Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Anyone buying or selling tickets?

Anyone who was observing yesterday’s discussion about why people are skipping the Electric Picnic this year will be interested in this piece about ticket sales for the summer’s gigs, festivals and events which is published in today’s newspaper. I talked …

Wed, Jun 22, 2011, 08:34

   

Anyone who was observing yesterday’s discussion about why people are skipping the Electric Picnic this year will be interested in this piece about ticket sales for the summer’s gigs, festivals and events which is published in today’s newspaper.

I talked to a number of promoters, from Peter Aiken at Aiken Promotions and John Reynolds at POD (the biggest promoters in the country MCD supplied a 13 word statement in response to a request for an interview and a list of questions) to Paul Fahy at the Galway Arts Festival and Cillan Stewart at Castlepalooza, about how ticket sales were going this year.

As I say in the piece, there may be plenty of anecdotal evidence that it’s a tough summer for promoters, but they’re putting on a brave face. That said, all admit quite freely that the business has changed on several levels. The biggest difference between now and the good times when everything was selling out the minute you put it on sale is that punters are not buying tickets in advance. Paul Fahy put it best: “In 2008, we had a very high box office and everything was selling out two weeks in advance. In 2009, it changed drastically and things you expected to sell out were selling out two days in advance. Last year, things were selling out two minutes in advance…That’s the reality, people are holding on longer before they book.”

While there have been a lot of new arrivals this year, Cillian Stewart believes the market has peaked. “You can see from photos and people talking that there have been a few festivals this summer where they didn’t get the numbers”, he says. “It’s a real test this year and there will be a lot of festivals that won’t happen next year as a result. You won’t have any new ones either. The market is now saturated. There’s plenty of choice, which is great, because you can go to a festival every weekend if you want, but at this point, there’s just too much.”

There is also evidence that ticket prices are having an impact. After all, when you have the GAA reducing ticket prices for the rest of the hurling and football championships due to falling attendances at the games so far this summer (though they’re increasing the price for the All-Ireland finals to make up for this), you know price is having an effect. It’s like that ad on the radio for some electricity company: people may want good service and quality, but price is what matters.

While we’ve seen some attempts to change pricing structures – Harmonic did a series of ticket package deals earlier in the year for some of their shows and, as you can see from the panel with the piece, there have been price reductions and no change in prices in a lot of cases (though Jon Bon Jovi wants more cash to see him live) – a massive reduction in prices across the board has not happened. And yes, we can blame the acts for this as they’re the ones who set the prices through the fees they charge. There won’t be any reduction in prices until that happens.

All comments on the piece and the topics raised welcome.

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