fan-mail list, as they'll send you an e-mail to get pre-sale tickets.

Where I've been seeing most of my live shows? This great little club just north of here called Jaxx! I've seen numerous shows there (the last one was House of Lords in January). I can't count how many times that I've ended up sharing drinks with many of these artists after the show. Awesome that many of them hang around afterwards to just shoot the breeze with anyone that cares and to have a drink or two. Just running through the shows, I can see several that I am already planning on going! Lacuna Coil, Symphony X, Nightwish. Sonata Arctica, Dora, Kamelot, Edguy, just to name a few! I love that place! And the most I've ever spent on a ticket was $35 to see Spock's Beard last May.

My last three concerts.

Dawg - David Grisman /Old School Freight Train ...$400 for tickets, lodging, food, booze, and gas

James Taylor - $600 2 tickets, limo, lodging, food, booze, & gas

P Diddy - $5,000 1 ticket, hookers, lodging, cuvasiea, gold tooth, cheese....(just kidding)

Some of my recent concerts!

ProgPower VII - Atlanta - $600+ for flight, lodging, tickets, food, booze, CD's, etc

BARFest - San Francisco (Coming up in May) - At least $500 - for flight, tickets, food, booze, CD's, etc

Zero Hour back in November at Jaxx - $11,565 ($15 for ticket, $20 for food and drink, $20 for a couple CD's, $10 for gas, $11,500 to get the damn car repaired because of an f'ing thunderstorm and wind that caused me to spin out and wreck on the way home after the damn show!)

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Last "big venue" concert I went to was Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Omaha city arena's Music Hall. Great acoustics, theater seating, and I had a friend who got front row tickets! That was just a short time before the chopper went down, RIP.

The Zoo Bar here in Lincoln is known nation, possibly world-wide for the blues acts that play there. I was at a live recording session for Magic Slim & the Teardrops several years ago. Freakin' hole in the wall bar, about 25 feet wide and maybe 70 feet long, you have to squeeze through the dance floor and shuffle past the edge of the stage to get to the restroom. Unbelievable band drawing power though. Struck up a conversation with a native of San Francisco when I was visiting out there, he asked where I was from, and when I told him, he said, "Hey, that's where the Zoo bar is, right?"

I'm too lazy to drive to Kansas City, Des Moines or Ames, so I just don't go to big shows anymore, plus the expense is a big turnoff.

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It's always been all about the money, to a degree.  In the seventies the money was folks lining up with their ten to twenty bucks, standing in line hours ahead of time, after finding out about the concert in the local papers or local radio stations.  In 07 there is a global economy, internet, cable, satellite, cell phones, with advertising exploiting each to their fullest advantage, marketing to a much more mobile and affluent society.  As always with supply and demand, pricing will be what the market will bear.  And its a big market now.  The notable exception has been country music, where some artists/promoters have chosen very delliberately to continue to hold ticket prices for their core base.  As a result, in many ways Country concerts in this decade have become what Rock concerts were in decades past.


In both eras, concerts have been marketed to the demographic targeted within the reach of that promotion.  Communications in this era however have - literally- virtually destroyed conventional geographic economic barriers and boundaries.  

You see the same principle in many areas of business on the net.  A small niche market that would not be viable within a local demographic can have a national or even world-wide reach that brings a viability previously unreachable. (In example, how much trouble is it to locate a used Klipschorn now? Could you have done so as easily in your local market only even a decade ago? In rural Montana?)

Development of communication networks has been simultaneously paralleled by the development of overnight and just-in-time logistics and delivery networks, with a similar collapse of previous geographic and time barriers. Development of the communications and logistics networks have catalytically fueled each other.  One practical restraint that still remains and limits some product distribution is whether the product can be economically shipped due to size or weight. (Once you find that set of used Klipschorns or RF83's, can they be affordably shipped?)

So concerts are a sort of collateral damage of the convergence of these dynamics.  Another casualty is creativity.  As marketing has become more and more the domain of really big business, artists on the edge of the envelope from which new ideas and genres typically emerge, are commercially marginalized instead of celebrated. They don't conform to the business model that is structured to minimize risk.

One thing I have observed in both eras is this: for every commercially viable band or artist, there are hundreds if not thousands of artists and musicians that are equally talented, but haven't been able to reach a threshold of commercial viability necessary to give widespread distribution to their creativity and talent. 

