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.

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  • Neil Johnson on

    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.

  • rich on

    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

  • Ryan on

    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!

  • Joseph on

    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!

  • vince on

    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.

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