What if they put on a concert and nobody came?
July 16, 2002 7:09 AM   Subscribe

What if they put on a concert and nobody came? Its not sales of recorded music that are in the shitter. Now it turns out that live concert ticket sales are in freefall as well (Lets see Hillary try and blame that on MP3s!) The Clearchannel effect has been discussed here several times, but the concert promotion industry's trade paper, Pollstar, reports that sales are down 10% from last year and assigns the blame squarely on ever higher ticket prices: The average ticket cost across McCartney's recent 29 city US tour was $129.50 !!! CSNY had a tour average of $80. I've always preferred small venue acts, but even those have gotten pricey. I just saw Jorma in a 50 person coffeehouse and the tix were $35. (Coffee not included) So I ask the sizable MeFi musical appreciation crowd: Are you seeing less live music because of the cost?
posted by BentPenguin (55 comments total)
I saw in the paper today that McCartney made $30m from his recent tour. That's a serious ammount of money.

Me personally, I have difficulty paying £20 for live music, but I go to see lots of �£5 gigs on a whim.
posted by nedrichards at 7:14 AM on July 16, 2002

With the choice of seeing Sonic Youth in New York's Central Park for free, or for 20 ducats the night before in Philly, I think I will pay to see them there. I would rather be guaranteed to have a decent view than gamble with having to watch from afar in a park (but I may trek up anyhow). I can't see myself spending any more than that, though.
posted by adampsyche at 7:17 AM on July 16, 2002

Maybe....just maybe, the music isn't as good as it was...I'm a DJ in and around London, and club attendances are heavily down....vinyl record sales are also down in record shops...and consequently (I presume) the number of new releases is down...specifically in the dance arena, but also across the board.

Maybe this is the thing that is affecting live music...people aren't making good stuff or putting on good shows quite as much....
posted by mattr at 7:23 AM on July 16, 2002

If anything, I see more shows by local groups than I do by national acts. For about $20, you can see a few live bands, have a couple drinks, meet people and support your local music scene.

Does it get any better than that?
posted by ikareru at 7:25 AM on July 16, 2002

I was one of the schmucks who paid to see McCartney earlier this year, and I do not regret it. Yes, concerts are expensive, but what's worse is that the bands I like aren't currently touring, and when they do, they usually have only one show in the NYC area, and it's usually very expensive when compared to prices for shows by the same act in say Kansas.
posted by riffola at 7:28 AM on July 16, 2002

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is coming to my town in November. I would love to see the Boss again, but if ticket prices are above $50 (and I know they will be I fear), I can't justify it. I've worked in the live production industry in the past, and I know tours cost beaucoup bucks, but can they expect the average fan, especially those working-class folks that Springsteen has always appealed to, to afford these elevated prices? Sounds like inflation hit this industry extra hard, or maybe it's just greed. By the way, I can't find ticket prices online just yet.
posted by cowboy at 7:29 AM on July 16, 2002

there are a few people that i would pay a lot of money to see (if i was guaranteed a good seat). but usually, i won't pay more than $20 to $30 because the show is just not worth it. when i pay to see someone live, i want something more (or at least different) than what i can get on the cd. unfortunately, many groups don't seem to know the art of performing.
posted by witchstone at 7:43 AM on July 16, 2002

I don't go to concerts because it's usually too much of a hassle, and with the ticketmaster monopoly, you don't know what you're getting, even if you're the first person in line. Excuse me for not paying $40 for nosebleed seats at the Eric Clapton concert, just so I can hear him play Layla.

Add to the ticket cost the sometimes in excess of two-hour drive to and from, the cost of concessions, etc. It's no wonder.

On the flip side, bring me groups such as the Moody Blues playing with the (insert name of large city here) symphony orchestra, and it magically becomes worth the price and hassle. Or Pink Floyd, just because they're Pink Floyd.
posted by schlaager at 7:45 AM on July 16, 2002

Alot of the groups/artists that are charging obscene amounts of money (Rollingstones, im looking in your direction), aren't even on my radar. I just don't care about seeing them. McCartney either.

I am paying $40 to see Tool in a couple weeks. Most of the bands I see here in Austin are local or small club things. I definately prefer seeing a band in a club-type atmosphere to an arena.
posted by jbelshaw at 7:50 AM on July 16, 2002

Are you seeing less live music because of the cost?

Yes. However, I agree with schlaager, some groups, like Pink Floyd, are worth it.

