Reprinted from Bob Lefsetz's email newsletter
Every day I get e-mail complaining about this helpful service. Whether it be exorbitant charges on cheap tickets or a charge for printing the tickets yourself, people are fed up.
TicketMaster is awaiting its Napster moment. When the public finally gets some traction, has an alternative, TM is going to be in serious trouble.
If Live Nation does its own ticketing it MUST bury the service charge in the price of the ticket. And, if it does this, where does this leave TicketMaster?
Live Nation has the chance to solve this entire problem. Will the agents and managers help them and agree not to commission the fee, or will they be glad that the blame is not placed upon them, and screw Rapino and his minions?
Ultimately, the high fees reflect badly on the artists themselves. They just don't know it yet...
E-Mail re this today:
Want to hear something that's FUCKED UP? I purchased tickets to a Bela Fleck and the Flecktones concert in Birmingham, AL through Ticketmaster. Face value of ticket - $43. Total Charge once it's run through Ticketmaster - $111.10 for two tickets. That's ridiculous, but I like Bela Fleck and want to see the show, so I'll pony up the cash. Apparently not enough people were willing to pay $55/ticket to see the band, ticket sales were sluggish, and they canceled the show. So I check my credit card statement today to confirm the refund, and it is only for $107. I call Ticketmaster and they say that even though the show was canceled by the artist/promoter, I am not going to be refunded the full amount due to a NON-REFUNDABLE processing fee. Are you fucking kidding me? Think about that for a second--that means that if 500 people have purchased tickets, Ticketmaster is pocketing $1,500 of the CONSUMER'S money. And the consumers being ripped off are the band's dedicated fans--people who bought tickets IN ADVANCE to guarantee entry to the show! What should I do the next time this band announces a show--wait and see if they sell enough tickets so that it looks like the show is going to happen, then buy my tickets?
Let's say that this happens in a couple of cities 2-3 times per week--you're talking over $150,000 per year pocketed by THE MAN. No wonder consumers are sick and tired of the music industry! Working with bands and having promoted shows, it infuriates me to think that this happens to enthusiastic music fans. If a band or promoter overshoots and realizes they are going to lose their ass if they go through with a show, they shouldn't further penalize the music fans they are already disappointing--they should absorb the "service fee". I'm actually glad this happened to me--a lesson learned so I don't piss off my patrons in the future. Thought you would enjoy this "fleecing of America".
The music channel can trumpet its VMA ratings increase all it wants, perception is the VMAs were a train-wreck disrespectful to music, the veritable last straw/nail in the service's coffin.
It wasn't about ratings, it was about rebuilding MTV's franchise. But by going lowest common denominator, by going for the gold, i.e. cash, MTV blew its final chance to fall on the right side of this issue, i.e. MUSIC!
It's an entertainment channel now. The king of the teen reality shows. Hope it works for them, because their days in the music industry are DONE! As is MTV.com. If you want music, you go to Yahoo. Or AOL. MTV.com? RollingStone.com? They blew those franchises long ago.
3. Terrestrial Radio
What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where RADIO is hated MORE than the major labels?
One in which music fans have GIVEN UP on the major labels.
Radio used to be your friend, it used to be in bed with you. Now it's a tool of corporations you want nothing to do with. There's no honesty, research that delivers a constant, well, interrupted by endless commercials, drumbeat of empty calorie crap. Sure, it's free. But so is Net Radio. Blame whomever you want, but the terrestrial band is dead.
As for satellite? It barely ever got started.
Just like Whole Foods and Wild Oats, XM and Sirius will merge. And then talent/programming payments will plunge and what is aired will be ever narrower in focus, akin to terrestrial radio. Yup, Karmazin and Sirius are ultimately going to rule. It's almost endless repeats of the obvious on most Sirius channels. You expect the terrestrial guys who run it to do it any differently?
4. The Major Labels
They release crap and they sue their customers on the behalf of artists they don't pay. Perception is so bad, their future is fucked. Quality, long term/career bands want nothing to do with the majors! So, all they're left with is music of the moment, which is very hard and very expensive to break, and doesn't last long.
Want to know how deep the hatred for the majors is? The TECH REPORTER for the "New York Times", David Pogue, is beating them up for overpriced, evanescent ringtones. (http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/13/a-baffling-new-phenomenon-customized-ringtones/) When you can't even pull the wool over the eyes of the fourth estate, always out of touch, usually not even caring about the music industry, you know you're fucked.
5. Steve Jobs
Mr. Jobs is on the brink of a Q rating meltdown (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/Q+rating).
Oh, he hasn't changed. Not much. But suddenly, all his wisdom and all his talent have resulted in Apple being top dog. And EVERYBODY shoots for the top dog.
