Nearly 20 years ago, Pearl Jam took on ticket prices. They wanted to keep tickets to their shows at the $10 price point. Not before fees, but for it to cost $10 total out the door*. This was impossible because of service fees from ticket brokers. Specifically, their battle was with Ticketmaster.
Ticketmaster would not negotiate the fees, so the band sought an alternative. They found out that there was none. So, they took their fight against the Ticketmaster monopoly to Congress. Many bands supported Pearl Jam’s battle, and vowed to be there to support them. Then, no one showed. Are you going to testify against John Gotti? Not if you want to live.
Since then, no one has tried to ‘climb the fence’ to get ticket prices down. They all talk about it, but no one makes that walk to the fence.
Allow me to explain the expression ‘climb the fence’. There is a parable about a group of apes in captivity. There was a fence, and the top was electrified so they could not escape. They did not know about the electricity initially. One day, an ape decided he wanted out. So, he climbed the fence and was electrocuted to death when he reached the top. After that day, anytime anyone came near that fence, the other apes would attack them… so protect them.
This went on for years, until all of the original apes had been replaced by a newer generation. From learning from the elders, the new apes learned quickly to never go near the fence. In time, everyone knew to never go near the fence, even though they had no idea why. The electrocution had happened generations earlier. Basically, you didn’t need to know why the fence was so bad, you just knew to never go near it.
Well, Pearl Jam climbed that fence and got electrocuted. The Justice Department chucked their lawsuit out, and that was a tragedy. Since then, no one has gone near the fence.
20 years later, Kid Rock is climbing that fence. Even better, he has a chance of making it out. Kid Rock is on tour this summer, and only charging $20 for tickets. All seats, $20 out the door. On top of that, he is capping beer prices at all venues at $4. How does he do it? Well, first off, he is willing to lose money for the principle of it. I’ll let Kid Rock explain it, because he does it so well.
“Athletes and musicians make astronomical amounts of money,” he tells Rolling Stone. “People get paid $100 million to throw a baseball! Shouldn’t we all take less and pass some of that money onto others? Think about firefighters, teachers and policemen. We should celebrate people that are intellectually smart and trying to make this world a better place.”
This is great. God bless Kid Rock for offering to climb the fence for all of us. I bought two tickets to his Denver show. I may not even make it because of work. Still, it is absolutely worth $40 for me to support this business model. I want the show to sell out and do ridiculously well, so other musicians might be empowered to one day climb the fence themselves. See, Ticketmaster fees are now between 100 to 150% of face value on tickets. Motley Crue and Creed lawn seats were $5 each across the country. Those seats after fees were $25.
You may say “$25 is a deal to go see Motley Crue”. I say “that is a 200% service fee. What the fuck is that about? If I am going to pay $25 to see Motley, that should go to the band.
This, of course, is not why I write. This is also not why I use the apes climbing the fence metaphor. Nope. The reason I write is how people have reacted to this. Kid Rock is charging a tenth of what other national bands charge. He is a hero of the proletariat, right? No. This is what people have been saying online:
people don’t have a job and are struggling to eat, and keep a roof over thier head. and he’s talking about concert ticket prices. a real republican isn’t he? like concert ticket pricing is going to change people lives. what a jerk!**
What the fuck, right? What is this guy’s problem? I can only surmise he has been beaten back from that fence so many times that he no longer questions why, like all the other apes of his generation. So, thank you Kid Rock for trying again to climb the fence. I am down here rooting for you, I promise. If you go all Icarus on us, though, can I have your hat?
* last time I saw Pearl Jam, and this was ten years ago, tickets were $100 for just ok seats. Shows you how far away the business has gotten
** that is verbatim, I left his typos and crappy in because he is an asshole. Stay in school, kids!