Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Few More Of Your Thoughts On Ticketmaster

Hi Kent and Frannie ...
I, too, am so sick of TicketMaster. Say, have you tried StubHub ?? You can find them on their website or at 866-788-2482 (866-STUBHUB). I haven't used them as if yet, but did talk to one of their reps and it sounds pretty good. A bunch of teachers at school use this service. I called in regarding the upcoming Moody Blues concert here in Southern California, coming in July and they actually have plenty of tickets. They're like a brokerage house for all sorts of tickets, ranging from concerts to sporting events. You can buy or sell on this service. The charge 10% (which he tells me is less than TicketMaster) and a small SH charge, plus they guarantee the tickets will be to you by concert time.
Steve (Rocn60s)
Having just recently dealt with this service, I suggest that you visit their website and see what these tickets are REALLY going for ... my guess is that for a decent seat, you can expect to pay three to five times the face value of what one of these tickets REALLY cost ... PLUS their 10% commission ... a "small" service fee (probably another $20-$25) ... AND another $35 to mail them to you!!! Check it out and then write back ... I'd love to include BOTH sets of your comments!!! Thanks, Steve! (kk)

Fact is, I've talked to a number of folks now who have taken the StubHub route ... and, as long as it's something you REALLY want to see ... and are willing to pay a SIGNIFICANT upcharge to do so ... it may be worth the investment. The general consensus that I've heard is that most people are sick of paying through the nose to get these seats ... I personally have an even "lower" opinion!!! (lol)

Perfect Example --- > Yesterday I received two back-to-back emails regarding the INCREDIBLE show here in Chicago, "Jersey Boys". I guess attendence is down for The Fourth Of July ... most people probably planned OUTDOOR activities and Fireworks Nights ... so they're offereing a special ticket promotion through their Hot Tix Service. Main Floor Tickets that normally go for around $165 a piece are on sale for just $56 on a first-come, first-served basis. (Typical Hot Tix tickets go on sale the same day of the show for $25 each ... so I'm not sure what the "special ticket price" is exactly ... unless they mean that they're better than double their NORMAL special ticket price!!! lol) Anyway, just like TicketMaster, there are service charges attached to this offer ... and maybe they don't really seem all that bad ... $4.50 for the service charge (per ticket) and then another $3.50 per ticket for some type of "building fee" ... let's face it, we've certainly seen higher ... but this is still an inflation over the ADVERTISED price of 16% ... bringing the grand total to about $64 per ticket ... still a pretty good deal when you consider what Main Floor Seats normally go for. The very NEXT email was from Stub Hub ... they, too, have Jersey Boy Tickets available for The Fourth Of July ... for $448 per ticket!!!!! After reading all the b.s. about "Should you ever get in a jam and be unable to attend a Jersey Boys performance and need to sell your tickets, we're your source for this. And then, "If you ever NEED tickets, we're you're source for that, too." Yeah ... for $448 a pop!!! (I wonder how much they pay you for your tickets ... you know, when you're "in a jam" ... that they then RE-SELL for as much as $448 each!!!) Scroll back to Saturday's posting and re-read my White Sox Birthday Tickets story for yet another Stub Hub example. These are just a couple of very recent "real life" Stub Hub experiences ... all I can say is "Buyer Beware" ... maybe it's worth it if this is a show that you've just GOT to see ... but that's a judgement call YOU'LL have to make. (kk)

