It’s not a secret. We live in a 1% elitist society. If you don’t actually belong in the 1%, many people want to feel that important, special feeling. You know, the one many of us get when we think celebrity, being within a few feet of someone you idolize. Social Media and that force-feed the need-to-feel-special, above all others, entitled for 5 minutes feeling? Many of us hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck, barely making living wage types seem to wallow in the shallow end. We’re the ones who in our youth went to see the local punk bands, with their anti-establishment songs. Sadly the Gold Circle, Las Vegas seating arrangement has found its way to your favorite band’s venue. That’s right , many artists knowingly or unknowingly are victim to the pricing scheme of the promoters, falling into the media trap of the VIP Pass, VIP Circle, and Pre-Sales vortex. Maybe a handful of long-time fans may actually make it to the show with the remaining 50 tickets left after the battle for a seat.
Back in the day, when my current fan favorite band I will be seeing, had their first tour, they had very small venues and very little pay. When they started out, if the band got $50.00 to play, they were lucky. It used to be, and in some sad cases, many a band was taken advantage of by promoters and record labels. Very often they barely saw any money from touring for months, or even the record sales they helped promote. Indeed, the whole of the late 70s and 80s saw a plethora of bands abused by the music machine in their early years. If they were lucky and started making it big, they got good managers and better contracts. Out of the thousands of bands in the American and UK scenes, they were the one band that made it past a year and somehow, after breaking up several times, maybe reformed. Now some are on their 25, 30, and 40 year anniversary shows. Funny, during all that time, you think they would remember their humble beginnings. Some do. It depends on the bands and how hard up for cash they may be. Or a sense of being paid as an artist, which is important. I would hope that they remember their humble beginnings, and that 99% of the population can barely afford the GA tickets. Because lately some of the promoting done for bands, while not really new concepts, has become downright exclusionary in its exclusiveness.
Remember the days when you had to line up at a ticket vendor, stand in the rain, buy tickets when the record shop opened? We all hated it, but it was a fair system in that if you could get there, or your friend did, stood in line, sometimes camping overnight, you had a chance. You still battled it out with ticketing systems that had several outlets and were selling at different places. You still ended up with the worst possible place, the floor. But it was somewhat fair. Now the lines are online, and very fast and furious. A show can sell out in 5 minutes. Unfortunately that usually goes to 3rd party vendors who buy blocks of tickets and then turn around and sell to the public at a 300% markup, because a limit to tickets per person wasn’t in the software. The average fan doesn’t have a chance at the balcony seats.
My recent experience was the that band I wanted to see announced tickets on sale on Twitter and their website. I went to the venue direct, got into the system, waited for the published time. When the time came, I could see the balcony seats getting wiped out, and I could not order. A message about a code kept coming up. I went to the bands site and original notification on Twitter, no code. I kept getting an error. No message as to why, tried contacting the ticket company through the tech line, ended up on a online form. The next day I got an email explaining that the code was for previous ticketing company clients. Basically, if you had purchased from them before or been in their exclusive club, you got advanced perks, like codes fro pre-sales. Luckily the pre-sales did not wipe out the floor tickets, still had a few available the next morning when the system opened up to the general public. I love feeling general. Of course there were plenty of pre-show VIP passes to meet and greet the band for $200.00 available at an additional fee.
Now, in defense of some bands, most bands want to just play for their audience. They want to be able to get from one city and venue to the next, instruments and crew intact. They want to get paid. Touring is expensive business. They have no control over promoters for a venue and don’t want to get into it, don’t want to have to think about it? Some bands tell promoters that they don’t want this system. Some bands and artists are in protest of this elitist profiling, and online exploitation of ticket pricing. They don’t get the money from the inflated tickets either, so they are being victimized as much as the average fan. Maybe they want the real music fan to have a fair chance to be up front. Some artists have taken drastic measures, and made tickets from a 3rd party vendors invalid. This leaves the public scrambling for re-buying tickets. It can get rather ugly.
Other bands have embraced the VIP treatment packages. They make money off them as well, quite a bit in fact. Funny, back in the day, you know punk and post-punk, the very same musicians were running around as poor kids scraping money up to get in to see bands themselves, sadly forgotten by their current selves.
How do you get the message to your favorite band that you can’t see them because you are not part of the elite? Could you stand outside the venue with a protest sign? Write to a music or consumer journalist and hope they may be sympathetic and publish something? I think if you really like a band and have supported them for years, you should write to them and let them know what’s going on with how their band is being perceived by their fans. They may not even have a clue, especially if they have been touring for months. However, chances are if they are doing the soundcheck pre-greet thing, they probably are clued in a bit. Back in the day, it used to be that these things were done in radio contests. It was more sporting I think, but someone wasn’t making money off of it, it was usually sponsored by advertising. The station made some money off of it. Sadly, it seems anyone can make money off of it.
As an individual, I purchased 4 tickets. Two may be available if friends can’t go. I will find someone who wants them and sell for face value, plus the ticketing fees. I am not a scalper, just a poor fan who could barely afford the tickets but really wanted to see a favorite band for maybe the last time, with friends. Just your average fan.