How Much Would You Pay For a Live Show?
Who Still Wants to Afford Big Live Shows?
The other day Elke and I discussed ticket prices and the fact that – to our recollection – we never paid more than about $79 for a show. The most expensive one was in the fall of 2001 when U2 played at Madison Square Garden. Our seats were behind the stage, which was open from all sides to see at least the musicians’ backs.
We haven’t been to a big arena show for a long time. Even when my favorite band of the 10s and 20s, Warpaint, opened for my favorite band of the 80s and 90s, Depeche Mode at Madison Square Garden and Barclay’s we passed. Paying through the nose to see the action from a far distance does not do the trick once you are used to the high energy of a small stage show.
And that was long before the latest surge in ticket prices. Recently Bruce Springsteen made the headlines for charging excessively for his upcoming tour. His longtime manager Jon Landau defends the prices with “we looked carefully at what our peers have been doing,” and that means charging on average in the mid $200. Too much for Springsteen’s average guy appeal concluded his 43-year-old fan club and closed its doors.
Bruce Springsteen might look enviously at Beyoncé, who doesn’t seem to have those problems. Her fans can’t wait to pay multiple hundreds of dollars for tickets and throw in even some long-haul flights if closer-by options are sold out. But Beyoncé can at least claim that her shows, which include an army of dancers and maybe even pyrotechnics, are expensive productions of a kind that nobody expects from the Boss.
Should musicians try to milk their fan’s desire to see them live as much as they can, or do they have an obligation to give back to their audience with affordable ticket prices? In Bruce Springsteen’s case, it is hard to argue that he needs the money after selling his catalog for half a billion. On the other hand, he is in his early 70s, and playing his famous three-hour-plus shows probably requires many personal sacrifices.
Ultimately, the market decides, and everybody has a choice to shell out the big bucks to see an old idol or to go to smaller shows for much less. If you don’t care for big production and stage shows, you can get a lot of joy out of live performances, regardless of size.
Song Picks of the Day
Listen/watch all seven songs on YouTube. Follow our daily updated playlists on YouTube and Spotify for the 50 latest Song Picks of the Day.
Danish singer/songwriter Johannes Brandstrup, aka your hands, tackles a big topic in his latest song, “down here waiting,” a song “about the youth and social life.” foil is the moniker of NYC singer, songwriter, and producer Helly Manson. “Twit” is the first single off her upcoming debut album, On The Wing, full of playful, experimental music. Next, London-based musician Léa Sen picks up where FKA twigs left the field of experimental pop in 2014. Daring and ambitious, her new song, “Dragonfly ʚĭɞ“ is a brilliant piece of music.
Richmond-via-Brooklyn singer/songwriter Sophie Colette slipped into the co-producer role for the four songs of her upcoming EP Kisses From Clay Street. The first single, “Don’t Worry,” is an uplifting track “to shake off negativity, and get myself out of bed to make that cup of coffee in the morning and get dressed.“ We don’t do many instrumentals in the Song Pick series, but “Laminar” by the South German trio Klangphonics is too good to pass on.
“Blue Lips” is a “uniquely Canadian story about a friends-with-benefits relationship.” The Edmonton, Alberta-based singer/songwriter Rebecca Lappa plays with winter imagery in the lyrics. In “the party,” vivi rincon meets someone special and muses about her next steps. The story has a happy ending as she reveals: “it was so cool going back to the beginning of my relationship and exploring the beauty of how it started.”
Albums of the Week
vivi rincon also released her debut EP, crash landing, which “explores the intricacies of a relationship” in a beautiful and engaging way. Long Daze Dark Nights is the new album by North Carolina musician Waldo Witt, which takes influences from psych rock of the 60s and 70s to 80s disco. German singer, songwriter, and producer MARIA Die RUHE goes all out in her fun, 15-song epic debut album Enarchy.
Other Notable Music
We mused the other day about the next album of the NYC reggae cover band Easy Star All-Stars, who have been covering iconic albums from The Beatles to Radiohead. We lost track a bit, but they have just released a new single, “Moonage Daydream,” from their next album Ziggy Stardub – get it? It’s a fun song, if not exactly glamglare material. The album will be released on April 21.
Nine Photos: A Rainbow of Food
More on Spices & Jars.