7/26: THE CONCERT BIZ TODAY

Concerts out there are hurting. Sure no artist is ever going to tell you this, but it is the truth. I get the calls everyday from promoters and agents looking for help selling shows big, medium and small. It’s a real issue out there right now. You may even go to a show and think it’s full, but in reality it’s not. That’s called “papering the house”, meaning giving tickets away in mass amounts just to have people in the room to make it look good, sell a T shirt or a beer. Now many have said sales are rough because “rock is dead”. However I do not believe that to be the case. In my view two words sums up the live music industry right now; OVER SATURATION. Simply put, bands are over touring to make up for the fact that almost nobody is making money on album sales. Used to be you toured to sell the album, which is where the money was made. Now it’s reverse. The album is almost the giveaway to promote a tour. But WAY too many bands are out there WAY too long, some hitting major markets three times in a year. I get they need to make money and don’t fault them, but it makes it less special when you can see a favorite band twice a year VS once every two. People simply can’t afford to pay to see all these shows and see a band so many times. As a result everyone is being more selective, and you are seeing more and more bands downsize venues, but still staying on the road. I also think peoples attention is in way too many places to make all these shows a priority. You can see in a second set lists online, audio, video, the mystique is gone. Of course the mega bands will always do okay, but don’t be fooled, the business is not what you think it is or what they project even for them. The days of a 50 city non stop US tour are rare. Bands find special events or festivals or co-headline because they can’t draw enough as a headline in arenas on their own, and those that can are charging way too much. Not sure where the solution lies but it’s something I see and hear about often. I truly do not think rock is dead, but I do think the touring world and peoples attention are so overwhelmed right now with too many options its hard to know what’s going on? Hope it works itself out because the live stage is where this music is best served, but it is an issue I hear about all the time behind the scenes. Look forward to reading your thoughts.

Comments

  1. it’s a blessing and a curse living in Iowa. The curse is that we generally don’t get a lot of selection for bands coming around here, the blessing is that when they do we can usually get a pretty good spot. Gone are the days that AC/DC, Aerosmith and the BIG bands come to town to rock. I try to make 4-5 shows a year but cost is the big thing. I refuse to go to a show and watch the video monitor , I’d rather watch the DVD. So I will pay the more expensive rate to get up close. This year I have seen Slash , Tesla with Motley Crue and I’ll see Ratt, Sebastian Bach, Dokken & Lita Ford in a couple of weeks. I have the option of Shinedown & Papa Roach but we will see. Again the major issues with some bands is the set lists. You know you are always gonna get the hits whether you like it or not. I’d love to see Def Leppard where they didn’t play a song off Pyromania or Hysteria. I would really enjoy that set. Anyway rock on Eddie

  2. lorzav3 says:

    my first show was ’78 angel/nugent cost of tickets $10 I have seen several bands in their prime some with the original line ups-pete willis(def lep) ufo(ms),maiden(dianno) sucky ozzy(rhandy rhoades)rainbow,riot,,journey(rollie),and a few more bands however as I got older and ticket prices increased I took a break from bands I wanted to see,i am a huge *TOOL fan and have seen them in a small 2,000/1,000 grocery store turned into a concert hall.my point is I wait to see who I really want too,i just saw *CREED for the first time,i finally saw *Maiden after 20 plus years(beast tour was the last time I saw them live) the scorpions opened up.we paid close to $300 for two tickets to see *Van Freakin Halen and it was well worth the price.bnads I will pay to see bands I want to see but bands I like I keep separate,there are many bands I wouldn’t pay to see.i haven’t see rush since permant waves and have no desire to see them.the priest is the same way,rob zombie I saw with white zombie no desire to see him,nin,manson,i haven’t seen kiss since the dynasty tour. I tend to wait it out besides some albums plain suck or pop rock radio friendly end the end its all PR WORK.

  3. All these bands without their lead singers of old just blow…rip-off, then you get Axl or Sebastian out there with garbage compared to old. Tommy Thayer pretending to be Ace. Black Sabbath papers the house. 4 acts on a bill (or more) translates: we are broke, we need money.

  4. I honestly believe this whole fiasco started with “The Eagles” when they first reunited, they were charging the highest ever on a ticket 200-300 , that was unheard of at the time, Other artists followed believing if the Eagles charged that much and still sell so should we. The trend has continued in today,

    • Chris, you are totally right. They were the first band to have a $100 face value ticket. I saw the Stones around that same time (Voodoo Lounge Tour) and paid $40 for a pretty good seat. Today that same seat would be about $400…unreal.

