It’s been a while since you’ve heard me complain (or whine, if you prefer) about ticket prices. I haven’t recently dedicated a Vie’s Verses to it. I haven’t tweeted (@ryovie) about my disgust with ticket prices for a few months. And I haven’t commented via podcast about the climbing prices of concert tickets. Yet, with my upcoming attendance at the New Jersey Black Sabbath show, I thought that it was time to revisit ticket prices and even offer an idea that may change the way tickets are sold (at least, I can only hope).
For the Black Sabbath show, I am sitting on the lawn. The reason for this is that I just couldn’t justify the cost of $150 to see Black Sabbath. I know they are icons and probably worth the money, but they are old and I have never seen them before. What if Ozzy’s voice is shot? What if the show is horrendous? $50 is much easier to swallow on a bad concert than $150.
With the show coming up in less than two weeks, I started thinking about ticket prices once again. That prompted me to do a little research on the cost of current tours. I picked five concerts at random that I would either be interested in seeing, or have already purchased tickets for. Here is the price range that I discovered for each. (NOTE: All prices include the heinous fees).
Black Sabbath – $45.50 – $148
Bon Jovi – $38.05 – $599.00
Pearl Jam – $92.00
Shinedown (w/ Skillet and Papa Roach) – $60.85 -$71.10
Nine Inch Nails – $63.00 – $113.00
First off, $600 to see Bon Jovi? Really? Without Richie Sambora? Really? Bon Jovi have lost their minds. And yes, there are seats for $38.00 but they are way up high and there aren’t that many of them to begin with. Want to know why Bon Jovi is having trouble selling out his home stadium in New Jersey? The ticket prices are just way too high. Recently I attended a Barenaked Ladies concert (not hard rock, I know, but I have other tastes as well). Tickets ranged between $40 – $80. The amphitheater where I saw them perform was approximately ¾ full (and I am being generous). Why? $80 was just too much to pay.
I have to think that when tickets don’t sell well, bands, promoters, and venues are all losing money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to lower the prices slightly and sell out the venue instead of having a half empty arena? But what can be done? How can we, the fans, find a way to attend the show at an affordable rate? Mulling over this issue, I came up with an idea that I thought might be worth a trial basis at least. What if before a band went on tour, they took a poll to have the fans name the price? The band could set the minimum price (say $20 ala Kid Rock) and then fans could vote on what price they would pay. It works for Priceline, although I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about their business model. But why not a Priceline for concerts?
If Kiss sent a press release stating that they wanted fans to vote on the price of their upcoming tour, I am sure that they would have droves of people voting on the price. I know that I would. And then, based upon the price that fans wanted to pay, the band could decide if they wanted to go on tour or not. Bands, venues, and promoters, always claim that they have to charge high prices so that they don’t lose money on tours. This would give them the option of knowing how much money they would make, and whether it would be lucrative for them to tour. Sure, there would have to be plenty of logistics to work out, but overall, if thousands of fans vote that they would pay $40 to see Kiss, but no more, then the band would know what the fans feel is a fair price. This way, the band would have a pretty good idea that their concerts would sell out at a certain price. Using the above example, Kiss would know that their 25 show tour would sell out at $40 a ticket, but they may have a hard time moving tickets at $50 per ticket. And since every band claims that it is all about the fans, why wouldn’t they want to do this? (Kiss is charging $76 – $113 for their current tour. Floor seats are still available at most shows).
I know that we have to assume fans are going to select an honest price that they would pay and not just the lowest price they see, but even if they choose the lowest price, the band has the option to not tour. Personally, I would pay $50 to see Black Sabbath (I am), but not $150. Yet, I don’t feel that I should be relegated to the lawn because I want to save $100. Even the mighty Pearl Jam, who fought for years to keep ticket prices low, are charging almost $100 per ticket. I am a huge fan of the band, but I am not sure that I am willing to pay $100 to see them in concert.
What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in a “name your own price per tour” option? Would you enter an honest amount, or just opt for the lowest price polled? Drop a line in the comments section and let us know your thoughts.
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