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Op-Ed: The Concert Business – By Bob Lefsetz

Now the concert business is imploding.

It's not like promoters, managers, agents and acts couldn't see this
They just didn't want to believe it. They're just as ignorant as
major label brethren. It's just that their comeuppance is occurring a
decade later.

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

Do you really have to go see Aerosmith? Sure, they outlasted their
seventies contemporaries, had hits in the MTV era, even played the
VMAs year
after year, but you don't even want to hear those lame Geffen hits,
you want
the Columbia classics, and you've been able to hear them year after
So, you say NO MAS!

It's not only Aerosmith that's having problems selling tickets. AC/
DC is
papering stadiums. Paul McCartney is essentially giving tickets away.
Springsteen's tour is a joke. Come on Bruce. You're on a closing
tour? Just call it what it is, a going out of business tour!
You're just
so greedy, you want to get the money before it evaporates.

Ticket sales are not in the dumper because of the economy. That's
saying major labels are in trouble because of piracy. Sure, piracy
put a
dent in the Big Four's bottom line. But what about the fact that
hate the crap they're purveying, and where they're purveying it most
aren't paying attention anymore? Sure, the economy is hurting
ticket sales.
But that's just the cover-up. The true story is the business has
very few superstars, and the old ones are on overpriced tours, blaming
Ticketmaster while they scalp their own tickets.

You say the labels should have seen Napster coming. That they
should have
authorized P2P. When is the concert business going to have an all-
in ticket
price? When is greed going to be put aside for the long term health
of not
only the promoters, but the acts themselves? Do you really think Live
Nation can overpay forever? Look at the company's financials. And
no new
entity is going to line up to overpay guarantees.

We've got to start over.

But the live business, like the recorded music business, doesn't
want to
start over. It just wants to raise prices in order to assure growth.

Hate to tell you, but music doesn't drive the culture. Because all
the big
acts are tied in with corporations, and are fearful of speaking the
for fear of being Dixie Chicked. Used to be the artists were
beholden to no
one, which is why the business blew up. Artists lit the way. Now

You've got to start small, charge little and build an audience.
Which you
nurture over time. Trying to break a new superstar overnight is
like GM
believing it can save itself with a new Malibu (it didn't, in case you
weren't paying attention). GM drove itself towards a cliff with no
consciousness of the future. People want mileage and longevity. GM
provided neither.

Concert attendees want music. Sure, Madonna might be able to survive
selling spectacle, but how many successful circuses exist? There's
Brothers and…

And a night at the show must not break the bank. Broadway overcharges
because it's seen as a once in a blue moon event. You've got to go
to New
York City… It's like selling tickets for a U2 show on the moon.
You can
charge up the yin-yang for that!

As for U2… They don't sell out either anymore. Maybe because
they're no
longer seen as vital, they're the new Stones. U2 could possibly
rehabilitate itself, by releasing a string of singles, one every
month. By
releasing a live album from the tour in progress. Instead, playing
by the
old rules they topped every mass media event with their lame "Get On
Boots" and no one cared.

Just like no one cared about Springsteen's album after the Super Bowl.

Maybe no one cares to the equivalent of a multiplatinum level anymore.
Maybe the live business has to give that paradigm up. At least for a
decade, until new acts are grown.

We want music that resonates. And we want music. Lady GaGa is
Katy Perry is so second rate she's third rate. The future looks
more like
the Kings Of Leon. A band that's been around for years that finally
through. And doesn't break the bank when it sets ticket prices.

Screw lawn tickets at a discount. That's like listening to music on
neighbor's stereo. How about getting a ticket for a developing
artists show
when you buy the ticket for a star. We've got to get people
sampling, we've
got to get people coming to the show on a regular basis. Now we've
got a
business of extravaganzas. We're like North Korea, trying to blast
into the stratosphere, but usually failing. To the point we're a

Last minute concert tickets hot items in recession:

And The Industry Responds


You are correct on many points, it is not all doom and gloom. Today in chicago warped did over 23,000 without resorting to discounting, it will be our biggest show here ever.

You could walk up today and for $40.00 enjoy 70 bands and 9 hours of music. People will pay for value, we just have to go back to delivering it.

Take care,

Kevin Lyman
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


I went to Depeche Mode last night in Mansfield, MA (Boston) and there were 7,500 people there in a 22,500 shed.

