Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Bit More Concerts ...

More Lefsetz readers' responses. Read part one here.

Kevin Lyman Responds

Only thing I will say we never take buy ons and merch rate is 10% or none for most bands...if someone will not put their name to a letter you should not post it.. because they don't really know what they are talking about .at least kid rock has an opinion and always will.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


Kid Rock's attack on Kevin Lyman is laughable, I was there in 1998. Warped Tour was an incredible concert event that is cost effective for fans and touring artists. Kevin is fair to the artists, he rewards those who work hard and are loyal and he punishes those who complain about their slots or act like rock stars. Kid Rock behaved terribly the whole 2 or 3 weeks he was on the tour, at the time he was nothing, he didn't contribute to the draw and it was basically a favor that he got booked in the first place, despite this he complained nearly everyday and treated people abhorrent.

At the time I was working for a small hardcore band named H2O, we did the tour that year in a Winnebago until it broke down, Kevin put all of us up for free in two tour busses that had spare bunks and we completed the tour. That summer was one of the best of my life, Deftones killed it everyday, we did a show in Wisconsin with Ozzfest called Skatin Meets Satan at Float Rite Park, a memorable day.

Perhaps what Kid Rock is really upset about is that Fletcher from Pennywise came out to visit that summer, Pennywise was not on the tour. Fletcher confronted Kid in Asbury Park, NJ and tore his gold chain off his neck and threw it away. Now, this was definitely an immature move but it was hilarious at the time and many felt deserved.

I have enjoyed an 11 year career in the touring business and I, amongst many others, owe a great deal of thanks and praise to Kevin Lyman. In addition to giving people great opportunities, he teaches a great ethic of work hard and be frugal.

Please withhold my name.


I notice that some are taking a poke at Kevin Lyman and Warped Tour. I have been heavily involved in concert production, both from the promoter side and touring side, for over 20 years. I had the pleasure of being on Warped Tour 2 years in a row and I still don't think there is a better summer tour/festival. I watched the band I work for go from Warped Tour into Arenas, thanks in part to Warped Tour. All those bands and activities for that price cannot be beat. Usually, the bands spend all day walking around in the crowd, meeting their fans and joining the party. Bands get to make friends with other bands, and the crews do the same.

All the side stage bands do not have to buy their way on, although I'm sure that some do. Of course there are sponsorships, this is not the 60's anymore.

And the 30% merch that they are taking, they pay the venue merch rate with the bulk of that. I did a few shows where the venue didn't want to cut a deal. You should see them trying to count in merch for 70+ bands and have doors open by 11am. A total nightmare. After 15 years, they do what works. Do people make money, of course they do. And they do it without raping teenagers and their parents.

And as far as "biggest star in the world in 1998", sounds like sour grapes to me.

Gary Ferenchak



Your back and forth with Mr Fogel is interesting. While the numbers are impressive for this year's tour, I don't see how they can possibly expect more of the same for the next U2 tour if they release another empty, rambling, tepid, recycled album like 'No Line.' I used to have U2 on my list of bands that "you've gotta see before you die, man!!!" - not anymore. Sure, there's those diehards out there that will see them every time they come through, who show up because of 'The Joshua Tree', and the 'young money--pop the collar on your polo' crowd referenced earlier in an ACDC rant who has nothing better to do with their time or money. It's the rest of us who are really feeling jilted as of late, and are going to stop shelling out good cash for last century's crap with a new stage production on it.

It's not Broadway. It's freakin music.

--The point is-- that something smells. While things might still look good on the skin for now, this apple is rotten and eventually things are going to deflate.

Clearly 'too big to fail' doesn't apply to the concert promoters, as much as they'd like it to.

Chris Schetter


Please withhold any identifying info.

Nickelback this and Nickelback that, but come to Southern California and they are having a tough time selling tickets. In Irvine just over 7,000 in a 15,000 person venue and San Diego they have sold 5,500 of 9100 but that is misleading because Blink 182 has sold over 18,000 at the same venue.

As for Liza you can buy all Gibson Amp shows with No Service fees at the Hollywood Palladium.


There is an ex-president in Texas that should be getting all of this wrath, not one a concert company or musical act or another. None of this would be said in such a manner, if the economy didn't tank...

You all have such great passion to point out what's wrong in our little business, while your real anger should be at these people that suddenly made every one of us examine every dollar we spend on anything and everything, not just concert tickets!