Just wanted to comment on your newsletter dated Saturday, June 27th. Mr. Vail had made a brief comment on radio stations not wanting to pay the royalties to deserving artists. The topic was ticket prices. I totally agree about the fees on ticket sales, including Uncle Sam always raising the amount they can take. But the radio thing is totally different. I have been in radio for over 40 years. Believe me, the staff are far under paid. It is ironic that just a few years ago stations were paid to play the songs. That, in theory, might be ok, (and that comment alone may upset some people), but this resulted in making a very unbalanced playing field for new artists. Only the ones with big bucks behind them could get air play. Do the record labels not keep charging for 70 years of songs? The gift that keeps on giving. But I ask you to keep in mind that stations have expenses and everyone seems to think that air time is free. You are just selling air, so you make a ton of money with no costs, right? Of course that was another time, and some stations did alright with selling air time ... the payola was under the table money and really was shady practice. Now, like all other businesses, stations are struggling for their lives. Multi-station ownership just try to combine the operation expense. I would just like to make it clear, that we can not always use big markets as an example for the thousands of small markets. Terrestrial radio has competition from all directions and could be heading towards extinction. That would be a sad loss for the local markets who depend on local weather, community events. etc. Everything has gone national. Severe weather will be broadcast on the national news the next day. So not to get to far off track, I just wanted to set the base for how expensive it has gotten to pay BMI, ASCAP, ect. Small stations can not pay anymore for royalties. The margin is just not there. And if the small station would like to join the streaming world ... Wow! Not only are there base fees, fees on the number of hits your web page gets, a percentage of all ads run on station, a percentage of any income generated by the web page, banners etc. ... plus still pay station royalties. Well, that leaves nothing left, so the majority of these stations are not on the Internet. Convert to talk radio and avoid the expenses of playing music. And it is also beginning to look like some stations are actually avoiding some labels.
Is this the same problem only in reverse? So, like the concert tickets, (and oh, by the way, artists do very well on their concerts ... earning much more than any royalties), it appears that the middle man is making all the bucks. Greed has far reaching effects and the fans and consumers (listeners) seem to be the only ones not being addressed. But wait ... The Internet!!!! The Internet has not even scratched the surface of what is to come. The record label industry is fighting for their lives. They are no longer needed, as the artists are realizing they don’t need them any more. Put your music out there, promote you concert, (where the money is for the artists) and reach millions. Many indi lables are being put on the Internet. There are now web sites that play only artists that are not under contract, just so their music can be heard ... and avoid royalties. And these web sites, pod casts, and any other form of radio stations are popping up regularly with non label groups. You do not need a crystal ball to see where everything is going. As far as the concert thing goes, it has gotten like sports. Only those who can afford those prices are going to be able to enjoy it ... and that is another story in itself. Lets all cut out the middle man, and give the money to who earned it.
Thanks, Kent, for having this open forum. Knowledge is power. Lets all get informed.
Jiffy Jeff
NOTE: Comments are those of personal opinion and not any staff or management of related stations.
Greed and gouging seem to be the name of the game. Artists have gotten smarter after hearing horror story after horror story of top selling acts who wound up broke after their management team and consultants pocketed all the money. The music industry as we remember it will soon cease to exist ... and certainly that will have a spiraling effect on everything else it touches, including radio, airplay and concert tickets. Why do these same artists who have been smart enough to take control of their releases and marketing still feel that they need to move ticket sales through a corporation that will skim a HUGE percentage off the top ... and then add in service charges above and beyond these profit levels to deposit in their own pockets? Typically, the artists don't see any of this additional money ... and MOST of them want to present an affordable show for their fans ... it's the greed of these "middle men" that make this impossible. Now add in the 500-600% inflation that a ticket broker throws on top and attendance at these shows has become a near impossibility for many of us. (Yet you'll see a Mom or Dad shell out THOUSANDS of dollars to take their kids to a Britney Spears Concert!!! I just don't get it!!!) kk

A few months ago I wrote about going to see Johnny Rivers, at what was basically a high school auditorium. I had known for a while he was going to appear but didn't buy tickets for many of the reasons that have already been stated. I believe the tix were priced at $25.00 each, more than fair until you get to the user fees already described. It wasn't until I heard someone talking at a St. Louis record show a couple weeks beforehand that they were offering 2 for 1. Now all of a sudden it becomes affordable since I had a 200 mile round trip ahead of me. I remember my first concerts I attended had a 25 cent service fee. Accounting for inflation, I suppose even a $5.00 service fee wouldn't be out of line these days. But you're right, when you add in gas, going out to eat before or afterwards, a tour book, t-shirt and who knows what else, this becomes a pretty pricey adventure. They were also offering insurance, I forget how much, but I bought it anyways since it was going to be a long ride and you never know. As it turns out the car did start acting up and that Monday we had to get a new set of spark plugs. It could have been a lot worse, so I'm glad I got the protection although I didn't use it. Now for the big name shows, the most I've ever paid for a ticket is $65.00 to see Bob Seger from the nosebleed section. I won't do that again. For the $100 and up per ticket price they had better get Elvis up there performing and I don't mean Elvis Costello. Remember the outrage at $30 a ticket for the Jackson's Victory tour? It seems like a bargain now. But it was at least $10 over the average going rate then. A year later I paid $15.00 to go to the first Farm Aid concert. There's only one way to voice your opinion, don't go. I'd rather spend $10 to $20 to see some blues performer or local band. Many a time it's a better show. Fleetwood Mac doesn't need your money.
Jack (Rock And Roll Never Forgets)
There was a big stink about the price of the Paul McCartney tickets a few years ago when Frannie and I went to his "Chaos In The Backyard" Tour ... HE certainly didn't need the money either. (Of course this was BEFORE the whole Heather Mills settlement fiasco!!! lol) But Macca justified his ticket prices by doing a cost comparison of other major acts on tour that year ... and priced himself accordingly. I suppose that makes sense on some level ... we've been told that many artists make three or four times as much money TOURING as they do in record royalties, especially THESE days when record sales are at an all-time low. Truth is, people forget the cost of all the hired help it takes a major artist to put on such a show ... we tend to look only at the musicians on stage and leave it at that ... yet a tour like McCartney's probably brings a road crew of a couple hundred people ... plus the costs of buses, airplanes, food, lodging, etc, etc, etc. Add in the lights, videoscreens and special effects (fireworks for "Live And Let Die" for example) and you've put together a pretty pricey package. And, at $150 per ticket, his shows EASILY sell out, proving that this is a price that people are willing to pay to see him. We've seen shows recently where the actual face value was $350 per ticket!!! Add in the service charges or, worse yet, the brokers' fees if you aren't lucky enough to buy a ticket at the ticket window ... and pretty soon you're taking out a second mortgage to see Steely Dan or The Eagles!!! (kk)

