Another one tries to climb the fence

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This went on for years, until all of the original apes had been replaced by a newer generation.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.”

We’re all so overpaid. It’s ridiculous. People stopped going to concerts because they can’t afford them.

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!

 

I got your convenience charge right here

When Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged, they promised to use economies of scale to serve the customer base.  This is what the asshat of a CEO, Barry Diller, said about service fees and their impact on ticket prices.

Ticketmaster does not set prices. Live Nation does not set ticket prices. Artists set prices. Everyone else is just a distributor or service provider to artists and content owners.

Barry Diller is an asshat, and the reason why Pearl Jam took these crooks to Congress years ago.  Ticketmaster has a HUGE impact on ticket prices.  A lawn ticket is $18.50 before Ticketmaster, $36 after.  That is a pretty big impact.  Double the price.  I can’t conceivably think of a bigger impact that doubling the goddamn price.

Indeed, Ticketmaster does not set prices.  However, their impact is felt.  Here are some examples of the service fees, which now stretch to well over 100%.  I will only reference Denver ticketing experiences, because I am in Denver.  So, these are personal experiences with , and actual figures.  Last summer, Ticketmaster sold tickets to Motley Crue’s big tour.  They were playing a ‘shed’, which every big city has.  It’s outdoors: half seating and half lawn.  Ticketmaster and the venue (Fiddler’s Green) were offering $10 lawn seats.  That is a crazy good deal.

Problem is, the tickets actually cost $25 each after fees.  Yes.  That is a 150% service fee mark up.  “Convenience” indeed.  I went this weekend to buy Iron Maiden tix (for the same venue).  Those lawn seats were $18 each face value.  Online, those $18 tickets were $32 each.  So, I decided to wait and drive to the venue and buy the tickets directly from the venue box office.  It used to be that these tickets didn’t have fees.  Wrong.  Since the merger with Live Nation, it now costs MORE to buy tickets directly at the box office.  The $18 tickets cost $36 at the box office.  That is a 100% service fee.

Where the hell are the tea party folks on this?  Ticketmaster is a monopoly.  I can not buy tickets through any other avenue, I have tried.  They are more expensive at the theatre, and the band’s website directs me to Ticketmaster as well.   Could you imagine if you went to Burger King and you ordered the #1 combo?  It says $4.99.   Now, imagine if they told you that would be $10.  You would laugh and tell them to kiss your backside.  Guess what, imagine there is no competition.  The only restaurant that is open is Burger King and they charge a 100% convenience fee for heating and distributing your burger to you.

Now that Ticketmaster and Live Nation have merged, all consumer choices are out the window.  I just want every consumer out there to know what is happening.  If you are going to a concert, expect service fees to be between 80 to 100%.  I had also heard that Creed was selling $5 lawn seats to their shows, which were costing $30 after fees.  However, I can’t substantiate this because Creed sucks.  So, I would never buy a ticket for them.  The ticket prices referenced above were done by me… this isn’t ‘friend of a friend’ data.

* Here is something funny.  Right here at this site, two years ago, I was railing against 40% service fees.  Read here.  Read my prophetic words:

Live Nation will now monopolize every aspect of the business, one can only hope they will pass on a modicum of the savings to us.

I was super correct on that one.  Want to know what ‘every aspect of the business’ means?  Google the term ‘360 deal’.  Wait, I have done it for you.  I have started a Facebook group to protest the fee escalation.  I know it won’t do shit, but it we can get it up to a million or more, it might send a lesson to the greedy suits.  Here is the name of the group, please join us, and forward it around.   Stop Ticketmaster’s 100% service fees

* update Oct 2010

I was… er… Correct.  Ticketmaster is being sued now for their bullshit service fees. The chickens have come home to roost.  I sure would like to go back to seeing concerts.

Update Nov 2011

I was right.  I was correct.  They were wrong, and guilty.  They were caught stealing and lying about service fees.  Guilty guilty guilty.