• August 24, 2011
    http://www.dead.net/features/blairs-blog/blair%E2%80%99s-golden-road-blog-ticket-bastards
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - Ticket Bastards

    Ticketmasters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped (ECW Press) is a fascinating and informative book that explains in exhaustive detail how the concert business — and particularly the ticketing side of it — got to its current infuriating state. Is there anybody out there who doesn’t hate ticket companies (Ticketmaster — or “Ticketbastard,” as folks have been calling it for years — being the prime offender), who doesn’t feel cheated and debased every time you buy a ticket? Service fees, facility fees, processing fees, print-at-home fees, hidden parking fees… Suddenly what looked like a bargain ticket for $25 can cost up to 40 bucks! And that’s a cheap show! It’s all spiraled completely out of control over the past couple of decades, and as mere consumers—the people supporting the acts we want to see—we are seemingly powerless to do anything about it. And, of course, the deeper you go you learn it isn’t just the ticketing companies—it’s the promoters, facilities, management companies and bands, too!

    Clearly and engagingly written by Relix magazine executive editor Dean Budnick and editor-in-chief Josh Baron, Ticketmasters traces the history of modern ticketing from its humble mid-’60s origins with TRS (Ticket Reservation Systems) and its pioneering work selling tickets for Broadway shows at stores equipped with clunky computer terminals, through the rise of various powerful (and now long gone) regional companies, the first real giant, Ticketron, that company’s long war with onetime upstart (and now despotic king) Ticketmaster, and how changes in the concert production landscape affected ticket prices. Promoters cut deals with the ticket companies, venues cut deals with the ticket companies, bands wanted larger guarantees, big companies gobbled up smaller companies and fashioned exclusivity deals to crush their competition …the deals go on and on, layer upon layer, but it always ends up with higher prices for the fans.

    The saga of the ascendancy of Robert F.X. Sillerman and his SFX Entertainment empire—which begat Clear Channel and then Live Nation, now merged with Ticketmaster—is a truly disturbing tale of corporate greed run amok; a modern-day de facto monopoly (venues! tickets! merch!) that has irrevocably altered the face of the touring industry, and not in a good way. (OK, so the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger has so far survived antitrust investigations. It still feels wrong, and it puts too much power in the hands of too few. Of course, that’s the way this misguided country is headed in general.)

    It’s an extremely complex story—a web of intrigue, back-biting, occasional good intentions, back-room deals and some out-and-out deceit. The authors take us into secret high-level meetings where deals were brokered, congressional hearings where our legislators preened and lectured and then usually decided nothing, and they methodically show us how the whole scandalous story evolved. Budnick and Baron are careful to let all the players speak their minds and tell their side of each story, and the writers generally steer clear of making critical judgments about the various episodes they recount. They were our eyes and ears as the story unfolds —always seeking to uncover more information about the inner workings of the maddening and mysterious industry. There might be more detail in this book than some people need, but I found it quite gripping and not without humor—after all, with all these blustering, over-amped, type-A personalities battling each other, there’s going to be a certain level of pathetic buffoonery.

    Budnick and Baron are both fans of the Grateful Dead, and they devote a marvelous chapter to the Dead’s long history handling much of their own ticketing. Titled “A Bunch of Wooly Freaks,” after Bob Weir’s description of the good hippies over at GDTS (Grateful Dead Ticket Sales), the chapter describes how the organization grew to be so efficient yet stay so humane, the actual mechanics of the operation, some of the colorful folks who populated the staff (lots of Dead “family”), and their own giant battle with Ticketmaster, which was upset that the Dead routinely asked for and got 50 percent of the tickets for their gigs to sell themselves. Ticketmaster said this violated contracts they had with certain facilities and promoters (true) and that it would set a terrible precedent if allowed to continue. But in the end, after a heated meeting dominated by Ticketmaster’s Evil Emperor, Fred Rosen, and the Dead’s sharp legal eagle, Hal Kant, the Dead emerged mostly victorious — they did agree to allow Ticketmaster to maintain a larger percentage of tickets for stadium and amphitheater shows, but held onto their 50 percent for the other concerts. Yay!

    The “Dead exception” that Ticketmaster agreed to (in part because the Dead were such a reliable and successful client year after year), led to other imbroglios. In 1995, Pearl Jam, who a year earlier had been unsuccessful negotiating with Ticketmaster for more fan-friendly ticketing, decided to try to mount their own tour completely outside of venues that had deals with Ticketmaster (i.e., most of the big ones). The band patched together an odd schedule of motley venues, but eventually it unraveled mid-tour. Publicly the band laid most of the blame on the difficulties of working outside the system, but Budnick and Baron reveal that the main problem with the tour stemmed from Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder’s complex physical and emotional issues, and were only partially related to the group's public battle with Ticketmaster. Still, the Pearl Jam fight is part of what led to the first congressional hearings on Ticketmaster’s alleged monopoly over ticketing, and it is an instructive cautionary tale of what usually happens when David battles Goliath. Another episode, involving String Cheese Incident, turns out much better.

