Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

So who’s going to be this summer’s Neil Diamond?

What radio ads reveal about the summer’s poorly selling shows

Do youse know the words to "Sweet Caroline"?

Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 09:19


There are some shows which don’t need radio ads. You won’t have heard much paid-for mentions on your wireless for the Mumford & Sons’ show at the Phoenix Park, a sure sign that the gig is selling well. You also won’t have heard any ads for the five upcoming Bruce Springsteen shows because those gigs sold well and sold early.

But it’s a different matter with other gigs, as Irish music fans discovered with the endless ads for Neil Diamond and Madonna in recent summers. It seems that there’s an ad running for the upcoming Michael Bublé shows in Dublin’s O2 every time I turn on RTE Radio One (at least the promoters knows the market).

Many people believed that these five shows were sold out months ago, but “extra tickets” have now been found. “Extra tickets” are always an interesting proposition for a venue with a fixed capacity like the O2 when you’d expect that every seat would be easy to account for. While you’ll often get production tickets (those blocks of seats initially with-held from sale to facilitate the act’s production requirements) going back on sale close to show day, the amount of ads for Bublé are something else.

That’s nothing, though, compared to the onslaught of radio ads for this week’s Phoenix Park appearances by Justin Timberlake and The Killers. Neither show seems to have caught the public imagination and, despite a great current album for the former and a fine support bill for the latter, the ads have been thrown around with gay abandon to try to shift those thousands of tickets.

Good news for the radio stations, of course (especially if they don’t have a contra deal with the promoter giving them free ads in return for tickets), but more costs for the promoter to shoulder. It’s also a sign that there has been very little innovation when it comes to promoting live music – it’s still about ads, radio play and press and, when that doesn’t work, more of the same, er, ad infinitum.

Of course, both gigs may well enjoy a late spike this week because of the fine weather. There has been a lot written about how the shows will be policed - there’s even going to be a hotline for residents manned by the promoter’s staff, which sets an interesting precedent for future big gigs – but, as always, there has been little information about how the shows are selling and won’t be until after the fact. While it’s another indication of news priorities when it comes to music, where music is seen as something for the showbiz desk unless there’s an outbreak of Swedish House Mafia-itis and the crime boys can move in, it’s also a sign of how close the promoter holds the cards to his chest.

But, as with our old friend Neil Diamond, the ads give away a lot. Watch and see what other gigs this summer turn up again and again between the chatter and the music on your favourite radio station in the coming months.