Steve Leward


Of course there are some exceptions, namely Nickelback. With a reasonable ticket price, they are selling 18,000 – 22,000 tickets per night. They have three active rock singles still in heavy rotation off the new record, Dark Horse and plan to be on the road through next year. The show includes and exudes the greatness of the "forget about your problems and come see a true arena rock show". The band worships their fans and crew and makes friends with their industry peers. They've sold over twenty million records, blah,
blah, blah.

They'll be around for awhile. Check out the new live video that was shot at the sold-out 02 in London.

Please withhold my name if published in your mailbag. I enjoy your



From: megaboylv

Bobby boy the answer is simple
When you squeeze a lemon you get lemon juice; when you squeeze the lemon dry you get nothing
Don't lament don't predict the end the beginning is just around the corner and it will be the techies that get it right: why? Cause they are inventing culture not sucking it dry:)

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


I think what big acts like Madonna and U2 should do is downsize just a little bit. Don't go so crazy on the big stage and spectacle, play some hockey arenas, and deliver the music. They could charge you your first born and people would be breaking down the doors to do it. If Madonna didn't do all that retarded dancing, toned it down, and SANG HER SONGS, I'm sure it would be killer! Her Hard Candy tour sucked balls because we couldn't see her, and what we saw on the jumbotron was the poor sweaty old thing working far too hard to actually sing! Totally forgettable!

Neil Brock


Dan Millen:

I got 7 'friends and family' comps in the fidelity club section for ACDC at Gilette.

A very competant show in an endless victory lap that didn't really belong in a football stadium.

I got a little melancholy though when they flashed the cameras to the audience in the front few rows and it was all polo shirt white guys and their perfectly made up collegen implanted wives / girlfriends, certainly not the domestic beer swilling common man – the real fan who blasted ACDC out of their Camaros all summer long growing up – those people could barely afford the nosebleed seats…

Sent from my BlackBerry(r) smartphone with SprintSpeed


I went to the AC/DC show at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. For free. Live Nation contact offered freebies (very similar to the description below). I asked how many tickets I could get…and the response was "seriously? 20 or 30. Whatever you need." I requested 16 tickets, invited a bunch of people. Show was fun, although 2/3 full at best even with the papering. BUT-$40 to park at the stadium. Fucking ridiculous. No wonder people don't want to go anymore. You're ripped off at every turn. (And yes, I realize the irony of bitching about parking when the tix were free-but imagine the ire of those people who paid a small fortune for tickets and THEN got fucked on the parking!)

Keep on preaching,
David Ginsburg


Don Sullivan:

I thought you could buy a meatball sandwich at subway and see a live nation concert this summer for $5

Sent from my iPhone


Weren't the agents and concert promoters the ones clapping themselves on the back a year ago during the worst of the recession, stating that the concert business was "unaffected"? Sure – because people were going to see shows that had been on sale for 8 months! Fact of the matter is, with social media the way it is now, people are catching onto the fact that these companies are fucking consumers up the ass. $16 for a beer. $20 for parking. Facility fees. You name it, they've been doing it for years, and now it's finally coming home to roost.

Probably the worst offenses that I can imagine are in the ticketing department. Holding back the best seats in the house so that the consumer who gets up early, waits online or IN line to get a ticket is rewarded by getting mediocre seats. Thats the surest way to ensure that people will just wait for the DVD – going to the gig is NOT WORTH IT!

Stephen Tatton

SureFire Media + Promotion



Back in the brief golden era when the music still came first, I saw Mountain with T. Rex at Bill Graham's Fillmore East for a whopping $3.50. They both blew any of today's bands away. Three months later, the Fillmore closed and a new era of musical asphyxiation began – tons of hype, big promotion, even bigger ticket and album prices and – with all of that – less real, quality music. I can't see it ever going back.

Bob Brennan


Hi Bob,

You are so on target here! It would be great if the American public would actually boycott concerts for a season… or a year. Send a message to the blood sucking vampire artists and promoters that , "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

Unfortunately, it's not just the music business that needs to get that message. The leaders of our nation, with very few exceptions, have drifted out of touch. And what generation is to blame… why it's the "Baby Bummers", you know "The Greediest Generation". Somewhere along the way we decided that love was not all we needed… we also had to have that SUV and that boat and that house… the big one we really couldn't afford… unless… we overpriced our products or services just enough to cover our bets.