    The book deals in depth with the issue of fan club ticket allotments, the rise of VIP ticket packages and the battle against scalpers—and the disgraceful legal scalping that is epidemic now through numerous resale websites, including Ticketmaster’s own! It ends darkly by touching on the latest threat to low ticket costs: so-called “dynamic pricing.” This scam has already burned me a few times in my attempts to buy tickets for San Francisco Giants games: Prices (usually) rise as game day approaches, to the point where I paid $31 for standing room at one game, through the team’s site, not Stubhub or other scalp sites. Two years ago, a standing room ticket was $11 and remained at that price until game time.

    Don’t get me started! I’ve got a lifetime of good and bad ticket experiences behind me, and I’ll get into a few of those next week. For now, though, if you have any tales you’d like tell about tix, the floor is officially open…

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Ticketmasters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped (ECW Press) is a fascinating and informative book that explains in exhaustive detail how the concert business — and particularly the ticketing side of it — got to its current infuriating state. Is there anybody out there who doesn’t hate ticket companies (Ticketmaster — or “Ticketbastard,” as folks have been calling it for years — being the prime offender), who doesn’t feel cheated and debased every time you buy a ticket? Service fees, facility fees, processing fees, print-at-home fees, hidden parking fees… Suddenly what looked like a bargain ticket for $25 can cost up to 40 bucks! And that’s a cheap show! It’s all spiraled completely out of control over the past couple of decades, and as mere consumers—the people supporting the acts we want to see—we are seemingly powerless to do anything about it. And, of course, the deeper you go you learn it isn’t just the ticketing companies—it’s the promoters, facilities, management companies and bands, too!

Clearly and engagingly written by Relix magazine executive editor Dean Budnick and editor-in-chief Josh Baron, Ticketmasters traces the history of modern ticketing from its humble mid-’60s origins with TRS (Ticket Reservation Systems) and its pioneering work selling tickets for Broadway shows at stores equipped with clunky computer terminals, through the rise of various powerful (and now long gone) regional companies, the first real giant, Ticketron, that company’s long war with onetime upstart (and now despotic king) Ticketmaster, and how changes in the concert production landscape affected ticket prices. Promoters cut deals with the ticket companies, venues cut deals with the ticket companies, bands wanted larger guarantees, big companies gobbled up smaller companies and fashioned exclusivity deals to crush their competition …the deals go on and on, layer upon layer, but it always ends up with higher prices for the fans.

The saga of the ascendancy of Robert F.X. Sillerman and his SFX Entertainment empire—which begat Clear Channel and then Live Nation, now merged with Ticketmaster—is a truly disturbing tale of corporate greed run amok; a modern-day de facto monopoly (venues! tickets! merch!) that has irrevocably altered the face of the touring industry, and not in a good way. (OK, so the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger has so far survived antitrust investigations. It still feels wrong, and it puts too much power in the hands of too few. Of course, that’s the way this misguided country is headed in general.)

It’s an extremely complex story—a web of intrigue, back-biting, occasional good intentions, back-room deals and some out-and-out deceit. The authors take us into secret high-level meetings where deals were brokered, congressional hearings where our legislators preened and lectured and then usually decided nothing, and they methodically show us how the whole scandalous story evolved. Budnick and Baron are careful to let all the players speak their minds and tell their side of each story, and the writers generally steer clear of making critical judgments about the various episodes they recount. They were our eyes and ears as the story unfolds —always seeking to uncover more information about the inner workings of the maddening and mysterious industry. There might be more detail in this book than some people need, but I found it quite gripping and not without humor—after all, with all these blustering, over-amped, type-A personalities battling each other, there’s going to be a certain level of pathetic buffoonery.

Budnick and Baron are both fans of the Grateful Dead, and they devote a marvelous chapter to the Dead’s long history handling much of their own ticketing. Titled “A Bunch of Wooly Freaks,” after Bob Weir’s description of the good hippies over at GDTS (Grateful Dead Ticket Sales), the chapter describes how the organization grew to be so efficient yet stay so humane, the actual mechanics of the operation, some of the colorful folks who populated the staff (lots of Dead “family”), and their own giant battle with Ticketmaster, which was upset that the Dead routinely asked for and got 50 percent of the tickets for their gigs to sell themselves. Ticketmaster said this violated contracts they had with certain facilities and promoters (true) and that it would set a terrible precedent if allowed to continue. But in the end, after a heated meeting dominated by Ticketmaster’s Evil Emperor, Fred Rosen, and the Dead’s sharp legal eagle, Hal Kant, the Dead emerged mostly victorious — they did agree to allow Ticketmaster to maintain a larger percentage of tickets for stadium and amphitheater shows, but held onto their 50 percent for the other concerts. Yay!