  5. Todd Fagan says:

    Spot on Ed, of course I know a few BS geeks are gonna lose their minds over talk of the Sabbath tour being papered all to hell.

  6. Neil Johnson says:

    For me, this is such a multi faceted issue. A lot of which has been mentioned, some hasn’t.

    Over saturation is indeed a big part of the problem. But it’s not just the fact that these bands come around every year. A band like Poison has been touring almost non-stop for the last decade (this is one of the first summers in a long time that I recall that they aren’t on tour). Compounding that problem is that they have also been touring the shit out of the same set list for just as long. Want more? When bands like Poison and Motley Crue aren’t touring, you can bet that Bret Michaels and Vince Neil will be on solo tours playing pretty much the same songs they play with their bands. Even worse are the bands that have two versions. Bands like L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Great White, Ratt and now Queensryche have at one time or currently have two touring versions of the same band out on the road. It’s like a franchise. Some of these bands never had a huge fan base to begin with and now they are going to ask a fraction of those fans who still care to choose between versions?

    However, ticket prices are a bigger issue. As I recall, The Eagles were the first band to have an advertised ticket price of $100 for the Hell Freezes Over Tour. The big deal, of course, was that a band who claimed they’d never share the same stage again was embarking on a reunion tour. Fine, I get that. But how do these bands that have been touring for ever justify those ticket prices? Current ticket prices are no longer handled by your entertainment fund, rather they are a legitimate fraction of your paycheck. And of course bands are justifying this because they can no longer make a living selling albums. If you dig deeper though, you’ll find that a lot of these bands all have individual tour buses (because they can’t stand each other), some travel with yoga instructors, therapists and private chefs. Many travel by private jet. Where do you think all of this money comes from to pay all of these people? So, while I would agree that artists can no longer feed their families via album sales, I would also argue that they aren’t doing much to keep ticket prices down for their shows.

    And once you’re in the venue, the real fun begins. $12 Miller Lites and $50 Hanes t-shirts. Meeting the bands used to be an adventure. A rite of passage. Now, it resembles prostitution more than anything else. VIP or Gold Packages where you get to meet the band for an astronomical price (on top of the already inflated ticket prices). I met Motley Crue on the Corabi Crue tour and all it cost me was my time.

    But the question remains, is the cost of admission worth it to see legendary bands? I suppose it depends on your POV. For me, as the ticket prices escalate into the stratosphere, so do my expectations. I’ve seen pretty much everyone I’ve ever wanted to in concert. The only exception would be Van Halen. I’ve seen Roth and Hagar solo, but never Van Halen. I always said that if they ever reunited with Roth (and we all knew it would happen), I’d be there no matter what. When this finally happened 5 or 6 years ago, the ticket prices prevented me from going. And to be honest, if I did, I would have expected Roth to sing more than he typically does. At $25 a ticket, I’ll listen to you drop half the lyrics and won’t care if you spend half the show telling stories and jokes. At $150+ a ticket, I’d actually like you to put some effort into it.

    So, screw the arena shows, right? The problem is even club or theatre shows aren’t cheap. Going to see a show at the House Of Blues can set you back $35- $40 a ticket. Compared to say Bon Jovi or The Stones, you’re talking pennies. But as someone mentioned, I can see dozens of cover or tribute bands in the Chicago area 3 – 4 nights a week, often times with no cover charge. Is it the same? Certainly not, but it does satisfy my urge to hear live music without making me feel like I’ve been prison raped.

    I’ve seen (many versions of) KISS 10 times. I saw some KISS shows that very few people can claim to have seen. I’ve seen Motley 6 or 8 times. I saw GNR on the Bare Bones leg of the Use Your Illusion Tour. I saw The Stones on the Voodoo Lounge Tour. I caught Metallica twice on tour supporting The Black album. I’ve seen AC/DC, The Scorpions, Alice In Chains (Dirt Tour), ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Great White, Faster Pussycat, Winger, Warrant, Poison, Def Leppard, L.A. Guns, Aerosmith, Cinderella, Extreme, Firehouse, Styx, Boston, Foreigner and many others I can’t recall right now. The closest I paid to today’s ticket prices was $100 for the Official KISS Konvention Tour in 95, which was beyond worth it and maybe $75 for a 9th row seat at their supposed Farewell Tour around 2000 (also worth it). The only band I could possibly see shelling out some cash for at this point is GNR, if they ever reunite (preferably the AFD line-up).