I'm sad to say that I fall right smack dab in the middle of the"Bummers". It's my generation… shame on us!

But that's just my opinion…

Jim Bacon



Normally wouldn't bother with you but this is ridiculous
_Be honest with your readers -you didn't really bother to check any facts regarding the sales on the u2 360 tour did you

__If you have been following the box scores or in fact if you had called and asked me you would have discovered that this is indeed on track to be a record setting tour on every level_
Most tickets sold in history for a tour_
Highest gross in history for a tour_
Sales records in virtually every venue played

__So far 15 shows played and 15 sellouts__

97 percent of capacity sold so far for a stadium tour with the largest per show capacities in the history of our business_
Come on bob stay with me here -you need to pay attention

__Are you familiar with the production and what It achieves
_Take a look at sales numbers
_Barcelona -2 shows 180300 sold_
Milan -2 shows 151000 sold_
Paris -2 shows 184000 sold_
Zagreb 2 shows 120000_
Amsterdam 2 shows 122000 sold_
Berlin 1 show 88000 sold
_Dublin 3 shows 240000 sold_
On and on

___Let's keep going because I know you -you will start to backtrack in the face of the facts -you will say well ok I get europe but…..__

Let's look at upcoming NA sales_
Chicago 2 shows 128000 sold_
Toronto 2 shows 108000_
Boston 2 shows 127000 sold_
Nyc-160000 sold
_LA 1 show 94000 sold
_Washington 1 show 72000 sold_
Tampa 1 show 61000 sold
_Dallas 1 show 63000 sold_
On and on___

Inevitably you are going to look dumb again

__The show is brilliant, the production is revolutionary,reviews incredible
_and the success is well deserved_
you see you have it ass backwards-it is called show business
_Unlike the shit you think is happening-real concert fans want a show, a spectacle, an experience and great songs_
And that is why u2 is the biggest band in the world

___Ps thought you had learned your lesson on Madonna
_You know the "spectacle" sticky+sweet which has grossed 415m on 79 shows
_I thought you said a woman pop star couldn't do business in stadiums -_

You know- oseary and fogel crazy_
you know what she said -he must have a really big pen because everything else is likely very small______

Arthur Fogel_
CEO Global Touring and Chairman – Global Music_
Live Nation


From: Bob Lefsetz
To: Arthur Fogel

I'm addressing a different issue.
One of demand, not grosses.
Used to be, you just couldn't get a ticket. I agree, most U2 tickets sold, but not all.
So, with Madonna and U2 you report big grosses, but there are cracks in the edifices. Smaller in the case of those two, but they're representative of the whole.

And, meanwhile, the album was still a stiff. And you would have gone clean in moments if it wasn't.


From: Arthur Fogel
To: Bob Lefsetz

you are making yourself look more foolish with an answer like that
It is not a different point at all_
You don't check your facts _


And Bob, for the first time ever you could buy U2 tickets here in their hometown on the day of the show (last week's dates). Unheard of. Usually all sold out in Dublin in 5 minutes, 6 months ahead…

Dermot Hanrahan



Just saw U2 at the Three Croke Park concerts in Dublin. 80,000 plus fans, three nights not one person sitting everyone singing at the top of their lungs. Lots of scalpers giving tickets away 10 Euros I heard. Great shows but you are right a formulae that needs to change.

Ken Seider


Heya Bob

live nation does NOT want to sell out shows. if they do sell out a show the ticket price was to low. it's like with the $1.29 on itunes: sell 15% less but chrage 30% more and you are still on top.
u2's tour is some 90% sold as far as i know, and all the cheep tickets are gone. so i guess the ticket price was right this time…

Greetings from Switzerland

Olivier Schonbeck


Very interesting. I won tickets to the AC/DC Foxboro show but decided not to make the 2 hour drive from New Hampshire vacation because while AC/DC is great, going to Foxboro, paying $30 for parking to my free show, seeing the show and driving back is an 8-9 hour, go to bed at 3 am with my ears ringing ordeal I didn't want to deal with for almost the exact same show I saw 10 years ago.

It's very hard for me to enjoy super mega stadium shows. Maybe because I am 45 and jaded. I am going to U2 next month, but that will probably be it for my trips to Foxboro.