The “Dead exception” that Ticketmaster agreed to (in part because the Dead were such a reliable and successful client year after year), led to other imbroglios. In 1995, Pearl Jam, who a year earlier had been unsuccessful negotiating with Ticketmaster for more fan-friendly ticketing, decided to try to mount their own tour completely outside of venues that had deals with Ticketmaster (i.e., most of the big ones). The band patched together an odd schedule of motley venues, but eventually it unraveled mid-tour. Publicly the band laid most of the blame on the difficulties of working outside the system, but Budnick and Baron reveal that the main problem with the tour stemmed from Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder’s complex physical and emotional issues, and were only partially related to the group's public battle with Ticketmaster. Still, the Pearl Jam fight is part of what led to the first congressional hearings on Ticketmaster’s alleged monopoly over ticketing, and it is an instructive cautionary tale of what usually happens when David battles Goliath. Another episode, involving String Cheese Incident, turns out much better.

The book deals in depth with the issue of fan club ticket allotments, the rise of VIP ticket packages and the battle against scalpers—and the disgraceful legal scalping that is epidemic now through numerous resale websites, including Ticketmaster’s own! It ends darkly by touching on the latest threat to low ticket costs: so-called “dynamic pricing.” This scam has already burned me a few times in my attempts to buy tickets for San Francisco Giants games: Prices (usually) rise as game day approaches, to the point where I paid $31 for standing room at one game, through the team’s site, not Stubhub or other scalp sites. Two years ago, a standing room ticket was $11 and remained at that price until game time.

Don’t get me started! I’ve got a lifetime of good and bad ticket experiences behind me, and I’ll get into a few of those next week. For now, though, if you have any tales you’d like tell about tix, the floor is officially open…

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Tickemasters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped (ECW Press) is a fascinating and informative book that explains in exhaustive detail how the concert business — and particularly the ticketing side of it — got to its current infuriating state. Is there anybody out there who doesn’t hate ticket companies (Ticketmaster — or “Ticketbastard,” as folks have been calling it for years — being the prime offender), who doesn’t feel cheated and debased every time you buy a ticket?

