The Costly Concert Conundrum: What Happened to $20 Shows?

I hate to do this to you, but please put on your nostalgia glasses for a minute. Do you have them fit, all snug and such? Good. Now let’s take the Magic School Bus back to the 90’s (Portlandia would be proud) and recall concerts, shall we? I payed $22.00 once to see eleven, top-billed acts for 14 hours on a summer day in 1994. I used to pay $10 to go see a local hardcore show in Boston with five bands or more, or even check out some killer underground rap show at some cool little hole-in-the-wall spot for the same price. Back then, if you were paying $100 plus dollars to go to a show, the act had to be someone like The Rolling Stones on a reunion tour, being danced around on strings like marionettes because half of them are already clearly dead. Back then it was not unheard of paying $100 to go see a big name act who hadn’t come around in awhile. But as far as any other shows, they all stayed within the “reasonable” range. Usually $10-$30, depending on who was playing where.

But last week I was invited to a 311 show (yes, the rap rock band from the very 90’s we just spoke of) and the ticket for nosebleed seats were around $75. Wait, what the fuck? Almost a hundred bucks to go see a band that hasn’t charted since they did a Cure cover song over 20 years ago? Come to find out, that is now considered small-change, with most shows coming it at around a hundred bucks, minimum now, and I am still just talking ticket prices. I haven’t even mentioned if you want beers (might need to remortgage the house for that) or buy some food and souvenirs. At that point, it hits you that a day-long concert is going to set you back anywhere from three hundred to five hundred dollars. Wish I was kidding.

Um, unless it is Led Zeppelin reuniting (with its dead member, too) to play my front yard during a family barbecue, I would NEVER plunk down that kind of cash for a show. So what the fuck
happened besides inflation since the 90’s to make shows so fucking expensive and nearly unapproachable? 

We did.

We All Became Starfuckers

First thing we need to do is take some ownership in all this. Anytime something gets super shitty we all need to remember, it is because we, as people, allowed it to get there. In this case, we did not stand up against the bastards that are Ticketmaster (more on that later) and we began to treat celebrities (pop stars and rap stars in particular) like royalty. This led to them believing they were just that and began increasing demands about what they make per show and how tickets go for. Add to this the labels and reps and producers and managers all trying to make more, too, and you have ticket prices that do nothing but escelate, consistently, and we allow it.

Their thought was, try this business model until it fails and people refuse. Thing is, we are idiots and sheep and just didn’t refuse it at all. We took it up the keester and the end result now is you have bands and pop stars and starlets that have been charging arms and legs for their concerts (too soon?) and we, the people, just putting up with it and never raising opposition.
So as Radiohead so delicately put it (about pop music no less, in the song Just)....you do it to yourself and that’s why it really hurts.

Also note, same band said (to pop music fans, no less) this is what you get!
Brood over that for a moment. We did this to ourselves. They are right.
But wa,wa,wait..it get’s worse…..

Ticketmaster, Prick-etmaster

Here is the other kicker that makes this all even grosser. Ticketmaster are a FUCKING MONOPOLY who own pretty much all bands when it comes down to ticket sales. Have you ever looked at your actual FEES on that very ticket you pay so much for? Oh man, you are paying for security, you are paying for the booze license they have, you are paying for parking (even though you probably LITERALLY paid to park) and you are paying taxes and amenities on a bevvy of other services for that ticket that is all a bunch of bullshit. Hell, you just bought some of the stupid demands on that band’s ‘tour rider’ AKA list of demands (get us a hottub and take all the brown M&M’s out of all the bags! That is a REAL example btw).

Yet again, we just kinda took it up the ass and didn’t say shit, pun very much intended.
Fast forward decades later, Ticketmaster still have all live shows locked down, and we now pay insanely high amounts for shows because we allowed ourselves to get bullied into this, with basic societal progression pointing to the fact that this will continue to allow this to get worse and worse until regular folks like you and I can no longer afford to see live music. Seriously, it’s that bad.

It will happen based on inflation of living versus what most people make these days. And the day we have to say goodbye to live music because we are “too poor” will be a tragic day, indeed, but is an inevitable one at this point for some of us.

Sadly, if the world would just listen to ONE BAND this problem would end….

The Genius ‘Pearl Jam Model’ NO other Bands Follow

There was ONE band, though, even WAY back in the 90’s who called Ticketmaster out for their bullshit and BROKE AWAY FROM THEM. That band’s name is Pearl Jam, and what they did changed the world for their fans. Why no one else has followed their lead is beyond me and anyone else who knows of it at this point. Here is the quick 101 about how Pearl Jam told Ticketmaster to fuck off.

Pearl Jam saw all the bullshit, extra charges, and even the fact that Ticketmaster sets aside tickets for scalpers and websites. Yes, they allow scumbags to buy up 500 seats at once at then put those seat tickets online for twice what was paid. Ticketmaster has nothing in place to stop that or to lead anyone to assume they even give a fuck. So Pearl Jam began selling the tickets to their shows in a very unique and somewhat incredible manner. Were you a member of their Ten Club (which is a fan  club that existed since the inception of the band itself), you would then get emailed FIRST RIGHTS to the tickets. Once all the genuine fans had tickets, they would make the rest of the tickets available to the public, but not through Ticketmaster. And on top of that, I just saw Pearl Jam at fucking Fenway Park for less than it will cost me to go see a stale-old-frat-rap-rock band next month.

Now do you see how fucked up this all is?

So Stop F*cking Allowing and Perpetuating It!

Let me tell you how we can change this ticket price thing RIGHT NOW. It is easy, effortless, and would change our quality of life but will never happen because it involves people working together and in unison and we all know that is no longer the way, sadly. #TrumpNation.
BUT (and there is always a big old butt in music)....

We would just have to collectively agree to stop going to shows for a year, whilst making it very apparent why we are doing so on all social media platforms.
Were we to do that, we would send the music business into an absolute frenzy and they would have to work out a way to get us all back, which would be to reduce ticket prices and availability to the right resources (by not making it so easy for scumbags to buy tickets en-masse and profit off true fans).

So hey, stop going to shows for awhile and let’s bring back the $10 punk show. Those were some of the best days of my life, and probably some of yours, too.

Okay, you can take those retro goggles off now. Thanks for that.
Rant Over.