But in the past couple years, I went to see Rickie Lee Jones and Thomas Dolby at small clubs in Boston at a very reasonable price and volume level, and left feeling moved and thrilled at their talents and not gouged at all, and that got me thinking that was the kind of concert experience I'll seek out in the future.



I think you are looking at a small segment of the concert industry. I am agent for the Randy Rogers Band, and tonight in Austin we had 4500 people (a venue record), Earlier this week, over 2000 (sold out) in Corpus Christi. This is only 2 weeks after we opened for Corey Smith in Atlanta, where he had 6500 people. It is true that our tickets are around the $20 mark, but maybe bands like these are whom the people are spending Saturday nights with.

-Henry Glascock



Arco Arena, thru Ticketmaster, is selling tickets this weekend to Wednesday night's Rod Stewart show for 20 BUCKS (plus fees) thru a special email sent to folks who receive updates about events at Arco.
I've never seen Rod, and had been checking back now and then to see if any good seats were released. I kept getting section 101 (opposite side of the arena from the stage) Row D – and there was no way I was paying $120 plus fees for that. So when I clicked thru the email from Arco, I tried for one seat, and got it AGAIN. I thought, COME ON! So on a whim, I tried for 2 tickets, figuring my buddy might go if I got some good seats. I got the same section, same row, but now 2 seats. Jeezus! So I gave it one more try, using "best available" (vs. "lower level") – to my utter shock, got Section 1, FOURTH ROW on the FLOOR, seats 9 & 10 (which is towards center stage).

I jumped on those tix, and convinced my buddy to go. Including fees, I paid 66 dollars total for tickets that were normally priced at $120 (plus fees) EACH.

To bad Sleep Train in Wheatland is Live Nation… With a deal like that, I'd go see Def Lep and Cheap Trick (and suffer thru Poison)…..

jj in sacramento


UK isn't too bad but we saw writing on the wall 18 months ago. As a result in most cases prices are reasonable – problem is when acts tour too much therefore the show isn't special and people won't go even when price is fair. The ticket price is only one cost of an evening at a gig._Take That did fantastic business but kept prices low and the least good seats were only £25 for a fantastic evening of entertainment. We did over 50k sales for both AC/DC and Springsteen in Glasgow but neither had played Scotland for a long time and prices were reasonable._ Festivals are great value in UK and on the whole continue to prosper – they are the I-pod of live music. T in the Park has already sold 50% of its tickets for 2010. Don't fleece them and they will come back!

Geoff Ellis


Hi Bob,

Concert ticket prices are stupid. It's because the promoters forgot what ONCE in a lifetime means. It doesn't mean twice or three times.

And the 'specialness' of the 'once' in a lifetime shows is over. Which is why the shows are not filling up. Oh, and did I mention there's a recession on?

When the Eagles started this crazy run-up, most of their true fans had never seen them live and were willing to pay a lot just to see them. For a 'once' in a lifetime experience.

Then Paul Simon, McCartney and others jumped on the bandwagon. Set a high ticket for 'once' in a lifetime.

Well, the hard core fans have now had the 'once' in a lifetime experience. And, they don't have the money for a second.

I love Van Morrison. I saw him do Astral Weeks – what I thought would be a 'once in a lifetime' experience – $125 plus another $20 in 'fees'. If, I'd had the money for the $375 front of the house seats I would have bought them for the once in a lifetime experience.

Now, he's back (3 times in the NY, CT area in the past 6 months). Thrice in a lifetime! I have a wealthy friend who sees him everywhere he plays. He wants me to see Van at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.

Wish I could.

But, with a $205 PLUS fees ticket price (for a mid-theatre seat), there's no way I can afford it. I already had my once in a lifetime for Astral Weeks.

I don't think I'm alone.

I love Leonard Cohen. I saw him at the Palace ($157 PLUS fees) and it was phenomenal. Once in a lifetime. But, now he's coming back to MSG. I'd like to see him but that would mean close to $200. I'd be there in a heartbeat for under $75 all in.

We have a local theatre near me that books some great acts. 250 seats. Tickets around $50 to see artists like Richie Havens, Jewel, Levon Helms, Earl Klugh or Rufus Wainwright. It may not be once in a lifetime, but the shows are great, you are up close, the price is right, the parking is free and there are no FEES.

That's where I'm putting my concert money these days.

