While one can’t necessarily draw conclusions about whether or not those of whom participate in or merely peruse GloNo are, in a word, snobs, based on what may be construed as evidence of what’s really hot and what’s not as correlated with the various and sundry top-10 or other significant-whole-number lists shown here certainly provides more than a hint that there are some noses in the air.
Quick question: What concert was number-one in 2007 based on data from Ticketmaster including (1) online page views, (2) information requests, (3) ticket sales?
Live Nation, which ended talks with Ticketmaster in August, was bullish on the decision, terming it “limited investment.” The key, and Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino has repeated this often, is to control customer data, increase the amount of interaction with concert-goers and to capitalize on expanded distribution channels and sponsorship opportunities.
Is this the ultimate battle between two evils? What’s that saying about my enemy’s enemies?
During a recent visit to Nashville, I had an opportunity to visit the Emerald Studio. Architecturally blocky and office-cum-warehouse on the outside; a state-of-the-art facility with polished wood surfaces and an array of electronics on the inside, yet a sense of being a place where work is done in a creative manner, not some sort of antiseptic environment where the creativity would be predicated on the technology. And I learned about how Nashville does charting in a way that makes the traditional approaches used in other parts of the music business seem molasses slow. There I watched part of a session. And had the opportunity to talk with one of the musicians, a long-time steel guitar session player. While he has had the opportunity to play on the road with some of the genre’s notables, mainly what he does is get called in to places like the Emerald to ply his craft, or art. He’s been doing it for more than 20 years. What, I asked him, is it like today, versus how it was in days gone by: different? better? same? Consider that this is a man who must play to get pay. A man with a family and a mortgage and truck payments and insurance and. . . all of the stuff that ordinary people deal with, yet while many people have day jobs that provide them with the means to financially deal with all of that, he has chosen a route that is far different. He is not a name-brand musician. He’s the sort of person whose name is on the liner notes in a comparatively diminutive font. He’s not complaining about this, mind you. But it strikes me that he—like many of the musicians who play the very fabric of much music that we hear (or not)—have taken a path whereby their livelihood depends on how good they were their last time out, and whether they can get another gig. He’s not complaining about this, mind you. It is what he does. But it is one thing to think about making a living this way when you’re in, say, your twenties and another thing entirely when you’ve pushed past 50 and are still living out the consequences of the earlier decision.
I hate TicketMaster with an unbridled passion that sometimes scares my friends. I’ve contemplated all kinds of ways to dethrone the tyrants. But the only way that really makes sense is to just stop going to shows where tickets are only sold via TicketMaster, and to go to the actual box office for venues that still have one.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of live Rock and Roll. It is our Right, it is our Duty, to throw off TicketMaster, and to provide a new System of purchasing tickets.
I’m not sure how the new system should work, but Sunday morning, sitting on the cement outside the Chicago Theater waiting for the box office to open so I could go see Beck and the Flaming Lips, I started to question the value of my principles.
Some homies and I were talking this weekend about who we would be willing to pay $30 to see these days. (I think $30 is a magic number because that’s what the top-dollar tours cost when I was in high school, but the specific dollar amount is irrelevant.) We only came up with about two artists; who they were escapes me right now. (I know we did agree that if David Lee Roth toured with Van Halen, we’d go, but that’s beside the point.) Inevitably, when this topic came up, much ranting and raving about Ticketmaster ensued. Of course, we all know that Ticketmaster does us with no vaseline. The question is, why do we still pay? Is it really worth it to go see a live gig if we’re paying what usually amounts to a minimum 40% surcharge?
Consider: Wilco is my favorite national touring act right now. I’ve seen them enough times over the past few years that it’s difficult to remember to establish an accurate count, but the number is over five. They are playing on Oct. 5 here in Detroit. Tickets cost $17. That would normally be a no-brainer, right? After all, $17 is less than the cost of four beers at a show. But the problem is, the venue they’re playing at has no box office, so I’d be stuck buying tickets from Ticketmaster.
And how much does that $17 ticket cost if I go to Ticketmaster’s Web site and buy it there? That’ll be $26.45, thank you very much sir may I please have another? (For those not too quick with a calculator, that’s a 55.6% service charge—none of which is going to the venue, by the way.)
Now someone please tell me how that’s more of a “convenience” than buying the ticket at the club on one of the several odd occasions that I will actually be there hanging out between now and October? Better yet, explain to me why any of you are willing to buy a Ticketmaster ticket to another event, period. I, for one, am hereby swearing off any and all Ticketmaster events. There’s enough cool stuff to do in this world without giving my cash to this monopoly.