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They’re musicians, not economists, but still……

The Cure also criticised Ticketmaster over its “dynamic pricing” policy, introduced in the UK in 2022 and used by artists such as Harry Styles and Coldplay, which inflates the price of remaining tickets for in-demand concerts. The Cure opted out of dynamic pricing, calling it “a greedy scam – and all artists have the choice not to participate … if no artists participated, it would cease to exist”.

So what actually should be done with something in short supply at a particular price?

It’s possible to increase supply. Play an extra gig. It’s possible to reduce demand – slag off a trannie and watch the audience shrink perhaps. Or, prices can change so as to match supply and demand. Or, obviously, it’s possible to have some sort of lottery – and electronic queues are a lottery – whereby some gain tickets at the official price and some do not. Which leads to the secondary market in tickets where tickets turn out to cost whatever the supply/demand balance says tickets are worth.

Those are the options. So, whatever one thinks of Ticketmaster, which option you gonna go for?

No, sorry, that you’re a musician, that these are fans, does not elevate you or them above these basic worries of economics.

24 thoughts on “They’re musicians, not economists, but still……”

  1. A good concert needs a balanced audience. If only middle-classes can afford tickets, the concert will lack energy. Ideally you want 95% of tickets sold at full price; but 5% of tickets subsidised for time-rich cash-poor fans.

    Doesn’t solve the pricing problem for the 95%, but it does get rid of the whining from people like the Guardian.

  2. The Meissen Bison

    What would be (very slightly) interesting would be to know what impact dynamic pricing has on the secondary market (i.e. ticket touts) if anything.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    Andrew M,

    IIRC someone trIed something like that in the USA. 10% or so of tickets went to the official fan club with photo ID required to purchase and get in, the rest on the open market.

    Or maybe that was proposed by the likes of Freakonomics radio.

  4. I’ve never understood what the problem is with ticket touts. Provided the ticket is genuine, why should it not change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller at whatever price they agree?

  5. “I’ve never understood what the problem is with ticket touts. ”

    Mostly that the money goes to the tout and not the musicians, also that the tout is getting the tickets because he’s connected (you didn’t think he actually waited in line, did you?)

  6. Similar vein to Andrew M – it depends what the artist/band want to achieve with the audience. There’s the existing fans, then there’s the potential new fans. So, at least two tiers of pricing. Cheap for the undecided, those who just fancy a night out, more for the already committed, may be another for the ultra-dedicated.

    Football clubs used to this – the boys pen. Get ’em while they’re young. Don’t know if they still do it quite that way. Venues segregate by location, behind the goal, in the gods, etc. Football clubs now generally have season tickets, then various fan or membership levels, Gold, Silver, etc, where there is different pricing, and different ranking in the lottery.

    Don’t know whether The Cure really expect to gain a whole load of new fans after 40 odd years (I don’t believe they’ve been terribly active for the last twenty), but Mode continually add dates and venues after the initial rush, sometimes during the tour.

  7. Mostly that the money goes to the tout and not the musicians . . .

    Diddums. If the musicians are ideological idiots, they don’t deserve the money they could have made.

    . . . also that the tout is getting the tickets because he’s connected . . .

    The tout isn’t getting tickets for free so the “connection” is getting paid, and if it isn’t the band – idiots.

  8. AndrewM,

    “A good concert needs a balanced audience. If only middle-classes can afford tickets, the concert will lack energy. Ideally you want 95% of tickets sold at full price; but 5% of tickets subsidised for time-rich cash-poor fans.”

    By the time you’ve reached Ticketmaster levels, it’s already a middle class, ruined experience. Lots of rich, casual fans who film bits of the gig, talk all the time, don’t really care. You’re watching it on a screen. Having to arrive early, pay through the nose for drinks, spending hours getting out of a car park.

    I made an exception for Rammstein last year, but I did some stadium and festival gigs in the past and they put me off. I have more fun going to see B list acts in 2000 seater places like Bath Forum or Bristol Academy. Apart from being cheaper, you get a good crowd, you can eat in a nearby McDonalds, drink in a pub nearby until 5 minutes before, and when it’s over, you’re on a train in 15 minutes.

    I reckon the total cost of Rammstein for 2 of us was about £700. Babymetal at Cardiff Student’s Union was not even £200 for 3 of us.

  9. Also, haven’t people grown out of The Cure? Granted, there’s a few good singles, but it is music for kids who convinced their parents they should paint their bedroom black, wearing black clothes and black makeup. I just feel like there’s some arrested development going on.

    I listened to The Cure quite a lot as a teenager but I don’t think I ever listen to them now.

  10. Mostly that the money goes to the tout and not the musicians

    So what? Nothing stopping the musicians raising their prices to capture that money, should they choose to.

    , also that the tout is getting the tickets because he’s connected (you didn’t think he actually waited in line, did you?)

