San Diego Ticket Sales Sagging: A Sign Of Things To Come?

idolatortick.jpgThe 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.

Tickets To Slide? [San Diego Reader via Coolfer]

  • Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    I can’t believe the fans are treating STP like that. Especially at a hometown show for the band!

    Wait…STP treated the fans like shit at a hometown show for 1/2 the band? Oh, never mind then.

  • Ned Raggett


    An interesting but artificial comparison point might be to the Cure show that just happened in San Diego — I say artificial because it was a postponed show from last year, as has been the case with most of the current tour, and presumably most of the tickets were carried over from flusher time.

  • Ned Raggett

    flusher TIMES. But the idea of this being ‘flusher time’ also works.

  • alec_baldwin

    Tickets for a George Michael show aren’t selling? Let me put on my big surprise face.

  • Maura Johnston

    @cosmiclove: I know at least three people who would have gone had ticket prices not been so insane.

  • Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    @Maura Johnston: and they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and…

  • TheRunningboard7

    the image = hilarious.

  • Chris Molanphy

    @Maura Johnston: [raises hand meekly] I am one.

    Praying for time (or a price cut),

  • Anonymous

    I am having trouble unloading 2 REM tix for Atlanta. I thought for sure that would sell out (being relatively “hometown” as well).

  • Halfwit

    So… I SHOULDN’T have bought a fistful of tickets for Radiohead with plans to scalp them for profit? Son of a…

  • Lucas Jensen

    @whoneedslight: Well, the ticket prices are just prohibitive and REM decided to play during Athfest, Athens’ annual Yay us! music festival. Half of the damned town is playing here that night.

  • Audif Jackson Winters III

    In other Atlanta live music news, someone offered me $100 for my Vampire Weekend/Walkmen show at the Earl a few months back (face value: $15). So it can’t all be that bad.

  • Maura Johnston

    @Audif Jackson Winters III: Well, to be fair, $100 is probably cheaper than the ticket’s price after convenience fees.

  • Audif Jackson Winters III

    @Maura Johnston: It’s true, especially since I chose the “TicketFast” print-at-home option.

  • Anonymous

    @Big Gray.:

    Corporate rock is the devil.

  • Anonymous

    @Audif Jackson Winters III:

    I would so rather pay $100 to see a band I like play the Earl than $100 to go to the amphitheater. My bad.

    I opted for a Washington Nationals game on Saturday followed by The National show in Richmond the following night.

  • BobbyMoon

    The Madonna show at Petco Park seems to be selling well.

    But then again her fans follow her around like she was the Greatfull Dead.

  • alec_baldwin

    @BobbyMoon: Madonna can’t sell records, but she can sure sell out a stadium. It’s been that way for years. Go figure.

    @Maura Johnston: I can’t hold this surprise face for much longer. It’s starting to hurt. :-)

  • Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    @whoneedslight: Oh word? I’ll be at the Nats game too.

    Not saying we should meet up or anything, but still. Small world.

    Also, props for the wrapped in plastic.

  • Maura Johnston

    Not to pressure anyone, but I wholly endorse any Idolator commenter get-togethers that take place at baseball games.

  • Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    @whoneedslight: Oh..the 21st.

    Well then I won’t be at the Nats game.

    However, if anyone is at 930 or DC9 tonight, or the Nats game tommorow, I’m *totally* down for some awkward “so, nice to meet you”s as well.

  • Anonymous

    @Maura Johnston:

    Yo, if anyone is at the Nats game on the 21st or The National show in Richmond on the 22nd, I’m *totally* in for a couple of awkward “so, nice to meet you” moments.

  • alec_baldwin

    @Maura Johnston: I’d totally be there, but I’m a little far from home for the summer. Take pix of owenmeany. He’s the best, well, next to you and Honeybfly.

  • Anonymous

    Live shows are where most real musicians make their money, so this is definitely bad news for musicians. (I don’t care about piracy nazi music labels, so falling record sales don’t bother me.) If the artists were smart, they would be pressuring Ticketmaster to lower its fees, but since Ticketmaster is a monopoly, TM will fight the artists until the bitter end on that. We can only hope that this will drive artists to smaller, non-TM venues. That would be a win-win for everyone except the labels and TM and who cares about those greedy bastards anyway…