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Ticket Hell

DSC02877Make no mistake about it, we are living through a class war. We can thank our politicians for making the rift even bigger than necessary. Nowhere is the rift between the “Have” and “Have Nots” more noticeable than in the entertainment business.

The price of concert and sports tickets are through the roof. Professional sports teams are beginning to see that in many cases they have priced themselves out of the market. The Yankees have seen their attendance drop despite fielding great teams. Both the Mets and Yankees have beautiful new stadiums, but many of their top priced tickets behind home plate go unoccupied. Very few fans can afford to pay $1500 a ticket to watch the Yanks play the Kansas City Royals. It still will cost a family of 4 nearly $500 to see a typical ballgame and they would be lucky to have seats between the dugouts in the second level. Both the Mets and Yankees have created areas directly behind the plate on the first level that is totally isolated from the rest of the stadium. You can’t even walk there without having a ticket in that section. Talk about a velvet rope.

The biggest threat facing sports franchises is HD TV. It is to sports what Napster was to the music industry. Why pay big dough to see a game, when you can see it better from your living room chair for free?  This problem is not going away and the sports world has no answer for it. I guess the NHL has found an answer.  They just won’t play this year!!

Concert tickets is another issue altogether. There are lots of people who are wealthy enough to shell out thousands of dollars to see the Rolling Stones.  Where does that leave the average fan? Heritage acts like the Stones, Springsteen, U2 and the like are literally in a different business than almost any music acts. The typical touring act is having a lot of trouble selling tickets. There are a lot of reasons for this. But the superstars are able to charge outrageous prices for their tickets.

Who is buying them? Before the average fan goes on the computer the Saturday morning of on-sale, the bands, promoters, American Express, ticket brokers, scalpers, sponsors, politicians and others have already bought up more than 75% of the tickets to the show. They only pay face value. That leaves general public competing for what is left or being forced to pay the ridiculous prices that are being charged on the secondary market.

Tickets for the upcoming 12/12/12 concert in New York, a benefit for the victims of Sandy are going for as much as $60,000 apiece in the secondary market. How did the agencies get these tickets and who is paying that much to see the show? Never mind the fact that the profits will line the pockets of the various scalpers, etc. instead of going to help the beneficiaries of the concert!!

It has always been the case that “insiders” had access to the best tickets before anyone else. But now the stakes are so high that it has become huge money. Most acts buy these tickets themselves so they can sell them on Stubhub or through other outlets. They may make more money from selling tickets above face value than they are getting paid to play the show.

The Stones have seen this practice blow up in their face. Many of the tickets the band purchased for their recent show in London that they hoped to sell in the secondary market, went unsold. As a result the Stones played to a lot of empty seats! Do they really care? The people that were in the show paid ridiculous amounts of money to be there.

I remember paying a little extra for tickets to see the Who at the Capitol Theater, or the Stones at the Beacon. I even saw the Stones at Toad’s Place in New Haven as they warmed up for the Steel Wheels tour. Those tickets were free for us and something like $25 for the public who found out about the show and were able to get tickets. Imagine what those tickets would have sold for today!!!!!

This problem has gotten way out of hand. It is at the point where only the wealthy are able to attend the major concert events.  Outside of Bruce Springsteen, who goes to great lengths to get the tickets to his shows into the hands of his fans, few bands do little to stop this practice. Bruce is not always successful, but he has a better batting average than most.

How many of the people that go to these shows are hardcore fans? How many are just folks who have never seen the band before? When they were younger did they wait online overnight to get tickets (yes we used to do that)? But now that they are wealthy they can go to the head of the class.

Greed is the motivating factor here and I don’t know the answer to the problem. Some suggest going paperless can solve the problem. It may work for a while, but soon enough there will be ways to “beat” that system as well.

The only way it will stop is if people stop going to the shows.  People in London were smart enough to do it. Why can’t New Yorkers and folks around the U.S. be as intelligent?  Me, I am considering watching the Stones on “Pay-Per View”. Even at $50 I have to think about it. It is not about the money, but the principle.


About jimdelbalzo

As the former Senior Vice President of Promotion at Columbia Records and now founder/helmsman of the artist management company-Jim Del Balzo Entertainment, Jim has managed, consulted, and developed/executed the promotion and marketing plans for some of the planet’s most beloved musicians. He has guided the careers of artists/acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Alice In Chains, James Taylor, George Michael, Soul Asylum, and System of a Down; to name just a few. Jim also does consulting for labels and publishing companies including Columbia Records, Warner Brothers/Reprise Records, Hear Music/Starbucks, EMI Music Publishing and several other entertainment entities. Jim Del Balzo Entertainment clients include,  John Mellencamp, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, LL Cool J, Burt Bacharach, City Sleeps, Buddahead and Since October.     Jim’s highly successful career and great service to the music industry has earned him a number of accolades and awards over the years. Namely, he was voted one of the Top 25 Most Important People in Rock Music (2000) and Promotion Executive of the Year (5 times) by Album Network—from which he also received a Lifetime Achievement Award. And Clear Channel twice honored Jim with the Executive of the Year Award while Friday Morning Quarterback and Radio & Records named him Top Industry Executive 7 times combined.   Today, Jim Del Balzo takes his talent to the microphone, adding voice work to his remarkable repertoire. His promotional expertise and attuned top executive instincts-combined with his richly unique sound- delivers VO that is truly somethin’ else.   Jim Del Blazo VO.  Like nothin’ you’ve heard. Like nobody’s business.   Jim lives in Saddle River, New Jersey with his wife Mary Beth, daughters Jessica and Julia, and their two golden retrievers.


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