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the only way to fight them is to not buy tickets. the wallet talks, and nothing else. ask yourself if the the performer is worth supporting a monopoly in order to go to a show. Or, just keep in mind to add 25% to whatever ticket price there is. in any case, give 8/10/82 a listen. :)))))))))))))))) hhhhooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooottttttttttttttttttttt!!!!!
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One the great things I remember (and share stories) about Dead shows was getting tickets. The vibes were so great - if you NEEDED a ticket - one would show uo for you.
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i read bout this a while back, but thanks for a lil more insight than what i read a while back. im curious about the String Cheese episode that turns out better, sorta left us hangin on that. GDTS practically charges the same prices if not more than ticketmaster, not to mention all the issues lately with it where you dont even know if you'll get a ticket til they are sold out so if u choose to go with GDTS theres a chance you'll get shut out completely for tryin to buy from them. your article makes it sound like the band/fan based ticketing is the way to go, well i dont see it that way, all ticketing is messed up in one way or another, sad to say but its true. doesnt stop me from spending every extra dollar i got seein as many shows as i can, is there any hope of ticketmaster and such crap changing?
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I'm not a U2 fan, but I have some friends that love them and follow them like I used to follow the Dead. They rarely missed a show. As a gift, I bought them tickets to see a pair of shows in Worcester, Mass. Now we all lived in Los Angeles at the time. I bought the tix, Ticketmaster charged my card, my friends bought their plane tix... But the concert tix didn't show up in the mail. It's about a month before the show and I call Ticketmaster and they claim that I can't have the tix cause I'm out of state. When I challenge that, they tell me it's a rule of U2's. So I make some calls and manage to get to someone in charge of all things U2 and they promise me that U2 has made no such request and that it's all Ticketmaster. I call Ticketmaster back and the woman I speak with relents. I tell her it was a birthday present for friends, they already have plane tickets... She says if I fax her the plane tickets, she'll sell me the U2 tickets. Remember, they've already charged my credit card! Though they claimed they were going to reverse the charges. I fax them the plane tickets and... No response. I call, they put me on hold. Forever. Again and again. I finally get through to the woman and ask her if she is directly ignoring me. She says "Yes." Since that day, I have never bought any tickets through Ticketmaster. I have never been mistreated to that extent by any company (and believe me, I've had my share). My friends flew to the east coast, tried to scalp tickets, didn't get in. Luckily, they caught other shows on the tour, but like we all know, that doesn't change missing the shows you did miss. It's painful. They did reimburse my card for the charges however. Little consolation for the frustration and stress it caused everyone involved. A nasty piece of work, Ticketmaster. This was a number of years ago and things have only gotten worse.
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Oh how I loved to get my SASE in the mail and feel the tickets in the bottom left hand corner of the envelope before I opened it. One thing that was nice too, is they would give you a ticket for another night of the run if your requested night was out. I can't tell you how many times those extras got me into another show later on the tour. I never got shut out on a mail order, there was a post office in my home town with a 6:00am pick up, so my postmark was always in the initial onslaught. Peace everyone! Oh, and I remember seeing U2 in Madison in 1992 for $35.00. I waited in line the old fashioned way! How I miss that. How has scalping become legalized? I HATE this. The good tickets are gone before anyone not making $75,000 a year or more has a chance. NFL sanctions scalping, MLB sanctions scalping, the jerks at Stub Hub. Darn it, now I'm mad. Were is my time machine so I can go back to 1970 and wait in line for some Fillmore tickets?
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Isn't funny how one of the Dead's biggest supporters Bill Graham started this whole mess, I mean Ticketmaster was pretty much his baby right?
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a time to unravel, reduce and redirect.too much time and money spent on fighting and talk. a major change is needed. why not labels, management and like-minded musical travelers pool their finance and resources and rent/purchase bars, clubs, theatres and land and operate their own system? bypass the current option and reinvent; ignore ticketmaster and forge ahead a new plan of presentation. maybe shows will not be on the same scale but do we really need that scale anymore? is it necessary for the music to penetrate and alter consciousness? to effect our lives in profound ways; to induce epiphanies and let us transcend. i don't recall John Coltrane or Alla Rakha needing computerised lights or velvet-lined balconies to irrevocably alter our Souls and move the human race ahead a step; Gyuto Monks, Son House, Yabby You, Sun Ra, Olivier Messiaen, Boredoms, Taj Mahal Travellers, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Doc Watson, Nick Drake, Albert Ayler, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Fela Kuti, early Detroit Techno, early Psy-Trance; none needed anything but a space, any space to play and fellow cosmo-nauts to merge Minds and link become One for a duration. I don't remember the Grateful Dead at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds requiring anything more than scaffolding, wood and a power supply to bring us Truth. John Butcher and Akio Suzuki engaging with the acoustical properties of caves in Scotland offering more meaning than the vast quantities of bands on any circuit you care to mention. create our own spaces, our own ticketing practices; slide right outside the established patterns and forge new alliances and relationships. scale it down a bit. think about what's important. many links are already in place. promoters, managers, artists, writers and music lovers. leave those other venues to the vacuous and the greedy who play for profit not transcendence. Major labels ruled the roost until people with vision followed through; we started our own labels. we chuckled at the major's monopoly and downloaded (always respect the artist of course). maybe through such a collective, a space for live performance could be bought and shared in cities in each state. shake your heads, laugh, walk around and continue on a different path. then watch them bitch and whine.