I didn't see The Who when they came through Denver a couple years ago, mostly because of price. I was probably going to pass on their latest tour, but now that John passed away, I might try to go.

Lots of times shows here are under-booked, and people "in the know" can score free tickets, available just before the show starts. A friend of mine has seen several free shows this way.

Ticket prices are high, but people pay them anyway.
posted by jazon at 7:50 AM on July 16, 2002

Ticket sales are down 10% from last year and that is considered free fall?

I remember riding Freefall at Great Adventure when I was kid. THAT was something.
posted by szg8 at 7:55 AM on July 16, 2002

Ticket prices are becoming prohibitively expensive whether it is concerts or sporting events. I haven't gone to a baseball, football, hockey, or basketball game in years :( I have been a few concerts which I paid $20-$35 worth. Anything more than that it isn't really worth it to me.
posted by LinemanBear at 7:56 AM on July 16, 2002

1977. Led Zepplin. Eight dollars.

posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:58 AM on July 16, 2002

I go to a show a week, on average, but the prices aren't bad because I generally only go to clubs. The best venue in Minneapolis (i.e., First Avenue) gives away complimentary tickets to a lot of its shows, so I can go weeks at a time without paying a cover. There's a lot of great music out there; it just doesn't have much to do with the radio or the big concert venues.
posted by subgenius at 8:00 AM on July 16, 2002

I'd like to point out that Dave Matthews Band's ticket prices have never gone over $50, whether you sit on the lawn or in the orchestra section. Despite this, they were the 4th highest-earning musical act in the world last year.
posted by waldo at 8:01 AM on July 16, 2002

I've sometimes paid up to $300 for concert tickets from "resellers." But it was always for a show that I really, really wanted to see and I wanted kickass seats. I don't know if that makes me a part of the problem or not...

Along the lines of Jazon's comment, if you're willing to risk missing the show then sometimes if you show up right before the show starts you can still get seats. Sometimes pretty good ones. I once got a front row seat for showing up 20 minutes before showtime.
posted by Cyrano at 8:03 AM on July 16, 2002

Yes, concert prices for big-ticket acts are absurd...as are the prices at those same events for cokes, water and I'm assuming, beer. (Rumor has it that the pale yellow swill in plastic cups is beer...but I don't believe it.)

I'll still go see up and coming acts or fave touring acts in clubs and whatnot, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay $200.00 for a night of music in a big venue. Last show I bought tickets for was a Santana show, covered seating was $75.00 per seat, (yard seats were about $50 I think), plus Ticketmasters fees, plus parking fees, plus drinks...and by the end the night was well over $200.00. Screw that nonsense. I can buy the entire Santana CD collection for less than that. (And he's a god, don't get me wrong, but even our pricey tickets weren't close enough to actually see him play.)

Also, I think I've just gotten old enough that the entire concert concept has become too much of a hassle. It's hot, it's sticky, it's at least an hour in traffic trying to get into the venue, there are drunk teens trying to climb over you to get to the stage, it smells bad, the personnel are rude, the bathrooms are disgusting...so it occurs to me that at some stage, you just get too old for that crap. :)

That being said, I spent the entire 80's and 90's seeing some incredible bands and I'm really glad I had the experience...but now, I think it's time to yield the field to the next generation of concert kids. :)
posted by dejah420 at 8:05 AM on July 16, 2002

I just saw Neko Case for a whopping 8 dollars about 5 nights ago and it was one of the best concerts that I've been to in a long time. I'm seeing Wilco in about two weeks (ticket cost 20 dollars) and then a couple weeks after that see Modest Mouse for 15 dollars (and I live in Lincoln, Nebraska). There are amazing shows just about everywhere for 20 dollars or less.
posted by almostcool at 8:05 AM on July 16, 2002

Support your local musicians! Buy their CD's! Spend money in local establishments that present live music!
posted by tommasz at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2002

1977. Led Zeppelin. Eight dollars.

Sob is right.
posted by a3matrix at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2002

Hell, in 1977 you could pay rent with $8. And Dave Matthews has never been worth more than $20.

Last Thursday. Afrika Bambaataa spinning down the street at Storyville, SF. Shook hands with the man himself. Ten bucks.