    Any more, I am more entertained by plowing through Youtube for concert clips that I was too young to attend. I thoroughly enjoyed KISS’s KISSology DVD series and would spend my money on something like that if band’s like Motley chose to go that route. I’d also spend my money on something like the KISS Konvention if a band I loved embarked on something like that. Something beyond the concert experience. An all day affair that is a celebration of the band. That my friend, is worth the price of admission. I, however, think what Bon Jovi is charging fans to meet them and take home their chair from the show is bat shit crazy.

  7. in 1984 there were about 26 bands from sabbath.. dio.. maiden.. priest.. yngwie..ratt.crue..dokken..motorhead..msg..rainbow you get the picutue?….NOW there is about one thousand bands with a record contract……..Rock and metal will never die its just sleeping in the usa at this point….but it will awaken and kick every ones Ass.just a matter of time.kids are finding out about metal every day just wait and see?And for those old fogies saying it will never be the same..yeah its gonna change grandpa to somthing new just wait?…but there is way to many bands 80 percent should call it a day

  8. You can watch bands on you tube full shows usually day after they play..for free.

    I love the concert atmosphere but I will not pay more than 150 a ticket for a top act.
    Kid Rock’s show here in Tampa..Most of the tickets were 20.00 per seat…he sold those out pretty quick.
    He has a selection of premium seats for 100..Ticket prices are ridiculous..and merch: 45-50 for a shirt!

  9. One of the other major problems in my book is the monopoly better known as Ticketmaster/LiveNation and their insane “service charges” which can almost double the price of tickets. For example look at tonight’s Black Sabbath show in West Palm Beach. Friday afternoon I get an email saying that you can now get reserved seats for $25 plus service charges. Hit the website to check it out and the total with service charges was $40. A $15 dollar or 60% service charge on a $25 ticket????? Ridiculous and the higher the ticket price the higher the SC! It’s freaking ridiculous that this monoploy is permitted to rape concertgoers like this! When I bough tickets to my first concert in 1987, KISS and Ted Nugent in Hollywood FL the total was $16.50 $15 for the ticket $.50 in taxes and a $1.00 service charge! But then again that was when there were many different ticket agencies therefore competition and you didn’t have one major company monopolizing the industry!

  10. For me, it comes down to cost of ticket and dates. Now that I have kids I can not go to shows like I used to. From 1988 to 1997 I was a concert whore. Saw as many bands as I could. My kids are almost to the point where they can be self maintained but still have to provide for them. Would have loved to see Van Halen with DLR but the cost was beyond my wallet.
    Most of the shows that come through are on the week nights, homework and work days factor in to me being a no show.
    I will be checking out Foreigner at the Antelope Valley Fair in mid August because they are playing a Sat and I will have no kids that night.

    Also, you tube allows you to see concerts of your favorite bands. Why pay when you can watch on you tube for free?
    Concerts will come back around full circle. That is how music is. You think a certain genre has faded but soon comes around full circle. Time and patience will only tell.

  11. Personally I could give a $hit about bands making ” thier” money. I hope someday I will be able to go to the corner bar to see these , in their mind, larger than life bands and get in for a few bucks. Right now there are hundreds of great rock/ metal bands out there touring that will blow you away at the local venue every week for hardly no money to get in. I think people want to live in the past and want what they had in the past. Move on people. Who cares about these regurgitated, re done, bands of the past. Their time has come and is now gone. Support newer bands like, Warbringer, Lazarus A.D, Texas Hippe Coalition, Ramming Speed, Hatchet, Valient Thorr, Goatwhore,, Newsted, etc, I could list 100 more. If you don’t know these bands you are living in the past and you need to move on. Screw the whole industry for bilking us out of our hard earned money and stop expecting what has happened in the past with the concert biz. What about these bands of the past bilking us for there “farewell” tours? And the hair band issue, the genre was weak and fake and now 25 years later no one cares but a few mullet heads.