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just buying the hard-to-get venues on this upcoming furthur tour has me pissed. I'm only buying those tickets for shows I feel may have the chance to sell out. the rest I'll buy day of the event to avoid service, convenience & electronic delivery fees. MF Bastards! Fight the power!
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is it worth it, all things considered.
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Are the true evil. That's where the scalpers live. That's where scalping has become legalized. TM sucks (people say) because they charge a fee. I don't like paying more $ then I have to but every outlet charges their own fee and I will say this that TM knows how to sell tickets. They have the bandwith to handle literally 10s of 1000s of people at once. Too many times I have been on low rate outlets where their servers crash and you lose out on tix altogether. Come on you know what I mean - did you try buying tix for The Dead in 2009 form Music Today? Don't you remember that fiasco? TM would not have crashed like that. Obviously walking down to the venue and buying tix with no fees is ideal but I'd rather purchase them from my living room. I am not defending their fees but they do their job well - which is sell tickets. "I won't take your life won't even take a limb just unload my shotgun and take a little skin"
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My first experience with tickertron was back in 1978 for the spectrum shows that May.A bunch of us waited outside all night in front of this walk-up window. When they finally opened that morning I was the first in line. I then watched the guy behind the glass print out hundreds of tickets and stuff them into a bunch of envelopes for at least 30 minutes. I finally got tickets that were upper level as far from the stage as possible. I did'nt buy tickets again from an outlet until1999 for the Dylan w/ Phil and friends at the Meadowlands where I actually got to the record store right at opening time, walked in and scored VIP general admission tix that put me front row center for the show. My last concert. Dylan was absolutely incredible that night. He did at least four encores. Look up the set list I beleive it was Nov. 13, 1999.
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gained by queuing all night on the pavement outside the Hammersmith Odeon (London), on a very cold February night back in 1972. Rewarded by centre stage tickets 3d row. No processing charge, just good old first come first served. Can't recall how much it was now - £5? £7 maybe. Happy daze
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Bill Graham had nothing to do with starting Ticketmaster. He can be accused of many things (though I remain one of his biggest fans) but Ticketmaster is not one of them...
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remember the good old days? SASE in the mail for stanford and the greek. the ticket trip was ritual, followed by the rite of walking into those cool venues. those days are gone.
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those days are still there! just in the memory, that's all. and we all know how important that can be. inhalation and pass it on. wistful but burning bright. a paper pass to enlightenment!
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But I agree with Jackstraw...they know how to sell tickets. I do not miss: 1) Standing in line. For hours, freezing my tookus off, only to come up empty. There was a Springsteen show where they announced the on-sale time about an hour before to prevent the "camping out" crowd. I was in my car when the announcement was made, drove directly to the outlet, about 20 mi away. 30F and howling wind, I was dressed for getting in and out of my car, not for queueing up for 2 hrs in the weather. I got to the point that I was just hoping to make it inside to warm up, tickets or no. Tickets no, made to within about 20 feet of the door. 2) Standing in line with the lottery. Again, to break the "camping out" crowd. You stand in line and then someone draws a number and THAT becomes the beginning of the line. I once had the person directly in back of me become the first person in line. That made me the last. No tickets. 3) Hitting "redial" over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and so on. Maybe tix, maybe not. 4) Online sales through dial-up connections. One time I got in right away for a stadium show, a 2-night stand, got very decent field seats for night 1, pushed the "buy" button...and waited and waited and the transaction timed out. My cc number was already on file, so they had my money, I said "yes" to seats. Back to the end of the line, like the Ticket Nazi saying "No tickets for YOU!" I ended up with night 2 tickets, last row in the stadium. The video screens were a godsend, but we were so far away that the sound didn't sync with the screens, looked like a badly dubbed movie. Fortunately, I get to more theatre shows than large venues, and a lot of them use independent ticket agencies for their sales, and they tend to work out quite well...thus avoiding them bastids and seeing some pared-down fees. For the big places, the TM system works very well. The charges are higher than the face price of tickets used to be (another story entirely, I know). Would I pay that much for the service of avoiding some of my bad ticket experiences of the past? Well, obviously I am, but it isn't exactly what I'm thinking about when I'm looking at the screen screaming, "HOW much???" I was perplexed a few weeks ago when Furthur changed venues from the Walnut Creek Pavilion to much smaller downtown Raleigh Pavilion. Not only did my seats move up 12 rows, I got a refund of $6 on my cc. Couldn't figure out why for a while, then driving to the show I realized...the first venue had "free" parking, the second had no parking. So I got my parking money back, at least, and spent $5 to park. With that extra $1 I was able to buy 10% of a beer...
