In an era when music fans have seen ticket prices creep up into the triple digits all to often, Kid Rock decided to launch an offensive.
All the tickets for his new tour, which includes a July 12 stop at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford, will be priced at $20. In addition, the first two rows at each venue will be taped off for upgrades for ticketholders hand-selected during the concert. Kid Rock is also promoting paperless ticketing, a measure that helps prevent high-priced ticket resales. T-shirts at the concerts will cost $20, and even the ridiculous cost of a beer will be slashed to $4.
A thousand so-called “Platinum Tickets,” some of the best seats in the house, are normally bought by ticket resalers and sold for higher than face value. In a press release, Kid Rock said his tour is effectively buying these tickets, then ‘scalping’ them back to the public at the $20 rate.
“Everyone knows the economy is still hurting people across the country, but I didn’t want that to be a reason why everyone couldn’t get out and enjoy themselves on a summer night,” Kid Rock said in the press release.
The elaborate move will likely please a lot of music fans, many of whom continue to gripe about the astronomical cost to see a concert, yet continue filling up venues.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kid Rock says he worked with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino to come up with the money saving deal for fans.
“I said to them, ‘Look, I’ll go in as your partner. Don’t guarantee me a dime; if nobody shows up, I’ll lose money.’” Rock told Rolling Stone. “‘Let’s put the money in a pot at the end of the night and figure out, based on the numbers, what I’ll get paid.’ Even if it sells out, I’ll take a pay cut. Fortunately, I’m able to do that.”
In other words for all the effort and all the price cuts, Kid Rock the artist is the one with a thinner profit margin.
“The face value of the ticket, that’s primarily what the artist gets,” said Jacqueline Peterson, Senior Vice President for Corporate Communication at Ticketmaster, in an interview Thursday afternoon. “That’s something that the artists and their management teams set and that’s what they make.”
Recently it hasn’t been all that uncommon to see ticket prices exceed $100, not even including processing fees through Ticketmaster or other ticket sellers.
Recent examples: Tickets for Eric Clapton at Mohegan this past weekend went for $135 and $185. The best tickets for P!nk on March 27 went for $110. Good seats at Rihanna’s concert at the XL Center on March 15 cost $125, as will the recently announced Hot Jam with Kendrick Lamar on May 31. Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 tickets at the Comcast top out at $93.50, and seats for Tony Bennett at Ives Concert Park will cost you $86. Those numbers do not include ticket processing fees.
Peterson says that as far as Ticketmaster and their fees are concerned, business concerts and the web of players involved restrict what can be done to lower the service fees charged to buy a ticket.
“Ticketmaster can’t just make the decision to do all-in pricing or change that, because there’s so many stakeholders in the industry that we can’t unilaterally make that decision,” she said, citing costs that trickle down to everything from Ticketmaster customer service agents, computer servers, and the employees at a venue. “But we’ve tried to do what we can to present the price that [consumers] would pay as soon as we can in the purchasing process.”
Fan Freedom, an advocacy group funded by online ticket seller StubHub, that claims to push for fairer ticket prices to concerts and sporting events,** had a mixed response to Kid Rock’s tour.
“It’s refreshing to see an artist admit to doing what everyone else in the industry is doing, and that’s scalping their own tickets,” said communications director Chris Grimm in a statement. “But Kid Rock is still far from fan-friendly. While we applaud him for being transparent and honest with fans about scalping his own tickets, we wish he wouldn’t treat his fans like scalpers by using restricted tickets.”
Will something like this become more of a trend than a one-off tour stunt?
“I think that answer will likely depend on what happens with this tour,” Peterson said. “Kid Rock is an innovator, and this is a great idea. But he and everyone else has admitted this is a risk. It will either be an awesome summer, or it might be a bit of a long summer.”
We’ll see. If successful the tour would be a fantastic precedent and great for music fans everywhere. However by reasonable estimates, the concept likely won’t be catching fire.
Conflicts over ticket prices seem to happen with regular frequency, though little has changed. Who could forget Pearl Jam’s (unsuccessful) battle with Ticketmaster? Even Bruce Springsteen, the working class hero with his pushes for paperless ticketing and lower prices, still performed at the XL Center last year for either $68 or $101 per ticket plus fees.
There was a pretty big outcry late last year over the astronomically expensive cost to see the Rolling Stones ($754 as a base ticket), yet those concerts sold out easily.
Ultimately, does anyone really believe that ticket prices will come down any time soon when consumers are still willing to fill a 10,000 person venue at $150 a seat? Every Connecticut concert mentioned above was sold out, and the ones which haven’t happened yet will likely do the same.
Because despite all the complaining, consumer whining, and ‘too expensive’ refrains, this is still a business of supply and demand.
Any thoughts on the topic? Have you ever missed a concert you wanted to go to because prices were too damn high? Comment below…
** An earlier version of this article did not acknowledge the relationship between the Fan Freedom advocacy group and ticket auction site StubHub