Let's use this emotion to protest the real problems, and "tear down the war," which is the real issue? Did the 60's just tire everyone out on the topic of making a change?

Anytime commerce and art get together it is tough, always has been. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. We all love music and we all love the live spectacle. And everyone has always thought the ticket prices are too high, until the show they want to see comes. And now, everyone in this business is evil, is the feeling I get, when I read what everyone has to say.

There is competition for every show and in the end it comes down to who has the right combo of guarantee, venue, ticket price, amenities and so forth. All of your readers know that, the act has to say ok eventually, so why direct all of this nasty shit at promoters?

Meanwhile, all of the Monday morning quarterbacks are here running everyone down and I don't know what you are doing to make this better, and then there's the people who hold your name back and spout off...except Kid Rock, who always signs his name to his statements, which I always admire. The rest should be ashamed. Hit and run is illegal in most states.

Danny Zelisko


I've run venues for 27 years in Australia.
In the 80's we were getting $2 out of $10 from an act and the act paid for the promo and supplied the PA. We paid a guarantee
In the early 90's we were getting $2 out of $20 and the act supplied the PA. We stopped paying guarantees and the act/promoter took the risk and did the promo.
By the late 90's we were getting $1/$2 out of $30-$40, we supplied the PA, and did more advertising.
Now we are getting $2 out of $50-$80, supply top line digital PA desks and lighting, video and do advertising, pay for security etc.

So don't whinge about the beer price and the extras.

The agents/promoters need to share everything around. If we got 10-20% of the gross we could keep prices in line.

The greed displayed by agents and managers in part echoes the conditions that brought down the economy in the last year. We are all in the same business and the greed brings us into disrepute and will affect sales.

Younger bands keep the prices down (on the whole) and ensure that fans are happy.

Will Springsteen miss the $10m if he lowers his prices?

If you piss off your audience enough they revolt.

It''s not the artist that suffers but the promoter who pays the guarantee.

And if your promoter suffers do you just move on, or do remember that your promoter built your career and help make your career and made you a lot of money in the past.

I love what I do and am happy to have had a long career in making people happy.

I like to think that I have showed integrity over my time. And that brings me business.

And agents/promoters who do the same continue to work with great artists.

And much like great record labels fans respect great promoters.

Neil Wedd

Ryan Downey:

When Kid Rock says, " treated me like a bitch," what he means is, "Lyman refused to treat me like I'm better than everyone and instead treated me like anyone on the crew, at the merch table or in any band ever on Warped."

The Pennywise / Kid Rock / Warped Tour stuff came up a little bit in the exhaustive Oral History of Vans Warped Tour I wrote which appeared as the cover story in the most recent issue of Alternative Press.

I attempted to cover 15 years of history and did over 30 interviews. This was a minor, though entertaining, footnote. The anecdote came up a few times with a few people, so when I interviewed Fletcher (Pennywise -- like NOFX & Bad Religion, you know, "the California bands" -- is part of the heart and soul of the tour and has done it a zillion times) I asked him about it and he told me the story. Much of it made it into the piece.

From how the Warped Tour folks tell it, Kid Rock & his handlers were one of those camps like Alien Ant Farm who came on the tour with rock star attitude and didn't understand the communal and egalitarian way the tour was and continues to be run. So a drunken Fletcher went a little overboard and called him out for it in a comical way.

Did I contact Kid Rock for his side? No, as this was a large story about Warped Tour, not him. The little bit about Pennywise and Kid Rock served to illustrate a larger point about how Warped Tour operates: regardless of your style of music or place in the industry scheme of things, if you treat everyone with respect you will be respected. If you come into the punk world acting like you're hot shit -- even if you are -- you're going to get made fun of by the VWT family.

Plenty of others outside the punk world, from Sugar Ray to Katy Perry, DID figure out how to make the best of Warped and managed to get along within the community while blowing up their careers at the same time.

And Fletcher sees the humor in the whole thing now and doesn't begrudge Kid Rock his success one bit.

Kevin Lyman and Fletcher Dragge are two of the most down to earth, well-intentioned and honest people in this crooked business. I don't know Kid Rock and have never met him, but "down to earth" doesn't seem like his style. And that's cool because the world needs rock stars. It's just that the Vans Warped Tour does not.

Kid Rock and Warped Tour makes about as much sense as Kid Rock and iTunes, or Kid Rock and Twitter.

