Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Anyone buying or selling a ticket?

Last week in Seattle, I found out that Neil Young was playing in town. I’m not a huge fan of old Shakey, but I still wouldn’t mind a look. I went online to buy a ticket. The cheapest I could …

Wed, Oct 31, 2007, 10:13


Last week in Seattle, I found out that Neil Young was playing in town. I’m not a huge fan of old Shakey, but I still wouldn’t mind a look. I went online to buy a ticket. The cheapest I could find was $147 and that was before I factored in the Ticketmaster convenience charges. I went to the cinema instead.


It seems I’m not the only one saying no to over-priced musical fare. This piece explains what’s going on in Denver at the moment and I’m sure there are similar stories to be heard all over the United States (indeed, here’s one from Charlottesville, Virginia for instance).

But we don’t even have to go to the U S of A for tales like this. We may be the biggest concert goers in Europe (as per one of those dodgy surveys which crop up with monotonous regularity), but this doesn’t mean that every single live show is going to sell out. On the contrary, the autumn/winter season has already seen some heavy losses all round. Look at the late, late transfer of the Groove Armada/Dizzee Rascal double-bill from the Some Days Never End fest at the Irish Museum of Modern Art to the much smaller Tripod. The Frames are playing in Dublin tonight and it’s the first time in a decade that I can recall tickets for one of their Dublin shows still on sale on the day of the gig. There are also still tickets on sale for plenty of shows like Wilco and Animal Collective and Stereophonics, all shows I (and the promoter probably) thought would sell out within a few days.

Maybe it’s the ticket prices. Regular On The Record readers will have noticed a couple of posters of late giving out about this very same subject (especially ticket prices for the M.I.A. gig), people like Steve K:

M.I.A. and Justice are bands that would usually come to Dublin, go somewhere like Tripod, and cost twenty bills. Now they go to Phoenix Park and it’s fourty-five… how much wonga do they think indie kids have? (Dumb question)

And Jenn

Why is this gig €45 when EVERYWHERE else on the goddamn tour it only costs about a tenner. This is utter crap. I’m surprised it’s Aiken pulling an MCD on it. They are claiming it’s because of the size of the venue, why is it always Irish fans that have to fork out unbelivable prices to see relatively new artists?

And here’s Ciaran Mc

M.I.A. 07/12 Dublin €44.20. M.I.A. 08/12 London £8.50. That’s FOUR TIMES the price, people. How can Aiken possibly justify this?

It’s this kind of punter outrage which would make me, if I was a live music employee or entrepreneur, a little edgy. With the traditional record industry looking almost as worse for wear as Stan, the live music industry is supposed to be thriving. It’s the sector which all of those who try to make a few bob from music think will carry the day. Big promoters are now offering the kind of deals which were once the sole preserve of the major labels. They’re the ones with the money and the expansionist tendencies. Why else, after all, are Live Nation reportedly talking to Denis Desmond about the purchase of MCD Concerts? Surely Denis isn’t getting out while the going’s good, is he?

Few, though, have bothered to look at this from the audience’s side of the fence. It’s easy to see why: we (and I’m as guilty as any of my music writing and commenting peers in this regard) get into shows for free and don’t shell out for our tickets.

So it’s time to turn the tables – what are YOUR views on buying concert tickets at the moment? Are there too many shows on to go round? Are you finding that you are going to more or less shows than you were a year or two ago? Does the price of a ticket dictate your decision to go out to a show or stay at home by the fire? Have you gone to a gig abroad instead of going to one in Ireland because it appeared to be better value to you? What about the summer festivals, are they beginning to price themselves out of your reach? What about Ticketmaster, the source of much anger in all of this, have you ever complained formally to a consumer agency about their charges? Or are they only part of the problem? Finally, who do YOU think is to blame for the high ticket prices – the act, the promoter, On The Record or the general cost of living on the edge of western Europe?

Get typing.