I was reading your comments on Ticketmaster and concert tickets in general. I have to say, I agree with Fred's and your take on things, but I have a little bit of a different perspective as well. As a concert goer, I agree with you that ticket prices are way too high. Then with the added fees and parking, concessions, and souvenirs, it does cost an arm and a leg to go see anyone these days. I, too, remember the days of camping out in line when you really wanted to get a good ticket for a concert, only to end up getting seats halfway back (if you were lucky) even 'tho you were first in line. But at least you felt like you had an even chance back then. And tickets were not as expensive, even 'tho we earned a lot less money, too. I paid $5.50 to see the Beatles at Sox park in 1965, and that was the top price of a ticket!!!! Those days, unfortunately, are long gone. The thing that ticked me off the most was when I went to get tickets for Simon & Garfunkel a few years ago. I went to a Ticketmaster outlet at a department store. I was there before the store even opened the first day the tickets went on sale, and I was first in line. Then, as you said, they decided they needed to have a lottery, and guess who got the last number?? Then, on top of that, the people in front of me in line weren't even there to buy tickets for the same show! They had several shows going on sale all at the same time, so I still had to wait in line behind everyone else getting tickets for other concerts, while meanwhile people online and at other Ticketmaster outlets were getting seats for the show I wanted to see!!! I ended up with tickets in the third balcony, and you KNOW I was really p.o'd!!! Then when we got to the show, we couldn't see because of the way they had set up the stage, so we went to the box office to complain, and gee, they had tickets two balconies down and several sections closer to the stage!!! Interesting, huh? So I know they hold back good tickets, and you're right, it isn't fair. If I'm willing to wait in line and pay that much for a ticket to see someone, I think I deserve the best seat available.
But, on the other side, since I work at a couple of entertainment venues around town, I realize that, while I'm sure a lot of it is the promoter or the venue that makes a buck, some of it is just the fact that expenses are so high. Most places have loads of union stagehands, electricians, carpenters, etc. working on unloading the trucks and setting up the stage for the concerts we see. The lighting and pyrotechnics take a lot of work, and you don't want something to go wrong with that stuff. Not to mention, the bands all have travel expenses, truck drivers, bus drivers, catering, insurance, wardrobe people, security, guest services, police and paramedics on duty, parking lot attendants, concessions employees, etc. etc. So while I agree that ticket prices are in general, way too high, perhaps knowing all the people who are working behind the scenes and have to be paid too, helps a little to justify the price. I was amazed when I started working these shows to see all the background stuff that goes into them that you never think about. But I guess as the shows and the theatrics become bigger, so then does the price for it. So what do we do ... are we willing to see a scaled down show without all the extras, or does that all add to the experience of the concert, and is it worth it???? I'm not really sure, myself. But anyway, just some things to think about ... and I'm sure your readers will have lots of opinions. But remember, they're all working people, even the ones cleaning the bathrooms at the venue, and they deserve to be paid too!
Yes, as stated above, it's many of these behind-the-scenes costs that nobody sees that add to the price of the tickets. However, I don't believe that Ticketmaster helps pay for ANY of the cost of all the stage hands, parking lot attendants, concession people or any of these other "behind-the-scenes" costs associated with the actual venue hosting the concert out of their service charges ... THAT money goes directly into their OWN pockets. I can see how the VENUE may be entitled to something for that (and most ticket purchases DO include SOMETHING for the venue these days, typically around $3.50-$5.00 per ticket, which is more than fair ... if that was the ONLY extra being added to your bill.) If I'm not mistaken, when one of these shows is cancelled, the refund you receive is for the cost of the ticket ONLY ... Ticketmaster still KEEPS their tacked-on service charge!!! So THEY make money no matter what!!! The artists lose ... and the fans lose ... and that just ain't right. SOMETHING needs to be done to correct this imbalance. I don't have a sure-fire solution ... And, quite honestly, I was hoping that some of your comments might inspire some suggestions. Sometimes just by discussing some options, it'll spark an idea or two that ultimately could reach a solution ... so we'll keep this dialog open for a little while should any more of you wish to weigh in on the subject. And please remember that this discussion started at the BASE level ... we haven't even BEGUN to attack the subject of these ticket brokers who are inflating these prices five times more!!! (kk)