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Out on the road to West Marin... That is the company Bill Graham was affiliated with. I am looking at a Cal Expo ticket stub from 1989 with a $2.50 service charge.
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...tickets for Jackie Greene at the Fillmore this morning from TM: Face value: $25.50. "Convenience" Charges: $12.50, about half as much as the ticket! Ridiculous!
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This sounds like an interesting read, Blair. I didn't even know this book was out there. Personally, I try to avoid TM as much as possible, but sometimes using their services is unavoidable. As others point out, the fees are terrible, but they do their job well overall. I was wondering about that new system of "dynamic" pricing. Sounds like a terrible deal unless a team is doing poorly and need to give tickets away. I had varying degrees of success with ticket purchasing from Ticketron/Ticketmaster outlets in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a Wisconsinite, Alpine was my favorite venue, but I never, ever could score tickets in the pavillion. Two times I was second in line (both times ran into an old buddy, too) and could only get lawn tickets to Clapton (1988) and the Dead (1989). Will say this, at least I got all three nights to Alpine 89. Lawn was better than nothing obviously. Tickets at that time, I believe were $16.50! Success stories also-- second in line got me 10th row Clapton in 1993 and I even did well with a lottery for Dylan tickets in 1999. That lottery for Dylan was interesting-- I was first in line for the lottery and the guy behind me is the lucky one. He went first and the rest let me be 2nd-- they deemed it wasn't quite fair to send me to the back of the line. Got me 2nd row for an excellent show (he had an amazing band at that time, still does).
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Always seemed to be my sister-in-law's successes. She'd go to the ticket outlet in Bangor, ME to buy tickets for Boston-area shows. First in line, usually the only person in line. That worked out quite well, many excellent seats, while it lasted. That particular Filene's was getting shaky towards the end, though. The tickets their machine printed kept getting fainter and harder and harder to read (time to replace the ink, maybe? C'mon!). There was one set that was so hard to read that I was not entirely sure of what our seat numbers were. I was sweating it that we wouldn't get in the door. Fortunately, that was well before bar code scanners were used, and we talked our way in...
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I've purchased hundreds of tickets over the last 30 years, the vast majority through TM. I have to admit I am always relieved to hear that TM is handling the ticketing. I can't think of one mishap from TM in all that time, and plenty of problems I've had with the other options. They charge a little more, but not too much more, in my experience. It's worth it to me for the piece of mind. I hate the idea of patronizing huge mega-corporations, but, hey, sometimes they do a good job- so do Wendy's, Motel 6, etc, etc....it's a dilemma
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about how we used to spend the nights on the sidewalk outside of BASS in downtown Oakland in the depth of winter in the days before GDTS. Probably for Oakland Aud tickets before it was Henry J, or maybe the first Frost? Camping, Deadhead style. I came to it fairly late, but it was pretty clear there were people who had been doing this for years, and I bet they were even happier than I was not to have to freeze all the time. Though I also seem to recall that we had it organized in shifts, and that people would periodically show up with provisions and encouragement.
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Too funny GDean! No tickets for you, but plenty for the scalpers. In '91 I met up with people paid by the scalpers to wait in line -- paid well!!
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Intersperse the hired hands through the line to increase the odds of getting near the front. I did that with a group of friends once, and spread across 2 or 3 outlets, worked out pretty well, actually.
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A point for Blair, the name of the organization was Grateful Dead Ticket Sales NOT Service! For some reason Dean changed the name in his book...(and you, Blair, of all people should know this!) @ Grateful_Deadhead, you must be talking about GDTSTOO, not GDTS because when GDTS was in operation (1983-1995) our top service charge was $2.50 a ticket plus the post office fee for a money order which was $1.00. At that point the Ticketmaster charge was at least $3.50 per ticket plus a per order charge over the phone which was more than GDTS...Also with GDTS 99% of the time your tickets or unfilled order came back BEFORE the outlet onsale date. To all of you who did use Grateful Dead Ticket Sales, thank you very much and Stay in touch! Steven Marcus, manager GDTS 1983-1996, voice of the mail order hotline (1988-1998) voice of the official Grateful Dead hotlines (1991-1998)
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Also, Bill Graham had nothing to do with Ticketmaster. His only official connection with BASS was that he committed to using them for every show and in many cases exclusively.He really disliked Ticketron (not Ticketmaster) that much. Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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I thought it was "Sales" but presumed the authors had gotten it right! Oh, well. Steve, I thought you came off very well in the book. As did all the Dead folks...