  12. I hate to be the lone voice of dissent here, but I truly believe Rock IS Dead. It pretty much has been since 1991 when Nirvana blew up, but the final nail in the coffin was the internet, downloading, and the general apathy from the younger demographic to basic rock and roll music. The youth of today are more interested in other genres, particularly Electronic Dance Music (EDM). If you google EDM , you will see that this genre fills the same stadiums, arenas, and amphitheaters that our beloved Hard ROck/AOR bands used to fill. It’s a stark reality and nothing is going to change this.

  13. Fred Glass says:

    I saw Texas Hippie Coalition in New York recently, and they were excellent. Even though they played for a small crowd, they seemed to be having a great time on stage and bringing Southern style powered metal to the NYC fans. Lets hope they become as big as ACDC one day. A no nonsense down and dirty band that really plays for the audience. It was all about the sex, drugs, and rock n roll with this band. Lets hope more people find out about Texas Hippie Coalition and give them the proper support that they need. Maybe ACDC, Kiss, or some other major band can take THC out with them on the road and help THC become more popular!

  14. You said it Ed – ditto to all of the comments. I’m sick of being GOUGED to go to a concert from the ticket price, the service fees, the parking, merchandise, beer, soda, etc. Yeah back in the day I went to 30 – 40 concerts a year and it was cheap. Bands/managers/promoters must be out of their minds to think I’m gonna pay $$$ to see some band who’s best days are far behind them. Why pay $100+ to see some band that’ll never be as good as they were back in the 70s,80s, or 90s. You really think KISS, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Ratt, VH, Scorps, BS, etc. are as good today as they were back then? Yeah right. Also I don’t think oversaturation is a problem – I remember when Aerosmith got back together in 84-85 – they played the Chicago/Milwaukee/Madison area every 7 or 8 months for three or four years – and I went to every show – but it only cost probably $10-$15.

    BTW saw VH and Ratt last week in Oshkosh WI for $183 for 30th row. Great show – Eddie’s as good as ever but better than when I saw him in 78,79 etc. Worth the price – Nah!! And there were a lot A LOT of empty reserved seats.

    Anybody else I’d almost rather watch a concert from the 70s or 80s on YT or DVD.

    But again – there’s nothing NOTHING like live metal and rock and roll. Everything else is just a game.

  15. Eddie, your audience has definitely nailed it. I grew up in Lamours in Brooklyn during the magical 80′s and was fortunate to see most of the powerhouse bands in their prime for practically no money.
    The scene was a bit different, and it was electrifying to see bands on their way up, before they were granted the big time at Madison Square Garden. I always preferred to see bands on the smaller stage for obvious reasons. The reason I’m writing is because I always exposed my son to heavy doses of guitar driven music. I’m proud that his Iphone is full of Maiden, Accept, Priest, Zep, etc. But pricing is definitely out of control for most of the shows I would like to see with him. I would have loved to share VH with him, but not for $300. It just doesn’t make any sense. Those concert experiences are just priceless memories for me, and all you would like to do is to pass the torch to the next generation. Keep doing what you do Eddie, thanks for everything.

  16. I agree with most of these post’s.I do think that the reason most of these bands do not sell out venues anymore is because of the cost for regular folks like us.In my opinion it is just GREED!!Why should we shell out 200.00 bucks for a band that has a private jet,publicist,hair stylist,personel trainer,.Not to mention all the service fees(FOR WHAT,AND WHAT IS THE SERVICE FEE?).Some of them forget that they once played the bars.I would rather go to a club and pay 20.00 bucks and see Pat Travers,Y&T,and not have to pay for a meet and greet,At least they aprecciate that truethat fans come to see them live and not on a big screen t.v.And the merch won’t dent the pocket and that they are getting paid.But thank God for Eddie and the boys @TMS!!! P.S. SCREW TICKET MASTER AND LIVE NATION….LET’S GO BACK TO THE BARS!!!!

    • @Carlos! I completely agree. Most of the touring artists forget where they come from…nothing! They all talk about how they can ‘relate’ to the average American making an average salary, what a load of BS THAT is! None of them can relate, because if they could, NO one would be paying more then $50-100 for any concert tix..OR service fees. Bon Jovi is a prime example of how he describes his audience..working-class America, who prefers beer to wine. I’m like really, just look @ the cost of their ticket prices, those are WAY above average costs. You almost have to be RICH to afford their shows & get any kind of good seats!