Almostcool has the right idea. Critical thinking skills are essential to daily life, including how much and on what you spend your money. People who pay to see Sir Paul McCartney get what they deserve - a "royal treatment."
posted by birddog at 8:31 AM on July 16, 2002

for every time i find myself thinking ticket prices are getting out of hand, i stumble on a great show for 5 bucks. but when the big name bands come in town, the only venues that can hold the shows usually charge over $20 and then gouge you on the alcohol sales. the worst thing has got to be the ticketmaster/startickets deal... "how much are the tickets?... $23... plus $5 handling fee and ticket printing charges, and tax... that'll be $30 sir." i can't imagine that any of those extra charges go to support the band.

but... i don't mind paying for inflated tickets prices if it's a band whose songs i've dowloaded for free and have been listening to happily for a while. i figure they get more cash in hand from a live show than a cd sale.
posted by ggggarret at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2002

People who pay to see Sir Paul McCartney get what they deserve - a "royal treatment."

In this case, "Royal Treatment" defined as waking up the next morning with a sore orifice wondering where their money went...
posted by almostcool at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2002

If the large venues, like Mountainview's Shoreline Amphitheater would focus on something other than Boomer-era rock reunions (all the good bands are dead, anyway) they might generate something more than a passing interest. Gawd I shudder at the thought of a Phil Collins reunion tour, a New Kids on the Block reunion tour, a Huey Lewis and the News reunion tour. Oh wait... that one already happened. EEEYAAGH!

Anyone catch Poison & Cinderella?

When I finally grew up, left suburbia, and got to know the City, I realized I didn't have to give a shit what's at Shoreline this summer. Long live the Fillmore, the Hotel Utah, the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, Cafe du Nord, the Starry Plough, and Yoshi's!
posted by scarabic at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2002

Midnight Oil is playing here tomorrow night. Cost? Free. A local radio station and a sponsor are picking up the cost.

Now, if only I liked them. That would be something.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:04 AM on July 16, 2002

You can see the next Led Zeppelin for four bucks around the corner.

Going to see Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, or The Who is a totally different experience from going to see local musicians. U2, the Rolling Stones, et al. are now just novelty acts, peddling their rock and roll wares to older professionals who can pay bucks to relive their childhoods.

I'd probably go see some of those massive stadium acts if the time was right, but I would feel silly complaining about the prices. Stadium shows are the spectacle that rock stars dream about and that musicians aren't interested in. I'd say stadium ticket sales are down, because big concerts are just *uncool* these days. And I think that is a great sign. MTV, Ticketmaster, etc. maybe don't have as much control over us all as I thought they did. Hooray for all of us not going to see a bunch of geriatric millionaires playing songs that are 20 years old.
posted by goneill at 9:07 AM on July 16, 2002

Like almostcool and tommasz, I stick to cheap concerts at smaller venues. I prefer the more intimate show experience, filthy bathrooms and all, to paying out the nose for seats so far away I have to look at the giant screen to see the band. I can stay home and watch TV for free (and I know when my bathroom was cleaned last). Plus most dirty filthy rock and roll bars have better (and cheaper) beer than larger venues.

Rarely spend more than $20 on tickets to a show, and usually catch a bill with three or more bands. Luckily my music taste runs towards bands that fall within my concert going budget.

I have nothing but disdain for musicians who already have more money than they could ever ever ever spend charging outrageous ticket prices. Shameful greed.
posted by jennyb at 9:14 AM on July 16, 2002

Bring back Zappa, then I'll go to a concert.
posted by zanpo at 9:18 AM on July 16, 2002

Lets see Hillary try and blame that on MP3s!

Clearly, with all the mp3s of bootleg concert recordings floating around the net, no one needs to pay to hear their favorite band live anymore.
posted by straight at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2002

Have they ever considered the fact that the economy isn't exactly in tiptop shape and that people may just be deciding to stay at home (with their mp3s) as opposed to shelling out to see live music.
posted by zeoslap at 9:30 AM on July 16, 2002

i go to a few concerts every week. i love live music. i go often and i go early (to see all opening bands). most of the shows i see are in the $6 - 13 range (canadian dollars). rarely is it more and if it is, i usually pass unless it's a great band in a small venue. (for instance, seeing guided by voices this week at the horseshoe (c$20) and Mum the next day at the rivoli for $16).

however, i have to laugh at the prices these big bands charge (and that people actually pay). it's pretty absurd. why anyone would pay $60-$130 to go to a large venue and see a bunch of people dance around looking the size of ants is beyond me.
posted by dobbs at 9:44 AM on July 16, 2002

Bring back Zappa, then I'll go to a concert

You may have missed something in the whole finality of death equation.

