The San Diego Reader reports the probably not too surprising news that concert sales in the area have been soft, with George Michael’s upcoming concert in particular being something of a bust–the show, which takes place at the Sports Arena on June 17, has reportedly only sold 4,000 tickets out of a possible 15,000. Tickets to upcoming shows by Sheryl Crow and Stone Temple Pilots are selling sluggishly as well. San Diego has been hit particularly hard by the housing bust, and the idea that people are cutting out ever-spiraling ticket prices from their budget isn’t all that far-fetched. But don’t think that a weak market will result in ticket prices–or the surcharges that mark up those prices by as much as 50%–coming down anytime soon!
“I would say that overall sales are down by as much as 20 percent,” says the promoter, who agrees that local promoters will take a drubbing this summer. But he doesn’t agree that tickets will come down next year.
“What you are seeing is that people are waiting until the day of the show to buy tickets. I would say that advance ticket sales are down 30 percent, but day-of-show sales are actually up. By waiting to buy tickets on the day of show, people are avoiding Ticketmaster altogether.”
The promoter maintains that concerts are more important than ever to artists.
“Artists aren’t selling CDs anymore, so they have to go out and tour and make their money from [concert grosses] and merchandise [sales]. But gas prices are crazy. It takes a thousand dollars a day to run one of their trucks. And I guarantee that gas prices will hit six dollars by December. Even if the local promoters wanted to lower ticket prices, they simply won’t be able to do it. Food and every other price is going up. You can’t tell me that entertainment won’t go up proportionally….”
Sure, it’ll go up. But as wages stagnate and things that are, you know, essential to living (or at least to getting to and from that crappier-paying-than-ever job), won’t demand for non-essential items go down? (It seems like that’s already happening, if that anecdote about more people buying shows at the box office in order to avoid service charges can be statistically verified.) And if a half-sold show makes a comparable amount as a sold-out show with lower ticket prices, wouldn’t it make more sense for ticket prices to go down, thus accomodating more people, and, well, creating a better overall atmosphere for both the fan and the performer? I’m by no means an economist, but this story seems like a verbal illustration of the whole supply-and-demand curve, and promoters who are standing there with their arms crossed and saying “no, no, no!!” to lower prices seem to be ignoring the fact that the market for nonessentials like entertainment is contracting as people try to stretch their dollars as far as they can go.