Stunningly, Jobs isn't even aware of the coming backlash. As evidenced by his failure to foresee the early adopter reaction to the iPhone price drop.
There have to be fewer special events. Steve's got to do some press where he laughs at himself. The record labels and movie studios and TV networks have done SUCH a good job of depicting him as a tyrant that some of it is now sticking. Steve's RIGHT! But right isn't everything.
Steve has always walked a fine line between the industry and the fan. But now, it's getting him in trouble. He's isolated, he's alone, out in the desert.
In order to win in the twenty first century, first and foremost you have to be aligned with the public. The Tommy Mottola decade is over. It's not about your flashy life and power, if you believe that, you've watched too much "Cribs". It's about being honest and delivering for the public at large, with your cash and power being mere BYPRODUCTS!
Buying tunes from Starbucks via Wi-Fi on your iPod Touch? That doesn't get my hormones going. How about a subscription that can verify via Wi-Fi, i.e. when you enter Starbucks? How about more music for less money? How about further illustrating you're in OUR world, not THEIRS!
6. 50 Cent
We don't hate Kanye because he's not dangerous. 50? We're afraid to walk down the same side of the street with him.
He's become so focused on business, has such a bunker mentality, that we can no longer relate. We don't want to give you our money to make you RICH, we want to belong to your club, we want your music to ENHANCE OUR LIVES!
50 needs psychotherapy.
Stunningly, he was warm in the VMA pre-game.
Only one problem, most people didn't see it.
Yup, you're on MTV and people STILL don't see you!
7. Ticket Prices
Since music is free (and if you don't know this, you probably disagree with most of this screed), acts make their revenue on the road. Only one problem, THEY'RE GOUGING US!
Oh, we're paying to see who we want. But we don't want to see many people.
Used to be going to the concert was a decision just a little more major than going to a movie, they weren't that different in price. Now a show is an EVENT! As a result, there's a focus on production rather than music. There's auto-tune and instruments on hard drive, all in an effort to make it perfect. Live isn't perfect, live breathes. These events leave one cold. Once is enough. And they drain all the money out of the marketplace.
There's no concept of repeat business in today's concert industry. It's get all the money NOW! If you're doing it right, people will want to see you in the future. They'll be on your side if you don't rip them off. They'll keep coming back. See the Dave Matthews Band for instruction.
Often the only game in town. Where you can buy very little repertoire, a good deal of it censored to fit the company's criteria.
The Eagles are gonna get paid upfront, they're gonna move a lot of product, but it's never gonna burnish the Arkansas retailer's image. Then again, people stupid enough to still buy CDs are probably so out of it they don't care that their communities have been ruined by the giant, they just want low prices. And probably think Iraq was behind 9/11 too.
Who you're in business with says a lot about you. Choose your partners wisely.
9. Simon Cowell
At least he has the balls to go on TV. Where you'll never see Doug Morris or Edgar Bronfman, Jr.
Simon gets away with it though, because he's not dishonest, he tells what he believes to be the truth. Bottom line, mainstream music is SO bad that the catatonic minority would rather buy gussied-up wannabes than the incomprehensible works of art rockers and metal-heads.
In the modern era, you've got to have a public face. You've got to be able to take your hits.
10. Music Itself
Unlike Mr. Cowell, most in this industry are dishonest. They won't call out travesties, they're only interested in what sells. And unless you LIVE for music, you just can't find anything with meaning.
Albums are WAY too long. Our heroes don't deliver anymore. New acts are not as good as the legendary ones. There's a focus on everything BUT the music. FASHION ROCKS? No it doesn't.
The number one criterion is GOOD. If it's not good, just play the old stuff. That's what the teenagers are doing. That's why 20 million people want to see Led Zeppelin's show at the O2 Arena.
Led Zeppelin didn't play by the rules. They were not beholden to the man. They didn't play it safe. They were unique. But, despite all the foregoing, they were strangely listenable.
That doesn't describe today's music, and that's why today's music is in the dumper. And it doesn't matter if you agree with me, that's the PERCEPTION!
And we can blame everybody for this. The agents, the managers, the labels, MTV, radio... The only person we can't blame is the fan.
But now the fan has power. And he's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. Won't anybody worry about the FAN?
We Don't Give A Shit About DRM
Anybody who cares about DRM is stealing the music in an unprotected format anyway. Rather than pissing the people off who ARE paying, just leave the DRM off. But really, this is a tempest in a teapot.
The Price Is Too High
I understand record revenues are tanking, but by raising prices, you're just encouraging people to steal. Don't tell me how much money, time and effort you put into recording your material. They spent a lot on the DeLorean too, and IT failed.
People own a lot of music now. They have a limited music budget. Focus on GETTING THAT BUDGET FROM EVERYONE! Not trying to get thousands of dollars from a few.