John Parikhal
Joint Communications Corporation


Perfect example is Cold Play coming to Tampa next week and it crossed my mind to go but then I remembered that when I saw them in LA last yr I was Pissed that they only played like 1:35 and felt massively ripped off.. Once burnt twice shy !



It's not the concert business that's dying.
It's the audience for all these acts.
Specifically, all the boomers who would be at these shows if there portfolios hadn't disintegrated last year.
Quality acts with a younger demographic and a 20 – 30 dollar ticket price are doing well. At least up here in Toronto




Excuse the bad picture on the link below. I've had to review a few shows this summer at sheds around Chicago. As I have gone to will call for each of these shows, there are announcements to which shows they are offering discounts to and this is what I saw at two different shows over the last few weeks:

One comment I received from a music industry veteran who saw my post was "What's the gag? Parking to your average Aerosmith show costs more than $15".

As I walked into the venue, you are barraged by people trying to sell you tickets to not just ampitheater shows but to other Live Nation shows at smaller venues. The average ticket prices (all in) were between $5 and $10 for most of these acts. The irony is that the overwhelming amount of people I spoke to are just tired of the business and didn't want to be harassed. An ongoing comment I heard was "They have enough money" (referring to the acts and the promoters). The overwhelming feeling is that people do not want to pay more than $25 (all in) for cheap seats/lawn tickets and they don't feel like paying more than $75 for the best seats. A broker I spoke to recently told me that when Britney Spears was here, he sold the $65 face-value balcony seats for face but the $150 lower level seats they had to sell 2-for-1 and he told me that it took him until 7:30pm to get rid of them at that price.

People are tired of being taken advantage of and when they see these acts report their yearly earnings in Billboard and Rolling Stone, they don't congratulate their heroes, they realize how badly they have been taken advantage of. When they see Bon Jovi and Springsteen making $200+ million for a years work, they become bitter because what goes through the average fans head is "Couldn't they cut their ticket price in half and still be happy with $100 million?". When they look at the Billboard Boxscore and see that U2 make $55-million from six concerts, they wonder why with even a $100-million stage, that they can't charge a little less? In a nation where people are struggling to make mortgages, are losing jobs left and right, they are now beginning to look upon many of these rock stars in the same light as CEO's from financial instituions. In my humble opinion, this will haunt the concert industry for decades.

Tony Kuzminski
antiMusic Network-Special Features Editor


Hey Bob,

__There is something redeeming about the general public finally waking up to the crap that's been being rehashed for the last 25 years. Yeah, I'd rather watch a 1982 ACDC video than to go see a bunch of sweaty pre-senior citizens creek around on stage. It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic. Then there's the issue of absolute crap concessions and their ridiculous prices. $12 for an 18-oz watered-down Miller beer? $5 for a bottle of water that everyone knows costs 49 cents. People feel insulted. They are over the corporate greed machine.

Tony Ferraro



I don't understand how artists can demand fees that don't allow their promoters to break even. Promoters have to rely on beer sales and sponsors before they can think about making a profit. It doesn't seem to matter if the band is a local or national act. Bands typically demand more money than ticket sales can support even if the show sells out and then when you consider rental fees and production costs… How can the independent promoter break even let alone turn a profit?



Keep this anonymous but live nation also just cut their money they pay theIr affiliates down to 1.5% from 3%.


if live shows are the bread and butter of a bands income, how is it that they are so desperate to pad seats that they just up and give away 60$ (at least) tickets yet and 99 cent download "thieves" are being sent to jail and sued for millions?




Toby Keith & Trace Adkins only sold 5200 tickets out of 12,000 capacity then the show got cancelled due to severe weather the day of and now they have a month and a half to try to push it through. They were even doing 2 tickets for $40 and $15 lawn on certain days/weekends.

Tim Jones


Hi Bob,

This off twitter 10 mins ago!

"For 20% off tickets to see Oasis at the I-Day Festival in Milan on 30th August, go to"

Also, there are promoters out there selling well, one of them is these guys: – and the reason it's probably working is because of the things you mention in your mails. They're providing a great, civilised experience for punters who are engaged in intelligent music. They've been slow and thorough on their journey (10 years) and punters, promoters and artists respect for each other is mutual. They are succeeding and growing. More of these guys, less of the other guys.

