First things first, I’m not siding with Gordon Gecko.
We all know the dude’s trademark line — “Greed is good!” — as voiced by Michael Douglas’ character in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street.” I’m not really buying it, even if it may seem that way at first.
The issue on hand here is a familiar one: exorbitant concert ticket prices.
Last weekend, Bon Jovi upped the ante further still for tickets to their upcoming show at the MGM Grand in March, with a top price of $2,150 for VIP front row seats (which come with a hospitality package that includes an open bar, $150 merchandise gift card, program, laminate and more), even if the cheap seats start at $59.50.
The knee-jerk reaction is obvious: Here’s a bunch of millionaire rock stars further gouging fans at a time when lots of them are struggling just to make ends meet.
But is this really fair? Sure, those prices are extreme, but if people are willing to pay that — and some surely are — should Bon Jovi not cash in? Honestly, I can’t really argue against it.
Why? Mainly because of the rise of the secondary ticket market. Ticket brokers have demonstrated that oftentimes concert tickets, no matter how costly they may seem, are sold at below market value. This is why a ticket broker can buy a good seat for a hot show for, say, $200, and then turn around and sell it for $1,000. The market is there, so why should the proceeds go to a middleman and not the band themselves? At least if the money goes to the artist, maybe some of it can go back into the production of the show.
What some people don’t know is that ticket agencies often have access to big swaths of the house before tickets ever go on sale to the public, and they jack up prices before anyone has a chance at those seats. They are huge culprits in escalating ticket costs and the furthest thing from consumer advocates imaginable, so really, who cares if they’re left out in the cold? And that’s what charging market value from the get-go surely will do.
We all know that premium goods cost premium prices. It’s not anyone’s inalienable right to have affordable access to the best seats at a Metallica gig. So get over it.
Sure, you could argue that promoters are going to try to overcharge for tickets at first, get a few suckers to buy, then dump the remaining seats off to secondary retailers at a discount.
But hey, buyer beware. It’s like when some people line up for days to be the first to get some piece of new technology, like, say, the iPhone, knowing that a year from now it probably will cost half as much.
The fact is, with the record industry in collapse, bands no longer make much money selling CDs, and so they have to turn to other outlets for revenue, and this is going to mean higher and higher ticket prices.
You don’t have to like it. But you had better get used to it.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.