Different strokes, ya'll...


Wow, this Lyman thread sure is interesting. The guy who worked for H2O hit the nail on the head (for the most part), but he withheld his name??? I think that sums up a lot - we all have to make a living and in these very challenging times we all don't want to offend anyone who can help in that. I bet he wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to make money working with Kid Rock, and why should he? He probably has mouths to feed. But, that is a statement in itself.

I was the Warped Tour marketing dude for its first two years (1995 and 1996), and it was indeed a great experience. 1995 was No Doubt, Sublime, Quicksand, Face to Face, L7, Orange 9mm; 1996 was Deftones, 311, Blink, Bosstones, NOFX, Unwritten Law and many others. At its core, it was the essence of punk rock. That spirit was instilled by Kevin.

In 2001, I was managing a band called Alien Ant Farm, who at the time, had the number one rock single in the world with their bad-ass cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal". They were not punk rock, and probably not unlike Kid Rock, they were on the tour for other reasons, and they were not so happy on that tour. They wanted to have prime slots (after all, they had a global number one single), and they let it be known, probably not very tactfully, that they expected the best slots, and more often than not, they did not get them. After an altercation with some real punk rock bands on the tour, they dropped off. Interestingly, Kevin called me that night genuinely asking that the band stay on the tour. They didn't. Kevin, being truly punk rock, was trying to teach them humility and gratitude in light of their explosive success, and also being a smart businessman, didn't want them to leave the tour. I'd be willing to bet that in hindsight the band wishes that they would have stayed on the tour and slugged it out like the other bands.

Ironically, the band accepted an invitation to appear at this summer's Warped Tour date in Pomona only days after Michael Jackson's death, one of their first gigs since reuniting after a hiatus (I haven't managed them since early 2007).

When I was booking shows at ski resorts in the early 90's with bands like No Doubt, The Offspring, Sublime, I needed professional production and I needed credibility, and Kevin provided both. Shortly thereafter, he hired me as the marketing dude when he launched the Warped Tour. He should not be condemned for building Warped Tour into a commercial machine; he should be applauded, just as Tony Hawk has done for skateboarding. If being "cool" has legs and broad appeal, it ultimately is sold to a larger audience. Kid Rock should know this, he has done the same thing, and I applaud him for that.

While Kevin and I have had a couple of challenges in our relationship, he is a good righteous dude, a true punk rocker, and a savvy businessman. He is one of my most valued mentors, and I am sure that there are dozens others like me who feel the same way. Truth is - we are all trying to get ahead and make a living in this business, and that isn't always easy, particularly in this environment.

Kid Rock and Kevin actually have a lot in common, the big one being success! I'd bet Kevin would invite Kid to perform on Warped anytime, and hey, maybe Kid should take him up on it. As Rodney King says, "can't we all just get along?"

Name included - JOHN BOYLE


I was at the Warped Tour when Kid Rock played... He's great now, but was absolutely awful at those shows. As in "hold your hands over your ears" awful.

And Warped Tour isn't as much about the music anymore as it is about a "teen scene"... Although, if 10% of the kids get hooked on music, god bless em!

Richard Zweiback


Seth Hurwitz:

there's just a few people that have stayed a true course on what they feel is right, and don't rationalize impure decisions by deciding that their money priority is holier than others

I don't know how he did it, but somehow Kevin Lyman has not fallen prey to success, and has not taken the bad path most everyone else has when they have created something good

I think it boils down to having fun

which isn't a matter of "getting it", or making having fun a's either in you or it isn't, and the public always knows

Kevin still has fun, so the people that work for him have fun, and then the bands have fun, and then the people going to the show have fun

that's really how it works, and I look forward to the day when our business has finally ousted the ones that don't get it

you call it imploding...I call it karma


Hey bob, not trying to beat this to the ground but as a band that has participated in the Warped Tour ten times, I can tell you that Warped's success isn't smoke and mirrors. The success is in the willingness of Kevin to take a chance on up and coming bands, to see past the horizon line on fads and fashion and keep on coming up with tour line ups kids want to see year after year. We never have paid more than 10% of merch, always have been treated equally out on the tour, and always name check the tour as one of reasons for our 16 year career. Just my two cents..

Vinnie Fiorello
Less Than Jake.