Louis Warner


Those big Rock and Roll Hall of fame shows went on sale to the general public this morning at 9 after being on Amex Pre-sale for a week.

I was curious about grabbing a ticket to the second night with U2 Clapton and Metallica. It is 1:40 PM EST and I was able to purchase a ticket in section 83, in the loge right above the floor.

One would think that level of talent could sell out the Garden pretty quickly even at a $2500 top ticket price.

Seth Diamond


Couldn't agree with you more, Bob. I've always been a huge Aerosmith fan. A mere ten years ago I would get a $40 ticket through the fan club, drive up to 8 hours to each venue, pay for a hotel room – for less than $200 bucks. I did this five times on the Nine Lives tour alone. FIVE TIMES! Back then the fan club was worth something and they gave you a payback for loyalty – usually a 2nd row ticket. Fifth row at worst.

Now, Aerosmith is coming an hour from my home and I'm refusing to see them. $250 for a ticket to be guaranteed a coveted seat in the first 25 rows???? I don't think so. Why am I in the fan club again? What is my reward for loyalty? Oh yes, if I want to be guaranteed in the second row I have to buy the platinum package that gets me two minute meet and greet with Steven and Joe. Only $1,200!!! What a deal!

And big acts don't understand why their tickets aren't selling?? WAKE UP! The most unfortunate part is that they are screwing their long time, and most loyal fans the most. All for the all mighty buck.

They lost this fan. Sad that they can't see beyond their own asses.

Rose Triebner


Here's news flash: baby boomers don't like sitting on the lawn or standing up in an old venue that's had the seats ripped out. I should know; we had folks from Atlanta make the 3-hour drive to Tuscaloosa to see Aimee Mann at my theatre because – their words – they "didn't want to stand up for two hours at the (venue) in Atlanta." I hear this from a lot of people. At 57 years of age, I feel the same way. Just saying.

David Allgood
Bama Theatre
Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Guess this show can't sell out without 50% off sales either. Great pieces from you about this concert industry.

Saw Steely Dan Friday, cost me $4 to buy Dasani, water from the tap so to speak, if I wasn't desperate they wouldn't even get that from me.

I never buy anything at a show at the prices they charge and frankly, tomorrow's Depeche Mode show might be my last concert experience ever. I'm so done with the rude fuckers outside searching me. What gives them the right to give me attitude? Who's paying whose salary here?

And it's just no longer fun listening to people talk behind me while the others next to me text their friends. No one's even tuned in to the music they spent money to attend.

Bill Cason
VP Media & Artist Development
Shanachie Entertainment


"Now the concert business is imploding."

Now? It was in serious trouble two years ago… only now has the mainstream caught on… late as always…

"Ticket sales are not in the dumper because of the economy."

Seriously? That is a strange conclusion… considering that the common fan was all to happy to pay exorbitant prices to see over the hill acts as recently as a year ago… Or did you not notice that about a year ago more and more shows were going on sale earlier and earlier? It was all about getting that last buck before the shit hit the fan. Maybe the folks running things aren't as stupid as you think. They certainly still live in nice houses and drive expensive cars.

They saw the coming storm and got all they could while they could. And you know what? They are still making money playing to half empty buildings. They were smart enough to get in bed with brokers and form alternate income streams. Did they fuck over the fans? Of course… after all, who cares about the fans or the music. Turn and burn. It's over anyhow. We're all whistling past the graveyard.

As for newspapers… let's see where everyone gets their (for the most part) accurate and responsible journalism once newspapers are dead and buried. Or do you think TMZ is going to open a Baghdad bureau soon? Be careful what you wish for… I guess serious journalism is no longer needed in a country where Britney's shaved pussy is considered "newsworthy"…

Get in the starting blocks, it's a race to the bottom and we've got a long way to go before we get there. You think it's bad now? Another wave of foreclosures, 25% unemployment (the real number, not the bullshit government statistic), the collapse of commercial real estate and massive credit card defaults should have us good and buried by this time next year.

But at least we can print more money, right?

Roy Jurgens


Hi Bob.

The reason that Live Nation is offering no service charge Wednesday's, 2 for 1 tickets and the other packages is not because they care about the fans and the economy, like they have been saying, it is because they don't have enough money to pay for the artist deposits for the summer season and they desperately need to have more income to pay the artists deposits.