 I've fixed it now...

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Okay here is a question that has nothing to do with Ticketmaster...My credit card has been charged for the boxed sets, when shall I expect them?Steven Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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a great piece written by musician, historian, journalist Bob Ostertag; one of my favourite artists. about the web's influence on our understanding of music. similar parallels can be drawn, i feel, regarding the need to reassess live performance and it's future presentation; ticketmasturbator should become unnecessary. and more fool anyone who pays nearly $40.00 for a Jackie Greene ticket; more money than sense. the economic crisis as mental virus rather than wallet depleter.
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I pay to see Jackie Greene because I like his music a whole lot I and want to support his art. He does not sell many albums (almost no one does anymore) so performing live is how he survives. I will pay a Ticketmaster fee because I want to see him at the Fillmore, which has a deal with Ticketmaster, and is a great place to see anyone. I could zip across the Bay Bridge and buy tickets at the Fillmore box office and save some (not all) charges, but between time getting over there, gas and toll, I wouldn't save much, and buying online, odious tough it may be, leaves a smaller carbon footprint than me driving to SF.

 

I'm not going to punish myself by not going. But I am more seelctive about what I go to, certainly.

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48 years 11 months
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fair enough.but to me it can seem like the when the music business whined about people downloading for free after having spent years and vast sums of money on "product" and throwaway garbage; they actively encouraged a whole generation to treat music as something disposable and then wondered why they failed to purchase something that was going to be discarded in a month's time. the fact that some people are willing to spend nearly $40.00 on an evening of banality; the equivalent of a hollow beard with a guitar that would barely be adequate for an open mic night in a backwoods bar is what keeps Ticketmaster in a position to fleece the general public. for $10.00 more i was able to get good tickets to see Terry Gilliam's staging of Hector Berlioz's "The Damnation Of Faust" at the English National Opera. now before you get too pissed off, my above comments are a little tongue in cheek; one man's poison etc. i don't really have anything against Jackie Greene but he is a tad dull for my ears. but i think that by paying that kind of money for such an artist; i mean, 40 DOLLARS!!! that's outrageous to me!! god alone knows what a band like Phish or Widespread Panic charges for an arena show. for two or three tickets worth and you could get a plane ticket to another country and learn something, ya know? i think it goes to show just how far we've come in our understanding and consumption of music. that tossing away such amounts for relatively little is commonplace and accepted as part of the deal. the very basics. i do totally understand your point about making a living from live performance; but maybe some of these people should work other jobs. who said that every muppet with a guitar and some songs should be able to live off their output? is that what it's all about now? i remember reading that the drummer Susie Ibarra worked for a long time as a florist while recording and gigging. this is someone who puts a lot back into her community, doing workshops for children and has played with some of jazz giants; William Parker, Matthew Shipp, David S. Ware etc. and that's just one example. there are a huge number of truly original artists that cannot afford to make a living from music; artists that have changed the musical landscape forever. now i certainly don't begrudge anyone who can of course; absolutely good luck to them, truly. they are very lucky. but it shouldn't be some kind of god given right. as i've mentioned before, the world is changing rapidly and a new way to present live music is needed. ticketmaster and other organisations exist because some with more money than sense are willing to fling money in their direction without thinking of the consequences. and i'm not some militant, vegan, corporate bashing, do-gooder who calls for revolution; but facts are facts. for any regular artist to have tickets to their shows costing that amount is borderline obscene. out of their hand probably i'm sure but still. if we told our grandparents and earlier generations that we spent that amount of money on an average performer they'd be mortified and rightly so. and that's just concerning ticket prices never mind that carbon footprint you speak of. (i wouldn't stress over driving your car across the bay when big shows are dominated by excessive lights, power supply, food vendors and merchandise stalls). please read that Bob Ostertag link i posted; on a different subject but i feel there are parallels there; the music market has changed and so should live performance.
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...there are a few grains of reason amid the torrent of self-righteous condescension, Jonapi... I'm afraid you and I will never see eye to eye on what good music is... opera...obscure jazz.... puh-leeze. I'll take the bearded guy with a guitar any day...
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self-righteous condescension? what on earth are talking about my dear fellow? if you can point out to me where that is i'll be happy to clarify my position for you. i'm guessing you don't make a living from your writing then......!!! tee hee!!and i'm not asking you to see eye to eye about music; although extremely worrying that you wrote "good music...opera..."obscure" jazz...puh-leeze". opera and jazz not good music eh? jesus christ.... (nothing obscure about those artists by the way; well known in music circles. while you're sucking up to Dead members and their record collection, remember that another world exists out there). i do recall that you commented on one of my earlier posts regarding free jazz where you said you weren't a fan, does nothing for you, which is perfectly fair enough; something along the lines of "even Ornette Coleman is borderline for me..". considering that Ornette's body of work contains some of the most coruscating, abstract, sheet-of-noise music out there, you wouldn't just happen to dig him because Jerry played on an album would ya? it's okay to like something not connected to the Dead you know. "opera..jazz...puh-leeze" ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!! cheer up man, it's Friday. have a good one Blair.... enjoy the Greenester with a complimentary $6.00 budweiser.
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I don't really care for Jerry with Ornette, either. ;-)
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9 years 11 months
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Sorry, jonapi, gotta agree with Blair on this-- plenty of self-righteous condescension in your posts. Your posts frequently name-drop numerous obscure jazz or folk artists-- yes, they are obscure. What reason is there to name drop these obscure artists? I have interpreted over time that it represents a holier-than-thou attitude re: having a more open mind than the rest of us, which reeks of condescension. We all have varied musical interests, but this is a Dead blog, so most of us stay with the main thread here-- the Grateful Dead. And Blair is also correct, there is usually a kernel of truth in your rants. While you may enjoy "The Damnation of Faust," others may enjoy Jackie Greene. As you point out, everybody picks their poison, yet you criticize how other people choose to spend their money. Others may think you are crazy to spend so much money to travel to England to see the opera or, if already there, to spend so much $ on that. I have been to the opera on several occasions and found it an enjoyable evening, but I wouldn't trade it for a good rock and roll show anyday. Choice between Furthur and "Magic Flute" and Furthur wins every time. Re: Ornette Coleman, he grates on my ears. I bought his breakthrough cd (name anyone?) several years ago, started playing it once and got through maybe 15 minutes before it had to go. Haven't played it since. But this is way off topic. Boy, do I hate Ticketmaster and their high charges. :)
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48 years 11 months
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Both Jonapi and Mr..Blair bring certain things to the table. And each has cojones.
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11 years 3 months
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that is too funny.......& to quote Blair's article "after Bob Weir’s description of the good hippies over at GDTS" thank God, I was one of them.....being the only cowgirl of course......:)))

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Gotta say, I'd trade the incredible convenience of online presales in a heartbeat to return to the days of parking lot camping for tickets. Then, at least, the most dedicated fans got the best seats. And that was fair. At some point, ticket sellers switched to lotteries, no matter who was first in line.....and that was the beginning of the end. Then one year (I wanna say '92 or '93) Rod Stewart brought his show to town and ~ WHAT'S THIS? ~ charged tiered pricing: more money for the good seats. Completely preposterous. UNHEARD OF for a rock show. A year later, half the rock acts were doing it, and all these years later it's long since been the norm. Hats off to Tom Petty (whose music doesn't move me much personally) for refusing this policy last time he came to the Rose Garden in Portland. He said he wanted his fans to have the first five rows, not corporations. Hear hear! Another GREAT benefit of online ticketing, though ~ there's a record of your purchase, and it can be replaced. A few years ago, a phone service man stole my pair of Who tickets out of my bedroom drawer. A quick call to customer service, and those were deactivated and new ones sent to me. Never could've happened 20 years ago. Would love to have seen that guy's face when he was turned away at the door ; )