Long time reader, had to jump in on this one. Kevin is a stand up guy with a vision that he created on his own, from the ground up. This was all before any major talent buyer paid attention. Nobody was doing a festival tour for independent bands when he started. I was at that Warped tour date in Chicago the other day and was very happy to see how far the tour has come. You can't fault a guy who's seeing these types of numbers when his tour has maintained integrity for 15 years. I have learned that most people will diss someone who's having success, for no reason at all. I don't buy the concept that he's selling "cool" -- each year, he not only has the "latest" bands, but he books old school acts that played some of the very first years of the tour still, year in, year out. This IS a cool tour, you have the new and the old, something for everyone. I saw a number of people brushing 40 years old attending to see acts like Less Than Jake and NOFX. People should stop using "band math," $40 x Sellable Capacity = Promoter's Profit......don't work that way, festival tours are expensive to produce. $40 ticket price is a steal for a day at this tour. Kevin stepped out and gave a handful of acts their first shot by booking them on his tour. If anyone has done it the right way, it's him.

Lucas Keller
Uppercut Management


KL would not take my $ for buy on. Lord knows I tried.

J.M. Busch


You know Kevin is not gonna remember, but we were fortunate enough to get him to speak at a conference of production pros about five years ago. Even then he was way ahead of the curve and i still find myself talking about him as an example of how to make touring work in the "brave new world" of digital distribution and the total irrelevance of record companies. He is--IMHO--an example of what is RIGHT about the biz

Bill Evans
Editor, Front of House Magazine


Hey Bob,

I can vouch for Lyman on how he handles WARPED bands. I rep a band that recently did four dates on the Kevin Says Stage and one on the Ernie Ball stage at WARPED. The band IONIA, is a local draw around New York and New Jersey; Kevin gave us a chance, we did not buy on to anything but an insurance rider (which was cheap and easy), we were allowed to keep all of our merch sales, and we had a great time mixing into the fans, bands and pop culture. From what I saw, the thousands of teens at all of the venues we played at, were having a great time meeting their favorite bands, buying merch, and giggling at each other - looked good to me.

I just went to All Points West, and although Jay-Z was epic, the food and drink prices were aristocratic, and a shirt cost $45 - I didn't see one giggling teen spending any money within miles of that spot. I am guessing APW took a bath (all puns intended due to the rain) compared to the three local WARPED dates to NYC.

As for Kid Rock - This year, there is a band named GALLOWS out of the UK that is on the WARPED tour; they are super hardcore punk rock. On numerous occasions during their set they "called out" the more glitzy teen-pop bands on the tour. Those bands that are a bit more studio oriented, consumable radio play types. I can only imagine the situation that would occur if Kid Rock was in the pit of a GALLOWS set at WARPED; wow pandemonium.

Eric Ervin
EEP! Artist Management


I just spent two days at the Warped Tour in Saint Louis and Kansas City. The bands there are pouring their souls on the ground every day to thousands of fans and building followings the old fashioned way....they are earning them. Kevin and his team are giving these bands a chance to play on a stage every day to hone their message and their talent......he should be praised and thanked for his 15 year commitment.

Marty Albertson


Kevin Lyman is one of the biggest contributors to the music industry and to letting artists grow as well as management companies, specialized products who help the industry and families all across the world. He has also blessed me personally and artists I have worked with who have needed a reason to go on.

Bruce Hablutzel pres.Starzz Promotions and Management...


Lonn Friend:

Great Kevin moment. I'm with Richie and Jon in Vancouver while they're tracking Keep the Faith and Lollapalooza comes through town. I convince the boys they need to see Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Jon is not interested, Richie is. We're standing on the stage and a downpour ensues. Eddie is swinging from an electrical vine like a crooning Chimpanzee the rain starts pouring down in Biblical sheets. The canopy is really sketchy were we're huddled. Kevin comes over and says, 'Lonn, it's dangerous up here, you should take the guys off stage." If memory serves, I said, "Dude, you tell 'em." So Kevin delivers the news to Jon that it would be best to move but Jon shot back one of those looks that if it could speak would have sounded something like, "it's cool, man. I'm Jon Bon Jovi. Lightning would bounce off of me." Kevin gave me what I will describe as snicker, turned his head to my guests and said, "Hey man, I know who you are but you're getting off my stage now because I am responsible for you."