The booking agents and managers are very nervous right now. They do understand that Live Nation may not be able to pay them if their acts don't sell enough tickets, but this is not changing the way they do business.

The agents are asking substantially more than their acts are worth in most situations and won't accept reasonable offers from promoters. If the promoter doesn't give the agent whats he asks, they don't perform in that city or market.

Agents and managers do not feel the need to have their acts perform if they don't get the amount of money they think they are worth, and now agents and managers believe their acts are worth what the highest fee paid has been, and with the big festivals paying stupid amounts of money to acts, these huge amounts are what the agents and managers believe their acts are worth almost everywhere.

The Grateful Dead book, A Long Strange Trip, by Dennis McNally is a must read for anyone interested in rock music and the concert business. From their inception in 1965, the Dead were apolitical, yet played at just about any rally or event they were asked to. A large part of their shows between 1965 and the early 1970s, were free shows to the public and they didn't get paid. So why did The Grateful Dead play political events that they had no direct interest in and why did they play hundreds of parties, events and concerts if they knew they would not be paid? BECAUSE THEY ARE MUSICIANS AND MUSICIANS PLAY MUSIC AND BECAUSE THEY ARE A ROCK BAND AND WHAT GOOD IS A ROCK BAND WITHOUT A PLACE AND REASON TO PLAY!!!.

The Grateful Dead played because they loved to play, for themselves and for the fans. An act is only as good as its fans and the Grateful Dead were a great band with great fans and their decisions to play for anyone who asked them to, and for little or no money, directly related to their ability to sell huge numbers of tickets, wherever they went, for the rest of their extremely long and successful career.

The concert business is currently being run by people who don't give a shit about music, the fans or the acts. It is only and solely about the deals and making as much money as possible while doing as little work as possible. The acts keep playing shorter and shorter sets, in fewer cities, while asking more and more money each time and we wonder why people aren't buying concert tickets?

Nothing short of a complete and total meltdown of the concert business is going to have any real impact on the people who are currently operating the concert business. The concert business will be completely destroyed by the short sightedness and greed of the agents, managers and acts, and hopefully some kinder, enthusiastic, music based people will step up and care for a once great business that meant so much to so many people for such a long time.

This thing that is currently called the concert business bears no resemblance to the business I knew and loved as a kid going to concerts in the 1970's and as a businessman that operated a successful concert company until 1997.

The short version is Fuck Robert Sillerman, Fuck Live Nation, Fuck Clear Channel, Fuck WMG, Interscope/A&M/Geffen, Fuck the major agencies, management companies, record labels and Fuck all the other corporations and greedy people that forgot about the art and magic of music and who sucked the life and excitement out of music and trashed a beautiful business, society and culture.

The thing that still gets me is that before Clear Channel gobbled up the majority of the radio stations, before Robert Sillerman, before Vivendi, before all the big companies merged and conglomerated the different areas of the music business, these pre-merger businesses were very profitable, exciting and vibrant and after the merging and consolidation (which was meant to drastically increase profits), all these companies have lost more money than most people believed possible and are currently and consistently losing huge amounts of money, with no real plan to turn it around while continuing to alienate the remaining music fans.

The merging and conglomerating of the music business has not worked for anyone, except the few superstar acts, their managers and agents. They have hijacked all of the music fans' disposable income for their few, already established acts and have laid waste to, what was once the most relevant art form on the planet earth. They trashed a beautiful culture for the sake of making more money for the already extremely rich, to the detriment of music fans everywhere.

Tom Bunch
TAB Management

Subject: More Concerts

Lyman had one of the biggest stars in the world in 1998 that would of
treated him and his vision like kings, but he treated me like a bitch. And
now he's the bitch, punk rock??? Maybe punk ass mofo!? In the immortal words
of ted nugent "fuck him in the nose". I respect em, na, no I don't….he
sucked "penny wise" dick and all them california bands dicks….he sucked
mine eventually, but now its too late. He's one of the many that think
"cool" is for sale. Its not. Ask paul allen. (But I love "vans" shoes,
comfortable as hell!!!)