  17. ROCK ME BABY!!!

  18. Its just not music, I work for a company thats a major sponser of the local arena and theater. Almost every show, regardless of what it is, from Seaseme Street Live to the WWE is strugglling. I actually have free tickets to an upcoming WWE taping so the place looks full on TV. We get offers all the time for free and reduced tickets to the majority of the events.

  19. I agree with most of what you say, but without wanting to sound like a whiner, some areas have the opposite problem. I live in New Orleans, which is without a doubt a major city, and which is host to a large regional following for hard rock and metal bands. Sure, we get a few arena shows (Rush, Kid Rock), and there are periodic club shows (The Cult comes here every tour, as does Gwar), but for the most part we are shunned for some reason, either by bands or by promoters. I will never see UFO again, which breaks my heart, and probably will never see Maiden here, unless they somehow get booked for Voodoo festival, which is featuring less hard rock and metal every year. I would never have seen Metallica or Ozzy here if not for Voodoo, but this year the closest that fest has to a hard rock act is Nine Inch Nails. Maybe they can talk AC/DC into playing Jazz Fest.

    • Where bands play all comes down to promoters offering them dates in that city and the money they are asking. If a band doesn’t play your city mainly because there isn’t a promoter there willing to buy the show because they don’t feel they can make money

  20. I think all these artists/venues/promoters price themselves out of biz! With the crazy high prices of concert tix AND the outrageous cost that Live Nation & Ticketmaster charge for service fees that many can NOT afford, less people are attending concerts. Between that and all of the ‘presales’ by radio stations, ‘fanclub’ and all the tix that others buy-up before tix go on sale to the general public, no one wants the rest of the BAD seats!

  21. I don’t think rock is dead, but it’s certainly not mainstream like it was until the mid-90s on the radio. Top 40 stations no longer play rock music, so you have to find a rock-formated station if you wish to hear rock on terrestrial radio. I attend a lot of concerts and most of the shows I attend are packed or close to it. I saw Billy Idol at a sold out Tabernacle in Atlanta in June. The following night, I saw Fleetwood Mac at a packed Philips Arena in Atlanta. I saw the Counting Crows at an almost sold out Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, New Hamphsire, in June as well. I saw Geoff Tate’s Queensryche at a packed Ace of Spades in Sacramento in April. I saw The Who at a sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles in January. I’m seeing The Cult, Iron Maiden, and Pearl Jam later this year. Then in October, I’m going to the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Ausin to see bands such as The Cure, Depeche Mode, Wilco, and many, many others. ACL has sold out already. So, from my personal standpoint, I’ve been going to a lot of popular shows as of late. The big music festivals are very popular and sell tickets (or writstbands) out at events such as ACL, Coachella, and Bonnaroo. Worth noting, from my perspective, is that I don’t buy the most expensive seats; I settle for the $40.00 or $50.00 tickets in the upper level when the show is at a large arena. I saw Van Halen from the rafters at the New Orleans Arena last summer, but I’m fine with that because I just want to get into the house and have no desire to be front and center down on the floor. But, I go to my fair share of club and theatre shows where I can obviously be right in the middle of the action.

  22. I was so saddened to see the attendance at Gignatour in Camden, NJ last week. I was looking forward to seeing Newsted, BLS, and Megadeth and even got the Newsted Experience VIP which was so worth $114 but when Newsted came on at around 4:30 there WAS NO ONE FOR THEM TO PLAY TO! I mean there may have been about 100 people in an entire ampitheater!. It didn’t get much better until Megadeth came on around 9 o’clock when the pavillion filled in but no lawn seats at all….I really felt horrible for the bands despite the kick ass performance of Newsted, BLS, and Megadeth. David Draiman and Device even signed free posters and took pics with everyone in attendance! To me this is the best music alive and I CANNOT STAND THIS CRAP IN THE TOP 40 AND ON THE RADIO!!!!!!!!!! I only hope that rock does not die out because this music that the producers, promoters, MTV, and radio is playing now is so sanitized, without passion or a true message, and without EVEN MUSICAL TALENT! Most can’t even write their own music, nor play an instrument! They are selling image, not talent and it is KILLING ROCK! (P.S. I don’t consider bands like “Asking Alexandra” a REAL rock band!….Look at them for Chrissakes!

    • That tour was plagued by poor attendance sadly. Strange to me because I thought the bill was very strong. But there were poor showings in many of the cities from what I have heard.

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