As far as big money shows, I think the most I've ever paid for a concert was 75$ a ticket for Tom Waits. For die hard fans like me and Skot, that's worth it. For others, maybe not.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:54 AM on July 16, 2002

i don't mind the $25 i usually have to pay for a show...its the 100mile drive that pisses me off, since i live out in the sticks of california [a hick town of 200,000 people] and have to drive hours for decent music in sacramento, davis, berkeley, SF or santa cruz. did santa cruz last tuesday night...took almost 3 hours.

one thing i always try to do is buy CDs direct from the artist at the show. Last tuesday made the check out to Dar Williams for her CD. That was great. But be warned...when you buy a cd from the artist...you're not paying money to a music store chain, and some may feel guilty that all the money is going to the artist. just, you know...be warned.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:10 AM on July 16, 2002

You know what I'd pay $80 for?

To see a band/performer I *really* liked, in a small venue where I could sit down at a _table_ (with adult beverages at a reasonable price), actually see and hear the performer(s) clearly, with no smoking allowed in the room.

And the people watching wouldn't be obnoxious jerks who yelled, screamed, pushed, shoved, puked on, or otherwise interfered with the other (more civilized) patrons' enjoyment of the evening.

Actually, I'd pay upwards of a hundred bucks for this.

Damn, too bad the VC funding thing is all over, otherwise I might have half a snowball's chance in hell of being able to magically create such a place myself. And some good or even kickass performers might like to play there, too. Hmm....

(And yes, there would be "smoker's nights" for those so inclined...)

[anyone using this idea after reading this owes me a million zillion dollars, cuz I'm going to patent it and stuff. Maybe I'll call the place "Prior Art", bwahhahahha.]
posted by beth at 10:46 AM on July 16, 2002

Usually the shows that cost $50-$80-$120 are in big arena-type settings which have really lousy acoustics and a terrible view of the stage (unless you're lucky enough to get front row seats) and no chance for a personal contact with the musician. Go to smaller venues, you'll discover not only some excellent local musicians, but even some world class touring musicians who don't happen to be world-famous in the pop/rock genre. (For $10 I got to sit 8 feet away from John Renbourn as he played - there are some other guitar players in the world who can equal Renbourn, but I don't know of any who are better.)
posted by tdismukes at 10:56 AM on July 16, 2002

Maybe....just maybe, the music isn't as good as it was...

i have to mutter an agreement mattr, i tend to think that the reason why the music industry is losing across the board is because that which is being offered by the big boys is a rehashing of the same old same old, and boring to boot. what did britney spears latest concert tix go for? and why would i buy some of the same music or tix of eden's crush if i didn't like the formula in the first place? heck, (dork child central here) i remember going to see (*cough*) new kids on the block for free (gasp!) for that formula eons ago at the local mall.

while this probably isn't astute, i think part of the problem the control the music execs have over what's hand plucked, packaged, marketed and spoon-fed to the music masses has had a diminishing returns effect on the quality and originality of the path that music could have naturally taken. ah frampton, you ruined it all. the only *new* music i buy these days was released at least a decade ago or from very local bands, and the only concert i've even been willing to shell out for was roger waters ... twice (boston/ny). even then, i got great seats with a great view at about $50. (*shrug*) and as i understand it, he sold out almost every show.
posted by eatdonuts at 11:53 AM on July 16, 2002

just about every event i've paid more than $20 for has sucked.

really. i can't think of any at all that have been worth more than $20 for entry -- no club, no rave, no concert, no sporting event, no book reading, no conference, no comic convention, no amusement park.

really -- that's the breaking point.

i'm guessing one of these huge blowout festival type things would be the only thing to challenge that, like, say, burning man (disclaimer: never been, probably never will bother.) -- of course, then there's Woodstock II, so I don't know.

ot: Last show I bought tickets for was a Santana show, covered seating was $75.00 per seat.

ouch. why, only 4 or 5 years ago, (before that song which made him, once again, a rock star) it was a running joke that whenever you saw a bill that read: "with special guests", it would be carlos santana. (well, running joke i guess, for the guitar geeks, my friend being one of them -- so really, just a running joke with him.)

posted by fishfucker at 12:01 PM on July 16, 2002

beth...i like your idea.

i'd pay 80-150 to see a favorite in a small, small venue that had audiophile sound as well. maybe the thing to do is just get a group of fans together and barter with the promoter...i see e-GroupConcertBid.com.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:15 PM on July 16, 2002

the secret--i think--to being ok with paying more $ for a show is to listen to music that sounds good live, and to go see performers who sing, play instruments etc...because REAL musicians sound better live. More energy. They become storytellers.

i know, i know, i'm a radical.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:18 PM on July 16, 2002

To see a band/performer I *really* liked, in a small venue where I could sit down at a _table_ (with adult beverages at a reasonable price), actually see and hear the performer(s) clearly, with no smoking allowed in the room.