Kevin Lyman ran production on the Palladium RIP parties, local live urban legend. Only time a band didn't hit their mark was at the 7th and last party where the aforementioned Bon Jovi headlined later that 92. Kalodner asked me if Jackyl could open and I said sure, but Jessie James has to chain saw on stage the disgusting sofa from my office, a relic of the HUSLTER studio where god knows what found its way into the cushions. Sure enough, during the Lumberjack song saw solo, Jessie went to work, foam and material flying everywhere. End of set, Kevin comes over and says, "Thanks, Lonn, for making a fucking mess of my stage! I'm gonna need another five minutes." Then his face cracks and a genuine smile appears. Kevin Lyman is the best.


Merch rates are retarded at some venues. Although some bands go too far. A fifty dollar tank from motley and areosmith is just greedy when the top cost is 9 bucks!!!!

Average percentage is 25. I love venues that do 20 but that is becoming very rare.



Arthur Fogel lies. In Barcelona none of both shows sold-out. OK, you can call it a success as most of the tickets for the enormous 90,000 seat stadium were sold. But there were hundreds of tickets at the boxoffice the first night, and a few thousands the second night. Technically Fogel will say it's soldout, and will be proud of his fake numbers. Truth is scalpers were selling at super cheap prices because no one was buying. Truth is, I asked at least 20 people about the show... most people were dissapointed. Weak performance, lots of technology to blind us and make it all look spectacular and hide the poor new songs they were playing. Ands for the bad view is some parts of the stadium, and for the ridiculously high prices (150 euros) for what whas supposed to be the best and closer seats. A circus is what it was. Of course, Mr.Fogel will keep on preaching us. Fuck him and fuck them all the stupid greedy people (artists included) in the music biz. They should get out in the street and check with fans.

Please don't put my name if you publish this.



In another (almost literally) galaxy, the rule of thumb for big shows was that 85-90% of the gross went towards all expenses involved. A sell-out (term seems used rather loosely of late), was 100% sold, and that last 10-15% was the clear profit. Nobody was smiling until 9/10ths of the seats had gone, at face price. All calculations were based on that knowledge; you could boast about selling 19,000 tickets in a 20K venue, and it looked like a good house; and of course you could paper the upper-tiers, and it looked like a great house. Neither good in the former instance, and certainly not even good but pathetic in the latter, of course.

We had AGENTS then, like Frank Barsalona and Barbara Skydel at Premier Talent, and menschy promoters like Delsener and Graham, and they gave the artists and mgmt. a clear picture of possibilities & options.

A clear picture is NOT what I'm getting from these U2 stats that you are battling over w. the producers of the tour. I rely on you for the clear picture. How do these putatively astronomical numbers work out in real life these days?

Please, help me through the smoke and mirrors of the concert industry in 2009.

Danny Fields



U2 is doing a groundbreaking tour that most people I speak to (in the 23-30 year old age bracket as I am 25) are excited about it yet instead of applauding them you and many of your readers just sound ignorant in being negative abt this tour. This band is selling hundreds of thousands of tickets per market and you call it "cracks in the edifices". Does a band have to underplay a market for you to consider the tour a success? We should be applauding Live Nation for finding a way to open up the capacities in these venues to include more people. Since when is being inclusive a bad thing. This is not the 60's, your favorite band is not going to play a club for 10 dollars a head. Everyone needs to stop crying about the golden age and enjoy the fact that many older bands are still able to perform and do so at a very high level. And the idiot who said something abt U2's new album having long term effects on there ticket sales is not giving U2 enough credit. This band has enough hits that they will sell out arenas for the legnth their careers without putting out another record. Most people going want to hear the classics they grew up listening to anyway. Also, blaming the promoters for lack of breaking new bands is also ignorant. So many different forms of music exist now and so many more societal niches exist that there are going to be less bands that appeal to the masses. It is common sense but it doesn't mean the business is falling apart, rather you are going to see more bands that cater to abt 5-10,000 fans per market in the future then arena bands and I don't know that there is anything wrong with that.

Jarred Arfa



The problem with the concert industry is debt, debt, and more debt. Look at the Live Nation and Ticketmaster debt load on the following Morningstar and Standard and Poor links.

The debt load is a combined $1,751,000,000.00 that's billion not millions. Their future if they merge will be to buy everything under the sun and fee the concert going public to death. Drive premium seats to Ticketmaster's secondary market. There is no other way to make their debt payments and show a profit, it will not come from the marginal profit deals that the promoters receive from the agencies, artist and management.

