Tag Archives: Ticketmaster

Tickets, Old Records & the Consequences of Ill-Health

But Does It Scale?

While no one seems to like Ticketmaster (possibly not even those who work there), let’s face it: fatally flawed though the operation may seem or be, when it comes to providing access to a large number of people (and apparently an equally large number of bots), it (more or less) gets the job done.

Alternatives are few.

But Maggie Rogers created one.

For her U.S. summer tour she instituted in-person, box office sales.

That’s right: get in line and when you get to the window, pick your seats. And you are limited to picking two.

Rogers isn’t completely eliminating the refresh/refresh/refresh approach to getting seats.

But minimizing it.

Credit to her for trying.

Here’s something to think about:

Nowadays tour dates are announced several months in advance. (I often wonder how someone knows in, say, April what they will be doing in a particular night in December—there is something to be said for planning ahead, but while something like a vacation may need that sort of decision, it would seem that a night out would be less demanding—but then that goes to the point of how expensive tickets, in general, have gotten, so the commitment is like that of an inclusive resort.)

With that sort of lead time, it would be possible to have mail-order tickets, even were the U.S. Postal System reliant on the Pony Express.

Continue reading Tickets, Old Records & the Consequences of Ill-Health

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

Although you don’t often see barrels anymore unless you live in Tuscany, the notion of shooting fish in a barrel is actually quite bizarre.

There is a 53-gallon white oak container full of bourbon water and for some reason it is full of fish. Someone takes out a Mossberg 930 Waterfowl and begins blasting away. Not only is there going to be a lot of fish viscera inside the barrel, but the barrel is going to be full of holes, so clearly that’s not something you’d want to do.

But the phrase is not cautionary. Rather, it is one that refers to how easy something is to do.

Oddly, however, it isn’t like that description of perch or koi or other gill-bearing animals idly going back and forth in a container.

It seems that it is based on when in a pre-refrigeration age fish were packed in barrels with ice. These fish weren’t swimming anywhere. Were someone to shoot in the barrel, odds were really good that something would be hit.

The phrase comes to mind regarding Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour ticketing and Ticketmaster.

Continue reading Shooting Fish in a Barrel

The Price of Performance

“Keep me searching for a pot of gold/And I’m growing old”—with apologies to Neil Young

For the past several months, climate activists in London have been staging protests at the British Museum. They want the institution to stop taking sponsorship money from bp. bp (formerly British Petroleum) is, of course, an oil and gas company. There is probably a bp station close by to where you are right now. The company says, “Our purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet. We want to help the world reach net zero and improve people’s lives.” I don’t know what “reimagining energy” means. Probably some clever copywriter came up with that term. It is hard to imagine (to say nothing of reimagine) precisely how a company that is primarily predicated on drilling holes to pump out fossil fuels that are then processed so that they can be combusted in various things like motor vehicles is going to get to net zero, even by 2050 because as long as these carbon-based fuels are burned, the consequences are, well, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “the substances produced when gasoline is burned (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons) contribute to air pollution. Burning gasoline also produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.”

Just how the elimination of the sponsorship by bp for the 990,000-square-foot history museum—which, by the way, has free admission—is going to have an effect on the chemistry of combustion or on the use of petrol there or gasoline here is difficult to suss, but there is something to be said for the pluck of those stalwart Brits who are gluing themselves to things like paintings to prove their dedication to the mission. (What, I wonder, do they do when they have to go to the loo? Bust out the nail polish remover and make a quick break?).

Whether it is a museum or a band, the importance of sponsorship—a.k.a., funding—is absolutely important.

Continue reading The Price of Performance

I Can’t Dance

“Did you hear that Genesis is touring?”

A friend called and asked me that. He knew that I’d have little interest in that. But it was good to hear from him, as the pandemic has meant that we’ve not seen one another for many, many months. He is a fan of what he, and presumably Martha Quinn, affectionately refers to as the “Big 80s,” which I suppose is a bit of nostalgia that we could all benefit from nowadays. (Nostalgia for something, not necessarily the 80s.)

“I thought Phil Collins was near dead,” he continued, not making some sort of ageist comment but being completely serious about it.

That led me, later, to a search that took me to British tabloids. As a lede in the Mirror has it in a story published earlier this year: “The master drummer has been plagued by agonising health issues for a decade, starting when he injured a vertebrae in his upper neck while performing in 2009.”