Come to Chicago. You see it all the time. Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, the list goes on. For the price of two packs of Camels I can ogle blues legends and even by em' a drink between sets. And some of them won't allow smoking even!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:30 PM on July 16, 2002

"...are now just novelty acts, peddling their rock and roll wares to older professionals who can pay bucks to relive their childhoods."

I disagree that they're all just novelty acts, although I do think some are out there touring for the wrong reasons. Still, at least they can tour. I'd like to see what the Vegas variety acts of DMX, Ja Rule, J-Lo, P-Diddy, KRS One, Nas, NSYNC, Eminem, et al. look like in 20 years. If anything's novelty it's 90% of music being made today. All written by a choice few 'hit song' writers like Diane Warren, Babyface, Rodney Jerkins, etc..


I think it should be obvious that there isn't a magic bullet causing the slip in concert sales. There are a number of factors. Everything from the accessibility of artists through video, to high ticket prices, to the restrictive atmosphere at large concerts. Originally there were only so many avenues an artist could take to get his name and product out there. Live concerts were a major factor in generating buzz and sales. Now it's overwhelming. The fan/consumer has unprecedented access to the artist and their music. You're flooded with visual images of your favorite artist, in the most perfect settings, so what's left to see at a typical concert? Why pay $50 or more to sit in nose-bleed seats where the visual aspect of the concert is minimal (excepting of course, large productions of top artists).

The reason, or need for the concert is waning, and yet this is where the artist makes the majority of their money. What are artists going to do when they can't sell their CDs anymore, and no one is coing to their concerts? Giving up the idea of CD/record sales in the face of mp3s was one thing. It could have become the avenue of promotion for the live concerts. Record an album, give it away for free, and get everyone to come to the concerts, but if you can't depend on concert sales to generate revenue, and mp3s cut into sales of recorded works, then the whole idea of an artistic career in music becomes a black hole of output with no return.

Local acts, that 'next LedZeppelin', have already been doing this for years in the club scene. There's no money in original live music. Most musicians do it for the love, the fun, and the few perks that it offers, with the idea that it could lead to larger success where they can kiss the day-job good-bye. It's great to know that there are people out there supporting live local music, but your favorite local band isn't making any serious money doing it.

You play clubs for free, you 'pay to play', you make $50-$200 (if you're lucky) to be split between you, your 5 bandmates, and road crew, if you have any. You've already spent thousands on gear and instruments because no one gives endorsment deals to unknown, unsigned acts. You rent trucks or by a van to tow your gear from place to place. You work a shitty day job because you need the flexibility it offers and spend you nights either rehearsing or playing gigs 'til 2 or 3 in the morning. You're tired, you're wired, and although that club owner in Schenectady liked you, he's not gonna rebook you because you didn't bring anyone to the show. Of course how could have you when your fan base is in the Jersey shore and no one is going to drive 6 hours to see you, but you press on and drink your complimentary drink, break down and load your gear and drive home.

You spend hundreds, if not thousands creating demo tapes/CDs and give away a large portion for free because it's all part of promotion. You walk around broke and hungry because you just spent your last few bucks for the week on guitar/bass strings, cables, drum heads, sticks, cymbals, etc. because you have an important gig tonight which nobody is going to come to anyway because it's a Tuesday night show, and you're last on the bill which means you go on at 1am.

The next time you pay 4 bucks to see that next Led Zeppelin play at the local bar just remember he isn't seeing dime one from it, and isn't likely to. But hey, it's rock n roll. If you're one of the lucky ones you get to be that geriatric millionaire playing your 20-year-old songs to a crowd of people who may whine about ticket prices, but still appreciate the music you've been giving them for those 20 years.
posted by mikhail at 12:37 PM on July 16, 2002

Maybe I'm missing something, but most of the shows I've seen (with a few notable exceptions - Stones, Steely Dan) were not as enjoyable as their respective recordings. I couldn't tell you how many times I've gone down to the basement, slapped on my headphones, cranked it up to 11, and simply enjoyed the music. Sometimes, like as is often the case with books and sausage, it's better not to see how they're made.