Kid Rock


Re-Arthur Fogel/U2

these counts are lies

I know this for a fact

one of the shows is over 20,000 short of the number Arthur says

they tell congress they're on their death bed…and just watch tomorrow's
quarterly report trumpet how great things are

the news has been full of people getting in big trouble painting the wrong
picture to stockholders, investors, and the public

and so will they

name withheld by request


I don't know if you knew this but, I dock my sail boat at Ontario Place
Marina, directly behind the Molson Amphitheatre and can HEAR any concert I
want, plain as day, and can have a conversation as well…

Best so far? Judas Priest/Whitesnake and Def Leppard/Cheap Trick (barbecued
during Poison, ahem)… They're as good as they ever were.

The only show I have any interest in seeing with my own eyes is Kid Rock. I
went with Karen and Sari last year (via the ss Chiquita), and he was
freaking great.

Costs me nothing….. And I pay about $2 a beer from my cooler. Can't really
beat that now can ya?

RJ Guha
Matrix Entertainment (est. 1992)


Metallica. Still very relevant, still touring to sold out shows. Why?
Decent ticket prices and an excellent live show. Due to their ticket prices
being lower, they won't be up in the top selling tour list, but if you went
by tickets sold, rather than gross, they'd be right up there. Pearl Jam is
the same way. They sell out shows in minutes, and keep the prices down.
Amazing how both of these bands can do arena tours, sell out AND manage to
keep the price reasonable all at the same time. It's nice to see that not
all rock bands are greedy.



I love the comment that Madonna should play smaller venues so people can
hear her sing. I thought that was the point of the dancing- no one can hear
her sing.

William Nollman


The entire concert business is not imploding, you just have to look at the
right shows. This morning, the AP Tour Fall Ball went on pre-sale. For 4
bands at the Avalon, service charges, and $1 for shipping, my ticket came
out to $18.99. After about an hour or two of pre-sale tickets going on sale,
a few venues had already sold out. True this is the pre-sale (thus less
tickets, easier to sell out), but I'm sure a lot of these dates will sell
out quickly once the rest of the tickets go on sale, because THEY'RE

Feeling good about this purchase, I decided to get Rob Thomas and Carolina
Liar (a group you had actually written about a few months ago) tickets, as
it's Livenation's good deals day. They're playing at Gibson Aphitheatre,
which is *not* doing the service fee free day. Just the tickets were about
$50. I guess I'm skipping that show.

Liza Sheketoff


Man, all you have to do is watch that Nickelback video to see why these guys
are killin it at the box office and still selling records, I am not a huge
fan but they know their audience and have the formula buttoned down pat.
Cheesy but catchy songs that let people rock out with their first pumpin,
who else is giving that today?

Richard Deacon
President Saddle-Up Media



When all of the small stage (lost count of how many side stages their are)
are "buy-ons" by bands and labels (not to mention how much every single tent
costs to rent) and you have tons of sponsor cash, and you take 30% of ALL of
the bands merch, you don't HAVE to discount…

Please don't print my name. But him writing that is pretty disgusting…


Hey Bob

I'm sure you know…but Phish just sold out 4 nights in a row at Red Rocks.
Offers for tickets I heard in the lot included $350 cash, $150 cash plus
weed, $150 cash plus tickets to the next two shows at the Gorge, $100 cash
plus the sex act of the lucky extra ticket holder's choice from the naked
chick making the offer.

Red Rocks is a special place…and Phish is still a special band.

Marty Acaster


Hey Bob,
Long time listener, first time caller.

I usually don't pay attention to the big names in touring because the ticket
costs have been pretty ridiculous for quite a while. But this one caught my
eye, and in case no one's emailed you about it already, I thought you'd get
a laugh:

For the bargain price of $10 you get a chance to open for Creed. You also
get free tickets to the show, just for submitting to the "contest." I bet
they really, really hope you come. The best part of this listing? Check it

"Selected artists will be able to sell $10 tickets to their fans (no
obligation) to see them perform at the show. Bringing fans will not only
provide a better experience for the selected band but will also make a good
impression on Live Nation."

Live Nation wants you to bring as many fans as you can. Oh, and do their
job for them. You know, so you make a good impression….because wouldn't
you want to work with a company that can't seem to sell tickets, properly
promote, and successfully book a tour for a multi-platinum rock band from
the 90s?


Subject: A Bit More Concerts…


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

Subject: 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

Subject: Continuing Concert Thread

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

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"

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 strategy…it'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

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

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

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? 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 music…my job is to keep the beer flowing
and the guys thinking they can get laid….im 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