Some musicians I know here are exploiting technology to their advantage.  I was surprised to learn that many now do virtual "studio" work on a contract or consulting basis.  A producer may even solicit a number of musicians for their particular interpretation, or a number of interpretations from the same artist, and chose from among them. Communication from the control room to the studio can now be via CD/DVD mailing, internet, or even wireless.

I believe that the next frontier for the music industry (visual media too) is to successfully apply the principles observed in the distribution of niche physical product to the distribution of musical creativity.  Sort of a MySpace meets iTunes network.  All of a sudden that Rap-Country-Polka fusion band (unplugged) that flounders locally, with a world-wide reach becomes economically viable.  When this happens there will be opportunity for it to be less about the money and more about the music again.

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Either big biz or the rednecks,it ain't what it used to be.


Especially when you have rednecks in big business.  


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I agree 100%. I amprobably one of the biggest Eagles fans in the world and unfortunatley, they broke up years earlier than my fanship had started. I was delighted to see that they would be passing through Montreal on their Farewell I tour and decided even at 150$ a seat that it was not an option to miss the chanace to see the boys probably for the first and last time in my life. Tickets were "legally" due on sale that following Friday so my wife and I decided to go to the Bell Centre in Montreal on the Thursday almost a full 24 hours before to get in line. Much to my surprise there wasn't a soul there yet!! Not like the 70's when people would camp out for days before, irregardless of the cold Montreal weather. We had alternated shifts as people began to show up later that afternoon in anticipation of having the best seats in the house. Well, some 24 hours later, the ticket window finally opens and for the first time in my life I am finally the first guy in the line. 9. am and the door swings open. I walk the 20 feet to the counter and ask for the closest available to the stage. She punches in a few keys and come back and says the best I have left is 3rd row section 217 which is at the furthest spot facing the stage some 30 rows up in the cheap red seats!!!!! I was in disbelief but grab those because every second that went by a nother set had disappered from the screen.HOw could this be. I was first in line at the hosting venue. I was so outraged that after purchasing my nosebleed seats I found the operations managers office and decided to file a formal complaint only to be told that there was nothing they could do about it as most seats are PRE-PURCHASED by event staff management radio staions and corporate clients many whom I am sure have never even heard of the Eagles let alone be able to tell you band members names, history, discographies, lyrics to every song and even most of the sheet music by heart. Isn't it a crying shame that a true fan cannot even get to see his favorite band due to some corporate C.E.O. getting his secretary to call and "make arrangements" to see you know"that band that is coming that sings the songs from "hotel something or other" so he can bring is 20 year old bimbo mistress to sit in the front row and hang off his arms like a cheap suit, only to leave after the 5th song to go clubbing with the "in crowd". Yes Big business IS killing the concert experience!

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Northern Exposure,

I am sorry that you fell victim to the "big business" practice.

I would have been outraged too. At least I did not have to wait in a Shanuk wind for 24 hours to find out what you did.

I think some people are missing the point and your example is perfect. You can be first in line but BB has already bought the good seats. This is not supply and demand economics as others seem to think. This is prejudice business practices that allow middlemen to purchase tickets before the general public. I think most of us agree that we have no problem paying the "retail" prices listed by the venue and that is why you were willing to sit in line 24 hours in advance.

But, if you wanted a front row center seat, as you should have been able to purchase, being first in line, will cost you up to ten times as much from BB scalpers.

I hold the bands as much to blame as the venues. After all, all of them are a part of the process. Their would be no concert without the consent of the artists. Their would be no BB scalpers if the venues did not pre sell tickets to them at a higher margin.

I also am disappointed that bands agree to some of these outdoor venues so they can sell more tickets. It does not matter that the acoustics suck and most people can not even see the stage.

I am fortunate enought that I have seen most of the 70's and 80's big rock bands when I was young. It would be nice to see them again but this whole process has turned me off. I too will be renting concert DVD's and staying at home. I just have this altruistic streak in me that hopes that the youth of today could experience live performances the way I did when I was their age. It could very possibly change the MP3 mentallity of youth today if they could experience concerts the way they were meant to be experienced.

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Folks should be be checking out the Granada Theater in Dallas!

Average max ticket is $35 and the sound is great! And the seating is nice as well.

(I am still in morning over the closure of the Caravan of Dreams! [:'(])

Who wants to go to an auditorium or stadium and sit on the floor or ground in the middle of 30.000 kids and other idiots with gorilla seating? And if you are really lucky it is in the summer sun! Or rain!

It wasn't fun when we were paid to work those shows!

You should be thanking 'big business' for saving your posterior from those events!

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