Some shows, they are more cultural events than concerts (The Dead, for example), where the emphasis is on being able to say "I saw the Dead in ." It gives you a cultural node of experience, that entrenches you into a certain generation (not a great word, more like socio-cultural mindset, if you get me) that creates a certain basis for identifying with others of like mindset.

I have paid good dollar for shows I wanted badly to see - $80 for 2nd row AC/DC in '86 (!), $110 for the Stones in '89, $80 again for REM in '92. But I don't go to a lot of shows anymore.

posted by UncleFes at 12:41 PM on July 16, 2002

UncleFes: Among music snobs, some are album-people (such as you or I), some are live-people. The latter feel there is electricity, vigour and innovation in a live concert that vastly outstrips the experience of hearing something recorded in studio. Album people go to shows, live people buy CDs, but both prefer one over the other.
posted by Marquis at 12:47 PM on July 16, 2002

I've managed to see my share of real musicians play in everything from obscenely small and cozy to luxuriously spacious venues without having to go over the $15 mark. There is maybe five or six bands total that on their own can pull more than that amount out of my hands. You get so much more out of a small venue chow -- almost like the band is playing for you and a handful of their friends in a basement somewhere. Nothing beats that feeling.

The only way I ever go to see performers in large (arena or stadium) venues or pay into the $40 range is if it's some kind of festival and/or there there is an obscene amount of good musicians playing (and sometimes you get lucky and get both in one show).

Just my opinion. Take it for what it's worth....
posted by fischler at 12:50 PM on July 16, 2002

Saw Jackson Browne for $40 a few months ago in a moderately sized venue. It was a show with no set list per se, just him and a few thousand of his closest personal friends--at least that's how it felt. Worth every penny.
posted by plinth at 1:16 PM on July 16, 2002

I haven't paid more than $20 to go to a concert in a long time (since 1996 actually) and I refuse to. the White Stripes played here on Sunday, and while I'm a fan, I couldn't justify paying $23 to see a band I saw for $10 in a much more intimate setting.

The trick to bringing ticket prices down is to refuse to go to the shows charging high ticket prices. If the Stones can get enough people to buy the tickets at $50 then they don't need to lower the price to $30.

As many have pointed out, there are usually plenty of incredible bands playing in your area, but it takes some investigation to find out which ones are worth seeing. That, and some of the best shows take place in basements (at least in Milwaukee).
posted by drezdn at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2002

drezdn, I disagree at some level that the trick to bringing high ticket prices down is to boycott the high-price shows. This works to cancel tours not lower ticket prices. Tours are planned and dates announced and tickets go on sale. If there is no possibilty of generating enough revenue to keep the tour on the road due to low ticket sales, the tour is cancelled. Promoters and artists don't try lowering ticket prices next. Cancel enough tours because of low ticket sales and you'll wind up in the discount rack as a has-been without promotional backing. It's almost a catch 22 in this situation. Don't go to high-priced concerts and they will stop having concerts. Lowering ticket prices almost never occurs to anyone.

It's a climate where insurance, security, venue rentals, etc. (not to leave out greed) have caused putting on a major production to skyrocket. It's not a, "Sorry, no one wants to pay high-ticket prices so lets lower them and scale back the production", it's more like "Sorry, no one wants to pay to see you anymore." *slam*

Without some visionary industry people to steer this whole thing into new territory and work to establish workable product:value pricing, the music industry is headed for disaster. The industry spends more time trying to decide how best to market the artist through things like toys, posters, clothes, etc., than just putting the artist and music out there in the best possible light. The money is now in the marketing of manufactured celebrity. Sell the name, sell the brand. Get in, get what you can and get out. Or if you're an artist who hasn't offered anything new in a while, you can just wait 10 years or so and then cash in on your celebrity mythos as a younger generation sits around discussing the air of claptrap that surrounds your reemergence.

I blame Kiss, and the Beatles. Oh and Elvis. That's right Elvis. Probably the first mass-marketed rockstar. Shameful, just shameful.
posted by mikhail at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2002

What was that old Steve Martin bit?