The SFX consolidation that grew to be Live Nation is a failure. There are indy promoters of all sizes like Jam, Bowery, IMP, and Another Planet. AC, Superfly that are profitable. They are not over employed, and show yearly growth. But being a national promoter you are trying to make one size fit all.

Of course Blink 182 sold out in their hometown, of course Bob (Kid Rock) sold out two stadium shows in his hometown on Detroit. That is what hometown bands should do. Look at these two acts' business in Miami, Raleigh or Kansas City and get a reality check

Live Nation has priced themselves out of the market, with the national tour promoter business model. What works in Detroit does not work in San Diego.

I was recently in the Fillmore in San Francisco, and all I can say is spend some money on upkeep. If Bill Graham ever saw a venue in that kind of disrepair his screaming voice would still be echoing thru the streets of San Francisco. Live Nation venues across the country are not well kept and the monies for general maintenance do not exist. One day Live Nation, and the artists will realize it all starts with the fans, and greed will kill you in the end if the debt load does not get you first.

Bob withhold my name if you post this


"Did you really think people were going to want to overpay to see the Stones, believing this was the last tour, when that whisper campaign began TWO DECADES AGO?"


Two? Try FOUR !!

The Stones' first "farewell tour" was in 1969 !!! Look hard enough and you can still find their "1969 farewell tour" T-shirts!

M. Krivin


i played for $250 tonite in a crowded, loud, smokey bar where the only draw was the $1.50 beers-- certainly not me...most people are there to get drunk and meet a girl-- and not for the job is to keep the beer flowing and the guys thinking they can get actually quite good at that! i make about $50,000 a year playing in and around DC as a solo acoustic act and the patrons of these bars are getting the covers of the orginal artists for free!! in fact, last nite, someone told me i did a better cover than the original artist! maybe thats where all this live "concert" shit ya'll are blabbering about is heading: to small local bars where the music is heard free and costs are covered by alcohol....rock on!

Jon Fritz



The "superstars" may be having a tough summer, but the jambands are killing it. Low ticket prices, long shows, great bills, lots of value for the dollar, that's always been our business plan. Fans first, that's our deal.

Of course you already know all of this, but I feel like it is getting lost in all the talk about live nation/ticketmaster etc.

The biscuits have had our biggest summer ever, by far, with shows in the 6000-10000 range throughout the summer. Sure we had our "Clevelands on a Wednesday", our smaller club shows, but the kids love those shows, and they are a nice change of pace from our red rocks show that don strasburg rolled the dice on.

How does an unknown band do 7000 people at red rocks? With great support and a low ticket price. 8 hours of non-stop music, all for $36. And priced to sell, that is exactly what we did. Kids came from all over to see it, just like they do for all jamband shows.

So in our little world, the music business IS alive and well. We had two successful summer festivals that we own, Camp Bisco and Bisco Inferno (our red rocks fest), and a host of other successes.

One bit of interesting info, advance sales have been down, while day of show sales have gone through the roof. Promoters are freaking out leading up to the show, but we have to tell them again and again, there is nothing to worry about, the shows have all been great, our fans are just sick of paying 40% more for their tickets by using ticketmaster. And time and time again we have walked away selling more tickets than ever before.

And then, of course, there is phish. Not many people are mentioning it, but one band doesn't have any trouble selling out shed shows instantly. $49 for a four hour show. It comes as no surprise to me that it is a band within our genre, where the quality of music and value for the fan is the focus. Even knowing that I can most likely get walked in the back door, I have no problem shelling out the $50 to see my favorite band in top form.

As for selling our new album, that's where we are going to have to get really creative. We have a plan to roll the album out in bits, two singles at a time, complete with remixes, videos, and all kinds of other interesting content. We'll let you know how it goes.

Cheers, love the blog,

Marc Brownstein


Ladonna Vivaldi:

So in the midst of all of this promoter/agent/ticket gouging/bashing going on back & forth, the one culprit who remains nameless is the artist. Among the reasons Live Nation has razor thin margins, and is supposedly laying "on their death bed" (hey, at least Arthur Fogel had the BALLS to sign his name to his rant, you spineless name-withheld coward), and is resorting to these apparently desperate deeply discounted no-fee free Weds whatever measures, is because they are beholden to the preposterous fees imposed by the same artists who deign to take the stage and claim allegiance to their fans.