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I got to see Ornette Coleman play a couple years ago. One of the most face-melting performances I'll ever see. My friends and I are still trying to make sense of what we witnessed. Incredible.
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...is nothing new. At my first-ever concert--The Doors at Madison Square Garden in the winter of 1969--top ticket was $6.50 for the closest seats (a lot for the time) and I was in $6.00 seats a little futher back. I think it was $5.00 up in the boonies...Tom Petty (who I do love) charged over $100 for most seats on his last trek through here; not exactly the people's friend these days...
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11 years 5 months
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Even before the extras added by the various agents tickets for major acts are absurdly high.Most bands used to tour at a loss (subsidised by record companies) to promote albums. (Two of the few major bands that actually lived off touring were Zappa and of course the GOGD). It seems that many veteran acts are now being forced out on to the road because they no longer make enough from their back catalogues and indifferent new releases to maintain their lifestyles. File sharing/piracy is, I suspect, a major reason for this. So you get the music for free and pay crazy money for one last chance to see your favourite acts live.. $100 for Tom Petty..crazy. Van Morrison's latest UK tour costs £100 for a front row seat ($160)!!. And I just saw that Glen Campbell is touring the UK even though he has moderate Alzheimer's. Brave or desperate?
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I was just checking out prices for Todd Snider at a local, recently re-opened club (yay, Ziggy's!): $20; or $50 for "Gold Circle" tickets. In a club? $30 extra for a private bathroom and a clear shot to the bar? For Todd Snider (and I love Todd Snider!)?? Uh, no thanks. It'll be interesting to see how large this area is (supposed to be 100 tickets, but what if they only sell 25?) and how many tix get sold...
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10 years 2 months
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What a ripoff, I wouldn't pay 50 to 100 bucks to see anybody, period. Just saw DSO last month and it was 25, no parking fees, no other fees, and they played for 3 and a half hours.What really gets me is how much of that does the artist get? with fees for this and that and venues cut and promoter cut, sure doesn't sound like the artist gets much. Yet just yesterday SCI sold out in 20 mins, how can one afford to go to shows with cost that high? The days of catching a fall or spring tour (every show) are long gone, unless, you're a millionaire. I think it should all go back to the old days, let the band print up their own tickets, sell them at the door or online through the bands web site, printable versions, or just take cash at the door and stamp everyone's hand, therefore no ticket needed at all, first come, first serve, no more than 1 ticket per purchase, make it so if you want to see the show, you've got to show up to buy your ticket, presales yes but only a month or so before the show, not three months or more and then, only one at a time, make it hard for a scalper to get more than one ticket.. Obviously there is a huge demand for live entertainment and as long as the demand is there, the sky's the limit for price. I'm not advocating boycott of acts/bands, but how much is too much? 50 to 100 is too much for me. Thank the stars for file sharing and etree etc... Saw Led Zepplin in 73 for 6 bucks, Pink Floyd the same year for the same, 6 bucks. So, do the math, that means that the concert goer's buck in 73 is now worth a dime in 11, man, talk about inflation.
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9 years 11 months
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Interesting comments on how to get tickets unkle sam. If only the world could make it happen. I think it would be amazing to see artists and venues take control and sell tickets via their websites rather than relying on promotors/agents/ticket agencies. We all write about how much we paid for a ticket in certain year, so I thought about inflation and how it jives with ticket prices today. Using an inflation calculator on the web and to use your example of the Led Zeppelin tickets at $6 in 1973, those tickets should cost $30 today. What would be a comparable band in terms of career track to LZ ca. 1973? And how much are tickets to see that band today-- likely much higher than $30 and probably in the $75-100 range. As a society, we have put a premium on entertainment at the expense of taking care of more important responsibilities, so ticket prices for most events have gone through the roof. I'll keep from getting political on here, but sometimes I think our national and personal priorities are a bit out of whack.
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8 years 6 months
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The first rock concert I went to was The Beatles in 1964 ticket prices were "tiered" with the top price $6.00(I think). Same with Rolling Stones in 1966, Dave Clark Five in 1965. In fact ALL concerts were tiered pricing at reserved seat shows. Jimi Hendrix at the Oakland Coliseum in 1968 $6.00-down to $4.00, earlier that year tickets were all $3.50 at Winterland and he played two 90 minute sets! If you really want to have even the slightest clue about ticket pricing today you've got to read this book! The latest thing is that the major acts get 100% of the door plus a percentage of the ticket fee's. The promoters mostly get their money from beer, hotdogs, etc. (This is for almost all Live Nation shows, the smaller independent promoters get some of the door...) Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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11 years 6 months
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they had tiered pricing when I saw the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964!
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    Walbass
    7 years 2 months ago
    I hate TM
    I would love to read this book, but I'm afraid it might make me suicidal.
  • marye
    7 years 3 months ago
    heh
    someday badger and I will be on the same continent and it will be really confusing.
  • JackstrawfromC…
    7 years 3 months ago
    I wish
    TM was selling the Europe 72 box. "I won't take your life won't even take a limb just unload my shotgun and take a little skin"