View Full Version : Prince's New Ticketing Experiment

April 16th, 2011, 12:33 AM
It was announced a few days ago that Prince will be doing twenty-one shows in the LA area over the next few weeks. The first few went on sale Tuesday with the following ticket price structure:

VIP tables down on the floor close to the stage - $750
VIP Floor seats & loge rows closest to stage - $500
The next-best floor & loge seats - $200
All others representing 80% of the house - $25

My friend & I got pretty nice loge seats for the $25 price and went to the gig last night. I was expecting it to be a feeding frenzy. Prince is still one of the most popular live acts around, on his last big tour he sold out 6 nights at Staples Center at an average $80 a ticket.

But something weird happenned. It was not a feeding frenzy - it was not close to sold out. Several sections up top were covered by tarps and there were big holes in the VIP rows even after the show started. There was no one in line at the box office when I got there a half hour before showtime. Out of curiosity I asked what seats were available for $25 and they offerred me several options VERY close to stage, like 4th row floor in two different sections. I am sure these were the $500 seats that went unsold. And no one was buying them even at fire sale prices.

The show was incredible, fantastic - 3 1/2 hours, 6 encores - and I'm gonna write a review later on. But I thought the business aspect was interesting. How is that something you'd think lots of people would WANT - cheap entry to see a legendary performer with huge mass appeal - seemingly gets less desirable as you make it more accessible?

Waltz Mastering
April 16th, 2011, 02:35 AM
One week pre-sale is not a lot, ..but it still seems odd..Are people that broke?

Do you know the capacity of the venue? What kind of promo, etc.
Maybe as people hear about the shows they will sell.

I saw Todd Rundgren a couple weeks ago at a 1200 seat theater and it was full capacity tickets $45- $145

April 16th, 2011, 11:25 AM
One week pre-sale...

I think exactly THAT is the problem. The people who have the money at hand most probably HAVE scheduling problems on such a short note, and the kids (which would need some time to save enough money anyway) are surely not close followers (after all, he's not in the charts), and word of mouth needs a while.


April 16th, 2011, 05:33 PM
you know the famous quote by John Lennon at The Beatles' Royal Command Performance, where he says "those of you up in the back can clap, those of you in the front just rattle your jewelry"?

I know all of us (including and especially Cyndi) hate when the front is all the high rollers and the back and rafters is the enthusiastic 'real' audience.
it makes it MUCH harder.

April 16th, 2011, 06:04 PM
Yeah, and who wants to sit at a table in front of the stage at a rock show? Boxes I get, but this seems kinda lounge-y.

April 16th, 2011, 06:40 PM
I know all of us (including and especially Cyndi) hate when the front is all the high rollers and the back and rafters is the enthusiastic 'real' audience.
it makes it MUCH harder.

I can say from first hand experience that the audience hates it too.

I saw George Clinton and the Funkadelics at the AVO sessions here in Basel a couple of years ago. The front and centre audience was the local gentry dressed in smoking jackets and drinking champagne (complementary of course).





When George Clinton asked the audience to come up in front of the stage and dance, well us in the wings got up only to be confronted by security and pushed back. Eventually either GC's management said something to the folks running the show, or we overwhelmed them with sheer numbers, but security finally backed down and we had a great time. Still, the image sticks with me.

April 17th, 2011, 06:34 PM
I do kind of wonder if the slightly short notice had an effect on this in terms of people's own personal schedules.

But I also notice one thing about that, the 21 shows in the area bit.

That could certainly spread out the audience a bit.

I also wonder what sort of word of mouth chatter might have spread "the word" that might have ended up taking the form of people chattering to each other with something like "hey, did you hear about the Prince shows? tickets are 750 bucks!".. "whoa, fuck that!". The matter of bunches of pretty decent seats at $25 a shot might have been lost in the noise, considering that we have to deal with the phenomenon of wide spread of "information" among a lot of people between each other without taking the trouble to actually, you know, make sure of what the fuck they're talking about.

The "high rollers in front, real fans back in the peasant seats" thing is a real issue too. I remember reading something written by a particular well known musician whose band has been filling arenas and summer big amphitheater venues consistently for decades now, talking about this. Mainly about how the first couple rows of shows often ended up being filled by "comp" tickets held by people who happened to be in positions to get their paws on such things and often don't give a shit about the band. He told of this "great idea" he had (joking of course but about a genuine wish) of a giant seating system mechanism in which periodically, throughout the show, rows of seating would be rotated so that the back rows would be rolled up to the front, and the rest of the rows shuffled back to accommodate, cycling through so everybody had a shift up front.

I imagine it bugs a lot of people that a lot of the time their most devoted and loyal supporters can't get within 100 feet of the stage because they can only afford the Peasant ticket level.


April 18th, 2011, 03:56 AM
Considering the "cheap seats" for his next three shows are now completely sold out, I'm gonna put it down to short notice. Word of mouth is now out. The show I was talking about had gone on sale only two days earlier, at the same time it was announced he was doing 21 nights, leading to a combination of "I already have plans for this Thursday night" and "there will be 20 more chances to see him." It was just kinda sad seeing the place less than packed for something so special, but I'm sure the next set of dates will make up for it.

And any of you folks in LA, this is a show to take your family to! Keep an eye out for when the next set of shows goes on sale.

FYI the venue is the LA Forum which holds about 14,000 for a concert like this, considering his glyph-shaped stage takes up most of the floor.

Here's the review I wrote for LAist:


April 19th, 2011, 03:14 PM
Here's the review I wrote for LAist:


Great article. Do you write professionally?

April 20th, 2011, 06:35 PM
I imagine it bugs a lot of people that a lot of the time their most devoted and loyal supporters can't get within 100 feet of the stage because they can only afford the Peasant ticket level.

Just needs a return to ye olde Shakespearean-era Globe Theater ticketing system: "Groundlings" get the cheapest tickets (and the entire floor) general admission, standing room only.

Only two tickets per person/credit card number/etc. The more expensive tickets are 'box' (box seats surrounding the floor area) and 'club box' seats (hoity-toity "VIP" private 'club box' rooms like in sports arenas), surrounding the general admission floor area, for rich people that don't want to mingle with the sweaty riff-raff or inadvertently get caught in a mosh, and want to...sit down at a rock show.

And mandatory jail time for scalpers, dammit.

April 20th, 2011, 07:20 PM
Great article. Do you write professionally?


you know what's even weirder? he gets paid to hit drums!

April 20th, 2011, 07:22 PM
Only two tickets per person/credit card number/etc.

And mandatory jail time for scalpers, dammit.


Just make it all electronic ticketing, and you have to present the credit card used to book the show to get your seating pass.

April 20th, 2011, 07:36 PM
What's interesting, I read an article in Rolling Stone a few weeks ago that suggested there is legislation out there now that would OUTLAW paperless ticketing, on the Randian premise that once a person obtains a ticket to an event, they're free to sell it for any price they want, and it's illegal for the bands to take steps to prevent it. It's already hit some bands who are doing it - I forget where but Springsteen had to change his policy so you could at least pick up a paper ticket at will call on the night.

REM's manager was quoted as asking "Have we reached such a complete turnaround that not only is scalping not illegal, it's illegal NOT to scalp?"

(FYI I write and sometimes shoot pics for LAist, which is an online mag. I don't know if you'd call me a "professional" though. I don't get paid but I do get to see some expensive- ass gigs for free.)

April 20th, 2011, 08:21 PM
That's truly out there.

Why does our entire legal system seem to be turned upside down...