Why Pay Less?

Kid Rock may not be the most sympathetic example, but artists’ attempts at altruistic ticket pricing appear to do a disservice to their fans:

As an industry leader, with access to nearly limitless data, Ticketmaster can determine fairly precisely just how much fans are willing to pay for every kind of show. Generally speaking, Smith says, artists who charged a lot more for the best 1,000 or so seats would reduce the incentive for scalpers to buy these tickets; it would also allow artists to charge even less for the rest of the seats in the house. Kid Rock told me that on his forthcoming tour, he is planning on charging a lot more than usual for “platinum seating” so that all other seats — including those in the first two rows — can be around $20. “It’s a smart thing for me to do,” he said. “We’re going to make money; I’m going to make money. I want to prove there is a better way to do this.”

I am regularly priced out of the market for great seats at a show, often even shows by my very favorite groups. I always admired the Grateful Dead and Phish method of distributing tickets to fans. The most significant portion of the price was the laborious process of assembling postal money orders, self-addressed stamped envelopes and being keenly aware of when the shows were going to take place. Scalpers would have had to pay the price for every batch, too. Those days may be gone forever, but soaking the fat cats in the front rows and passing the savings onto fans of modest means likely retains much of the Respect for the Working Man so many artists want to project.

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