Anyone who has gone to a concert lately knows ticket prices are out of control. It isn’t just Taylor Swift, either. It seems as if even modestly successful artists are charging exorbitant fees for their shows. Classic rock bands are often the worst offenders, sometimes charging hundreds of dollars for nosebleed tickets. The recent Guns N Roses tour featured upper-level seats at many arenas going for over a hundred dollars and even more on the secondary market.
Speaking of the secondary market, legal ticket scalping has exacerbated the problem. Once the dominion of shady characters in back alleys, ticket scalping has gone high-tech and legal, with numerous sites on the internet, including Ticketmaster, selling grossly inflated tickets.
Speaking of Ticketmaster, they are the chief culprit behind the absurd prices of many shows. The service will sell you tickets with inflated fees, often making a $50-dollar ticket end up costing close to $75 dollars. Speaking of scalping, Ticketmaster even allows tickets to be purchased at regular prices and immediately re-listed on their site for inflated scalper prices. In short, it is little more than organized crime.
It is debatable how much input the artists have on the set prices. Some, like former blue-collar hero turned liberal shill, Bruce Springsteen, simply shrugged off the complaints despite his tickets going upwards of $5,000 dollars. He said: “We have those tickets that are going to go for that [higher] price somewhere anyway. The ticket broker or someone is going to be taking that money. I’m going, ‘Hey, why shouldn’t that money go to the guys that are going to be up there sweating three hours a night for it?’
One up-and-coming artist recently canceled a show when he saw the ticket prices the venue was charging, igniting a war of words between the two. Oliver Anthony, the overnight sensation and the voice behind “Rich Men of Richmond,” shuttered his show at the legendary Cotton Eyed Joe nightclub in Knoxville over exorbitant prices for the show and meet-and-greet.
Anthony wrote on social media: “Cotton Eyed Joe has been cancelled [sic]. Ultimately, it’s my fault for not being more directly involved with the venues who have reached out. My plate has been full and I delegated the responsibility to someone else to help me book. I am not pointing fingers at Cotton Eyed Joe, I don’t know where the miscommunication took place. I’m just upset seeing those prices.”
Anthony went on to offer full refunds, from his own pocket if need be, and a promise to find another venue where tickets could be had for $25 dollars. The post on Anthony’s Instagram took it a step further: “Don’t buy $90 Cotton Eyed Joe tickets or $200 for a meet and greet. That’s not acceptable. Just saw the Facebook post and lost my s***. Miscommunication with my friend booking shows and I. My shows should never cost more than $40, ideally no more than $25. Hell, out of the 4 shows we have currently done, 2 of them have been completely free. This will get straightened out tonight. Hold off on buying tickets for now.”
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with the club, and they fired back at Anthony: “The North Man of Richmond contracted to play the Cotton Eyed Joe for $120,000 for 60 minutes …. after doing the math and knowing we can only hold apprx. 1500 people, paying the ticket website their fee to sell the tickets, paying the tax man, opening the JOE on a closed night … we set the ticket price to break even and bring our customers a show we thought would be fun. To our talent agency and promotor friends that follow us … be careful booking the North Man of Richmond.”
The venue wasn’t happy, Oliver Anthony wasn’t happy, and ultimately the fans weren’t either. Even if the Cotton Eyed Joe is being transparent about their costs, you still have to admire the artist for not allowing what he felt was price-gouging.
It is likely a battle Anthony won’t win long term. As his popularity grows, so will the demand, and so will ticket prices. For now, it is good to see him stand up for the working folks, unlike the former Boss.
Featured image screengrab from embedded YouTube video
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