It's all bullshit. Which is why I am ripping their tunes freely and downloading their torrent concert DVD's as a result of not actually being able to afford to attend their live performances.

The last show I saw was Radiohead, and after realizing that my prized $45 ticket turned into a roughly $90 ticket after service fees, facility fees and parking, I vowed never to support that machine again. For the record, every second of that concert was worth it, but rare is the act who can warrant such unsurpassed musicianship and dazzling artistry. Certainly not Madonna or Britney today, perhaps U2 back in the day, but now it's all about spectacle as Mr. Fogel says, the bigger the better. Anything to detract from the lack of genuine talent.

I demur with Mr. Fogel, there is much more that fans want than just a dizzying visual distraction. I don't particularly feel a deep emotional or spiritual connection with Bono on the giant video screen, as I once did when I could literally just elbow my way up to the stage and be within spitting distance of him, without having to pay "Golden Circle" or VIP prices.

It used to be about having the gumption and the passion to be willing to go hand in hand, toe to toe, with the artists you believed in, because as a fan we felt they believed in us. They needed us to survive, just as much as we needed them to feel alive. Now, they mock us, and expect us to pay for their privileged, blingtastic, chauffeured, private-jetted, failed album lifestyles. So fuck Bono, fuck Madonna, fuck the Stones, fuck Beyonce, and all of them. They will find out sooner or later that their fans have better things to spend their hard earned $200-$300-$400 on than lip-synched, tape-enhanced parodies of rock stars.

So don't hate Live Nation, all they're doing is trying to deliver entertainment, but they're just at the mercy of greedy artists and their Shylock managers with their ridiculous 85/15, 90/10, 95/5 + all-in deals, now they want a cut of everything from parking to concessions too. They're the ones causing Live Nation to increase everything from the price of parking to hot dogs. One day it will (and should) come to light that very seemingly altruistic, popular artists do scalp their own tickets, raking in generous profits from secondary markets, and are nothing short of hypocritical mercenaries. But boomers do as boomers can (we are one stupidly bloated, shallow generation), and as long as they can afford the Amex Platinum fees, they will continue to perpetuate this gluttonous cycle. Like I said, no more live concerts for me until this whole mess settles down.

Time to start pointing the finger in the other direction, and boycott the artists. When promoters finally refuse to pay their exorbitant fees, just let them try to put on their own concerts and pay for their own productions, crews, insurance, busses, catering, etc. I'll bet you suddenly ticket prices would be a lot lower if it was their own money on the line.


Bob, funnily enough, I wrote about this the other day, and I thought you might be interested:

and on the implosion in sales of concerts, this has been happening in less obvious ways for several years already. In fact, last year was the aberration, with concert sales up. Back in '06, I believe it was, concerts had a terrible year because they were relying too much on the old acts. That hasn't gotten any better, but a couple of fresh names (The Police and AC/DC) momentarily freshened it up.

While of course I'm bullish on live entertainment overall, the Big Rock Star model of concert going is definitely petering out. The future is a niche market, and some of those niches will be incredibly profitable.

I don't know if you're familiar with my company, but I'm the CEO of Goldstar (, and although we're the world's biggest seller of half-price tickets online, our service is designed around getting people out to live entertainment more. When you ask our members what they like about us, the first thing they say is usually "I find out about shows that I'd never have known about" and then second is "and the prices are great." We learned last year that 84% of the time, people come to Goldstar without a clue what show they want to see and we actually connect them to one. This is the inverse of the traditional business.
_Or as I like to say it, most of the industry finds buyers for its tickets. We find tickets for our buyers. In other words, we serve the 850,000 or so people who are Goldstar members and make sure we've always got lots of things for them to do.

The price is a way to remove barriers to trial. Our venue partners tell us that 80 to 90% of the people we send them are people they would never have seen otherwise, so the whole point of the exercise is to grow the pie for live entertainment.

And the reason we do it (besides having a profitable business and making a living) is because we believe live entertainment (and not just music, btw) is great and makes peoples' lives better. It makes them more social, connects them to the places they live, makes them smarter and more interesting, gives them interesting things to talk about. It's good.

And we also know that people like to go out to live stuff a lot but don't get out as often as they'd like. We try to cure that.

Anyway, that's more than I intended to write, but since you think and talk about these issues a lot, I thought I'd add a strain or two of thought into your concoction.

Jim McCarthy
CEO, Goldstar

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, you need switchbacks to get to the cheap seats!