The poor bastard has suffered from all sorts of health-related issues, perhaps the most troubling for a drummer, master of otherwise, is nerve damage to his foot, which was caused by the surgery to fix his neck. This condition is called “foot drop,” which, according to the Mayo Clinic: “If you have foot drop, the front of your foot might drag on the ground when you walk. Foot drop isn’t a disease. Rather, foot drop is a sign of an underlying neurological, muscular or anatomical problem.” Collins was to have performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016 yet had to cancel two dates because he had gotten up at night to go to the bathroom while staying in a hotel and took a header due to the foot drop, which led to a brief hospitalization. And you might have imagined that being a rock star is glamorous. Yes, those “agonizing health issues” did lead him to do some serious drinking, which evidently he now has under control.

So while the 70 year old walks with a cane and has had one of his kids fill in for him on drums, he is apparently not “near dead,” because I suspect the tabloids would have been making that point in massive headline type.

Still, it seems as though the man going out on tour is a definition of, dare I say (prepare to groan), “against all odds.” (When is it time to quit?, I wonder.)

Continue reading I Can’t Dance

Living the Live Nation Life

When Live Nation announced its earnings for Q1 2020, they were down 20% year over year, which is surprisingly not bad. Convert revenue was down 25% and ticketing off 16% compared to the same quarter in 2019. According to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, “Globally, over 90% of fans are holding on to their tickets where refunds are available, which is the clearest demonstration of pent up demand that will enable us to quickly start concerts back up.”

Of course, there are other considerations as to why a number of those people may still have their tickets, which has absolutely nothing to do with their fervor to see a show.

For one thing, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, as I am writing this there are 3,965.863 total confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, of which 1,284.708 are in the U.S. There have been 275,527 deaths, of which 77,201 are in the U.S.

Presumably there are a whole lot of people on the planet who have been otherwise occupied.

And given that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in the U.S. in April, bringing the overall unemployment rate to 14.5%, odds are that even if they have a cache of ducats, they’re probably spending their time trying to file for unemployment benefits than dealing with trying to get refunds for tickets, as expensive as those tickets may be.

But CEOs must be optimistic.

Live Nation put out some stats with its earnings numbers that are lack only a bright, big smiley face.
For example, according to a survey it conducted, “when event restrictions are lifted”—which in some states can’t happen fast enough, which makes one wonder about what the governors of those states really think about their governed—the most “likely attended type of event” will be. . .live music.

Continue reading Living the Live Nation Life

A Hamburger Today: The Wimpy Approach to Tickets

One of the cartoon characters that has pretty much disappeared from the scene is Popeye the Sailor Man, the bizarrely configured individual with forearms the size of barrels and upper arms the size of twigs. He gained strength from eating spinach, not of the variety that most people might be familiar with from salads (which often had a warm bacon dressing, canceling any of the nutritional benefits), but from a can that he would crush in the middle such that it popped out of the top for quick consumption. Popeye needed the strength to take on his rival, Bluto, or Brutus, which at some point was claimed to be a set of twins, who typically was kidnapping Olive Oyl, Popeye’s girlfriend. Not even a 1980 Robert Altman movie starring Robin Williams (Popeye) and Shelley Duvall (Olive Oyl) with a screenplay by Jules Feiffer music by Harry Nilsson could save the strip.

At this point you are probably wondering whether you’ve accidentally stumbled onto some comic-book related website or that GloNo has transformed during this time of working from home.

Well, not exactly.

There is another Popeye Universe character that has recently come to mind: Wimpy. Apparently his full name is J. Wellington Wimpy. Something of a ne’er-do-well who seemingly came from a place of higher station and has fallen to a lower one. And who has become a con.

Wimpy’s catch phrase is: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

And you know that Tuesday never comes, even if it is Monday.

Even with states “opening up,” the likelihood that there will be concerts of any size anytime soon is slimmer than Olive Oyl.

Yet there are companies including Ticketmaster and AEG have sold tickets for concerts, and seem to be having a refund policy that would be familiar to Wimpy. You can get your money back on Tuesday.
Part of the approach is that a concert must be officially canceled or new dates have to be set for the show before a refund is considered.

Continue reading A Hamburger Today: The Wimpy Approach to Tickets

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Morrissey’s U.S. tour started this week and ticket sales are less than fantastic. In fact they pretty much suck. I am aware of this because I have been tracking the resale market over the summer, as I ruminate on attending. I feel miserable about the pending show here, which is perhaps appropriate given Moz’s penchant for writing and performing songs celebrating that emotion. Except in this case my misfortune stems from having bought tickets months ago in the presale.

