The Concert Price Blues

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Is there a 12 bar Delta bluesman in the house?
Yes I got on my computer
Price was more than I wanted to pay
Yes I got on my computer
Price was more than I wanted to pay
If the cost wasn’t high enough
Just wait til Ticketmaster had their say
My concert calendar for 2012 is, at best, disspiriting.  This is largely due to the lack of appeal in the acts announced to date at the smaller Atlanta venues.  Big names, though are seeking my cash.

I bought tickets for Roger Waters (Pink Floyd bassist, lyricist, and co-vocalist) a couple months ago, for a show that will not occur until June.   The listed price was $79.00, which is sufficiently high.  For that, I could buy all of his solo releases on CD.  And, to boot, I’ve already seen this show in 2010, a complete rendition of Pink Floyd’s classic, The Wall.  The show had very high production values, and it doesn’t translate to a souvenir DVD.   The presentation is arena wide, and a spectacle.  In short, it’s worth $79 to see it again – it’s more of a performance than a concert.

Right, add $11.90 in Ticketmaster fees, and I’m close enough to a $100 that I originally decided to pass.  Add gas, parking fees near our less than ideal downtown arena, and possibly a meal… and even when splitting some costs with a  concert buddy, I’m looking at $115.

I seriously doubt the now notorious “1%” bother with rock concerts.  Rock concerts are largely middle class endeavors, because seats have to be filled.  And, $90 is the going rate for a balcony seat roughly opposite the stage in an arena sized to fit roughly 21,000 for a concert.  Ouch!
As I look for other opportunities through the Spring, there are other big name artists coming that for whatever reason I’ve never seen.  Van Halen.  Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.  I would like to see them, but…  Petty – $35 for lawn tickets.  Reasonable, I guess,.  But, add  $11 in fees. Suddenly, it’s basically $50 for a lawn seat. 

There’s no end of blogs or other media who berate Ticketmaster.  I’ve been tempted, and have thrown a few sharp comments in various concert reviews.  But as someone who has, at times, looked for “secondary market” tickets as available seat selections otherwise suck, I’ve noted that for many venues, the same seats tend to be offered regularly through your friendly online ticket scalping services.  It kind of makes you think…

One of the few blogs I read periodically is The Leftsetz Letter, an “insider” music industry blog who intermixes interesting observations with redundant conclusions.  He recently confirmed what I had been thinking, and it’s worth a read to those who are interested.

Basically, Ticketmaster not only pays the venue a kickback, AND the promoter a kickback, but also the artist.  It’s a profit boost for all, and, as a side benefit, Ticketmaster takes the blame for the added profit, and, I can’t help but think, a sleight of hand to dull the pain of the original sticker price.  Nice.   He goes on to comment on “pre-sales,” which are basically a means for artists and promoters to profit where scalpers otherwise would.

Two examples recently arrived in my inbox:

Seminole Hard Rock

Hollywood, FL

Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Presale: Tue, 02.07.12 at 10:00 AM ET


  • Ticket (face value $84)
  • Merchandise package (messenger bag, travel mug, pin, and keychain - contents subject to change)
  • Backstage/onstage tour with On Stage Photo in front of Graeme's drum kit - (Please Note: This is NOT a meet and greet with the band, just a tour of the stage area)
  • Early Access to the merchandise booth

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 2012

Sunday, Apr 29 2012 7:30 PM
Alpharetta, Georgia - United States
Dates and times subject to change. All times local unless otherwise noted.
Prices are in US dollars only.

    Premium Ticket Package ($250.00)

    Qty: 01234
    Each Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Premium Ticket Package includes:
    • One reserved ticket within the first 15 rows of the stage in Pit and Orch 2*
    • Specially designed Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers jersey sweatshirt
    • Collectible tour poster (numbered, limited)
    • Exclusive tour tote bag
    • Official set of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers guitar picks
    • Commemorative ticket
    • Commemorative tour laminate
    • Early entry into the venue for crowd-free merchandise shopping
    • On-site event host
    *Exact seat location available at show. Ticket is allocated based on time & date of purchase.
    Package details subject to change without notice.
To be fair, $250 for seats near the front is better than what scalpers charge for major venues, often by quite a lot.  Still, for the artist, promoter or whoever wants to avoid “credit,” the rule is simple.  Add some cheap junk, target core fans, and reap the rewards yourself. 

Go ahead, take that special someone for a total of $500.  And don’t forget to budget parking fees and the meal…

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