    So what? Unless he gets them for free, and if so wtf are the musicians complaining about? They could just stopping giving free tickets to the secondary market and sell them on the primary market instead.

  11. “Don’t know whether The Cure really expect to gain a whole load of new fans after 40 odd years (I don’t believe they’ve been terribly active for the last twenty), ”

    They just finished a European tour of 44 dates late last year, and they’ll be doing 30 dates in North America in mid 2023, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that morphs into a world tour later this year/early 2024. I saw them on their 2016 world tour, the last gig of the tour at Wembley Arena, probably the best gig I’ve ever been to. They probably played more songs in the encores (3 of them) than they did in the main gig. Some people left after the first encore and missed over an hour of the show. And I was never a Cure fan back in their heyday either.

  12. Also, haven’t people grown out of The Cure? Granted, there’s a few good singles, but it is music for kids who convinced their parents they should paint their bedroom black, wearing black clothes and black makeup. I just feel like there’s some arrested development going on.
    It’s the forever now of this ‘ere interweb thingy. When kids discover something, it’s new to them. Doesn’t matter if it’s 30 years old. Friend’s daughter’s a goth. Think she’s 15. She’s also mulata, so she can do black even better. Especially with blue hair. Or is it green this week.?

  13. When I lived in London i went to plenty of gigs and touts served a useful (to me) purpose of enabling spontaneity. Tickets are sold many months in advance, I didn’t know what I’d be doing next week let alone in October, and couldn’t afford to lay out the money that far in advance. Touts and gumtree etc gave me the option of mmm I want to go to that tomorrow. Was happy to pay a premium for the service.

  14. @BoM4,

    I’m surprised Babymetal are still playing SUs, would have thought they could fill bigger venues by now.

  15. I’ll be selling my Mum’s house for 10GZarbles. It’ll be bought be a developer, who’ll sell it on for 12GZarbles. Hey! Not fair! Pay me the 12GZarbles!

  16. Stan, Babymetal and the like are not *that* big in “the West”.
    Very fanatic fans, but spread all over the place. Makes sense for them to play smaller stages at more places.
    Smaller, cheaper set. Less overhead in crew. And with ticket prices relatively low, attracts many more people willing to try out what they’ve got to offer/what their insane friends are on about.

    It’s often a management choice. Every night a band is not playing it’s not earning money/promoting itself. And there’s plenty of middle-sized venues and Conventions that will say “yesplz!!” if a band is within “striking distance” of the hotel they’re staying at at the right time.

  17. I wanted to get Madonna tickets as a present for the wifey.
    When the London tickets went online I ended up in a queue with some 90,000+ people in front of me. In the end, I opted for tickets to see her in Belgium, which were noticeably cheaper too.
    I don’t go to many concerts but it seems that there are plenty of fans out there with serious money to burn. Most big name acts tend to charge hundreds now for decent tickets.
    How else are you to adjust supply and demand fairly without changing the price to suit? Whatever method you use to allocate tickets, there will always be winners and losers. What I wonder though is if the promoters are using underhand tactics to inflate prices – either by restricting ticket availability initially, thereby giving the impression of scarcity or by allowing ticket touts to use bots to block buy large numbers of tickets thereby pushing up prices up artificially?

  18. Ticketing is dominated by Ticket master who has the capital to fund events by buying the first batch of tickets. However there are startups challenging them.

    Tickets are a very interesting asset that change value over time, therefore there are many investment strategies and sales strategies. Blockchain technology (NFT) allows the secure transfer of digital tickets in the secondary market and denying resales is possible.

    If you are interested in this technology search ‘GET protocol’

  19. @rhoda klapp – “I’ve never understood what the problem is with ticket touts.”

    The problem is that not all value is money. Bands sell a ticket at $50 which is worth $100 on the open market, so touts will tend to capture the missing $50. But the bands are not stupid – it’s that they want fans who can only afford $50 to be in the audience. Maybe because these fans are younger (and so likely to buy more in future, compared to older audience members who have already bought everything), or more devoted to the band (and therefore likely to create a nicer atmosphere for performing), or other reasons.

    Think of it this way: would you be more likely to give $5 to a starving child whose life might be saved by it, to a friend who asked for help, or to a rich stranger who has a wallet full of cash? It’s exactly the same $5 to you, so if you have any preference between the alternatives, there must be some other non-monetary value that you are taking into account.

  20. “there must be some other non-monetary value”

    Cool. No damn reason why anyone else should take your preferences into account of course….

  21. @Tim – “No damn reason why anyone else should take your preferences into account of course”

    Only that of the person hading out the $5 – or, in the case in the news, the band whose tickets are on sale, as they can cancel the gig (or, more likely, attach conditions to future gigs) if they are sufficiently annoyed by how tickets are sold.

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