We’ll get to the “Morrissey: Provocateur, dick, racist, or all of the above?” question eventually, but let’s start with the presale. If you are as frequent a concertgoer as I am, you probably understand the double-edged sword that is the fan presale. For some artists, it is the singular way fans can get tickets at face value—which is already a total screw-job, but at least better than buying in the even more jacked up secondhand market. Tickets cost astronomical sums these days, far outpacing inflation compared to a decade ago. Staggering tack-on fees don’t help, but grumbling about that seems like yet another a quaint relic of the ’90s, like rock bands that play actual guitars. If you want to see big name touring artists who sell out venues, you’re going to get robbed, period.

But what about those performers who don’t sell out their shows right away? They still have presales. Plenty of their tickets still get diverted to the scalper market and posted on Stubhub and the like for outrageous sums. At least initially. But then the supply and demand teeter-totter often swings back and throws the fan into the dirt. The show doesn’t sell out at all. Not initially, not after a few months, not ever. The promoters then panic and start offering tickets at TJ Maxx prices. This sucks for the fan that many months before shelled out face, as the value of those tickets plummets.

Change your mind? Change of plans? Can’t get the day off/find a babysitter/afford to go anymore because the economy tanked and you lost your job? You’re screwed. Don’t need as many tickets because your buddies bail? Hope those assholes paid you because otherwise you’ll never recoup your outlay.

Continue reading Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

New Ticket “Service” (?)

“I think we will make each other better,” Tim Leiweke, chief executive of AEG Live, is quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying in relation to the launching of Axs Ticketing on August 27.

The “other,” as you might expect, is Ticketmaster.

One can only assume that expectations need not be particularly high vis-à-vis the improvement that Leiweke seems to be expecting. Or one might ask who it will be “better” for? The ticket buyer, who is essentially getting pole axed every time s/he sources a ticket, or for the so-called “service” that is selling them. Check the fees that you end up paying even though you do the ordering work, and you can get your answer.

And here’s an interesting passage from the WSJ story by Ethan Smith: “AEG, together with start-up Outbox Enterprises Inc., has spent nearly 18 months building the new service.” That’s good.

Probably. But Smith continues, “AEG, also a partial owner of Outbox, is the second-largest concert promoter in the world, behind Live Nation.”

That’s “Live Nation” as in “Live Nation Entertainment Inc.” which is a part of. . .Ticketmaster.

Swell. Ticketmaster owns #1 and AEG has a piece of #2.

Somehow this whole “better” thing is sounding less good.

A Fool and His or Her Money…

Deal with it.For the past few years, after the music industry’s fortunes went bottom-up and, consequently, the performing artists got even more taken to the Vaseline jar than they previously had, it seemed that the only way that performers would be able to make a quasi-reasonable living was through live performances. The return from the shows wouldn’t be predicated on the take from the tickets, but from whatever swag they were able to sell to the faithful.

After all, one of the issues vis-à-vis ticket sales was that there were corporate interests involved in many of the venues, which worked to their favor. “They,” not incidentally, were Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which are now a singular pronoun.

Continue reading A Fool and His or Her Money…

Live Nation gets $78 per fan

According to Live Nation‘s Q2 2009 Earnings Call for investors, the concert industry seems to be doing pretty well despite the fact that it’s down a little:

Overall, for the quarter our revenue per fan was $78.16 compared to $81.82 in the second quarter of last year. The drop of 4.5 is all because of declines in our revenue due to currency changes. On a constant currency basis our 2009 revenue per fan would have been $84.24, an increase of 3%.

I’m not exactly sure how that “revenue per fan” calculation is derived, but it sounds to me like people are paying an average of about $80 per ticket for Live Nation concerts these days. I tend to avoid big shows like that, but damn, does that sound right? Is that what you people are paying? Or is this just the U2, Madonna, Jay-Z and Nickelback crowd?

And what do you suppose is going to happen to that “revenue per fan” line item once Live nation inevitably merges with Ticketmaster?

Via Billboard.

Previously: Ticketmaster/Live Nation vs. Senate Judiciary Committee; Senate Urges Review of Ticketmaster-Live Nation Merger. And, coincidentally, on this same day in 2001 we were discussing which bands we’d “be willing to pay $30 to see” (Fuck Ticketmaster, 2001).