I'll do one show, five thousand dollars a seat...I'm gone.

Something like that.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2002

Just last Saturday I saw Concrete Blonde, free, outside, on the steps of a Smithsonian building, in the gentle rain of a warm night, with maybe five rows of people in between me and Johnette Napolitano. Having Tomorrow, Wendy and especially Everybody Knows beaten into me, louder than love, was just what I needed that night.
posted by NortonDC at 6:09 PM on July 16, 2002

i rarely pay more than $20 for a concert most are local bands in small clubs very rarely do i go to a big arena or ampitheatre show. i don't mind driving 4-5 hours for a show half the fun is in getting there. i've seen my favorite band in eight states and twice on a cruise ship. i guess it just depends on where your musical tastes lie and how much you want to devote to being a fan and supporting your favorite artists.
posted by hazelmeg at 8:53 PM on July 16, 2002

The thing that bums me out the most is that I live in the fourth-largest city in America and somehow all of my favorite artists declined to play here. Last fall I had to make two trips to Austin in a month's time to see two concerts I'd been waiting for some time to see (Wilco and Tenacious D).

The most I've ever paid for a concert was one of those arena-type venues-- $35 for Radiohead last summer. It was giant, but it was outdoors, and honestly I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a different experience, but it was a good one-- then again, this is a band still at their peak, not some dinosaur who hasn't put out anything of critical relevance in 25 years just milking it.

And I think the other two shows I saw were in the $20s-- not bad for two of my favorite artists. I have randomly dropped in on small shows from bands I like but are not big fans of-- like $15 to see the Old '97s in a club.

I think a bigger problem is that the Houston local music scene is generally considered not very thriving, especially in comparison to Austin, just a couple of hours away. That's starting to change, though-- and hopefully as more local acts get recognized, the scene will grow, more artists will come here as well, and it's an upward spiral from there.
posted by nath at 11:04 PM on July 16, 2002

I think a bigger problem is that the Houston local music scene is generally considered not very thriving, especially in comparison to Austin, just a couple of hours away. That's starting to change, though-- and hopefully as more local acts get recognized, the scene will grow, more artists will come here as well, and it's an upward spiral from there.

That's the situation in Milwaukee, many mid-Indie bands skip MKE because they can have larger shows in Chicago (80 miles away) and Madison (70 Miles away) but it helps the local scene, as there is a tighter knit local scene, and less competition with big touring acts.

The advantage for MKE kids is that large Indie bands play here in much smaller venues than they do in other cities (Sleater-Kinney played to maybe 175 people the last time they were here)

Nath, my guitarist/singer friend actually moved here from Houston to play. He was once in a band with someone from the Houston band the Kants.
posted by drezdn at 12:35 AM on July 17, 2002

I've never paid more than $10 or so for a concert in the last few years. Unless someone I adore comes along to DC and plays a show that is worth the money, I will stick with supporting local bands.
The music still lives.
posted by t0rn at 7:51 AM on July 17, 2002

Moby is playing my home town tomorrow night. Tickets are $30. *chortle* Thirty bucks to watch a guy balder than me push buttons? I think not.

Tours don't HAVE to cost an arm and a leg. Ask Mike Watt. Jam econo, baby.

Fugazi is STILL a $5 (maybe it's now $6) ticket, and a helluva bargain.

I agree that concert attendance is down because so much new stuff sucks (says the old man). And since so much new stuff is actually made by people twiddling knobs rather than playing musical instruments, there's less incentive to see them live, because it's gonna sound just the same.

Last big show I went to was Tool. Didn't really give a damn about Tool (to quote Homer Simpson, "less artsy, more fartsy!") but The Melvins were the opening band, and I love The Melvins.

Just about the only band that could drag me out to an arena show would be Radiohead. I'd go see Wilco, too. And System of a Down, if they'd set up and play in my living room and then pay me for the privilege. (But I must admit I'd go see Slipknot, too....never said I had good taste....)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:37 PM on July 17, 2002

I drove 5 hours and spent about a $1000 bucks for 2 good seats, a couple of t-shirts and 2 really bad snacks to see Paul McCartney in Dallas, Texas with about 20,000 of my closest freinds,
What would I do differently next time the Macca comes close to town? ... buy ONE good seat etc.. The other 19,999 people weren't bitching...

I guess I'm a true fan
posted by danger at 1:09 AM on July 18, 2002

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