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Bob Lefsetz on Neil Young ticket prices


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Don't know how many people here subscribe to the Lefsetz Letter; the latest one is interesting I thought:

Did I miss a memo here? Or was I living under a rock? Has Neil Young not been touring for over a decade? Is he an unavailable recluse deigning to come back to society to let us hear "Heart Of Gold" one more time? Is he going to play the hits and only the hits? Giving the people what they want? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This has gotten out of control. Does Neil have terminal cancer? Is this his last tour EVER? There is no band, so it’s not like we’ve got to see him this time for fear the original creation will never hit the road again. Actually, didn’t Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young JUST hit the road?

This guy’s been coasting on his reputation too long. Seen as a man of the people, it appears Mr. Young is only in it for himself. Furthermore, what’s this ONE CD with each PAIR of tickets? You can’t afford to give a disc to EVERYBODY? In a world where silver platters are essentially worthless, where you buy a hundred for FREE (with rebates), do costs really have to be cut here? Or is it assumed everybody going to see Neil is taking a date, whom they live with.

And there’s no download. Because they don’t sound fucking GOOD ENOUGH for Neil. Even though many of those who get the album will rip it to iTunes as soon as they get home, so they can transfer it to their iPod and listen in their car or in the gym… WHAT PLANET IS THIS GUY LIVING ON?

You can be iconoclastic if you’re not fucking with me. But these ticket prices are an INSULT! Never mind $257 for the best seats in L.A., you’ve got to pay $132 in PORTLAND! I guess they’re richer in Seattle, with all that Microsoft money, because there the price is $157. Or if you’re really lucky, you live in Denver, where you get a break, the most expensive ducat is $104. BEFORE THE TICKETMASTER FEE!

An act’s worth depends on its fanbase. You have to nurture it, respect people, make them feel they’re along for the ride with you. At these prices, people feel like they’re being held up at gunpoint. And, NOT EVERY NEIL YOUNG FAN RAPED AND PILLAGED AND IS NOW RICH!

Only Neil is rich. But obviously, he needs more.

Bob Dylan is a famous breadhead, but he doesn’t charge these prices, not even close. WITH Elvis Costello, the top ticket is $65.50 in Portland. And Dylan is coming off a number one album and critical kudos. For that price, you may not care that he mangles the old material. You’re privileged just to be there. And maybe, you’ll enjoy it too. (In truth, that’s Portland MAINE, not Oregon, but even in Chicago, Dylan and Costello are only charging $87, while Neil Young is charging $157! At the SAME THEATRE!)

Actually, I enjoyed Neil Young’s "Greendale" album. And tour too. But it wasn’t sold out. It’s not like there’s a shortage of tickets to see the man. Hell, tickets are available EVERYWHERE for this tour.

Just because everybody else is doing it, that doesn’t mean you should too. How many shows do you think people are going to go to if a couple has to drop nearly five hundred dollars to attend? Yup, you’ve got to park, you’ve got to eat, buy some merch…

This is not Led Zeppelin. They were always into the money. And they haven’t been on tour since the SEVENTIES! They can go on the road and charge all they want, it’s a once in a lifetime event.

But not Neil Young. He’s still recording music. He wants us to care.

Neil, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Blame your manager, your agent, the promoter… But if you’re savvy enough to comment on the war in Iraq, you can’t really be that out of touch with the consumer. You want the buck to stop with Bush, then the buck stops here with you. Positively insane.

-- Visit the archive: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

-- If you would like to subscribe to the LefsetzLetter, http://www.lefsetz.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1

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I love Lefsetz. He makes my freakin' day sometimes. I don't always agree with him but he's the master of a good rant and I have respect for that.

In this case, I disagree with his conception of Neil coasting on his laurels (although I am a little disturbed at Neil's recent habit of writing a song in the morning, recording it in the afternoon, doing that ten times and PRESTO a new album!). The dude I saw drill Greendale into 18000 confused heads a few years ago, or the dude who FINALLY brought CSN out of their coma a year ago with all that Living W/War material, is *not* coasting on his laurels.

But he raises some great points. What IS the justification for such high ticket prices? That the market demands it? The restless consumer?

Ticket prices are out of control. Totally, utterly, out of control. And it's the "heritage artists" - those that need it the least, that we really should be pointing our fingers at.

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I love Lefsetz. He makes my freakin' day sometimes. I don't always agree with him but he's the master of a good rant and I have respect for that.

In this case, I disagree with his conception of Neil coasting on his laurels (although I am a little disturbed at Neil's recent habit of writing a song in the morning, recording it in the afternoon, doing that ten times and PRESTO a new album!). The dude I saw drill Greendale into 18000 confused heads a few years ago, or the dude who FINALLY brought CSN out of their coma a year ago with all that Living W/War material, is *not* coasting on his laurels.

But he raises some great points. What IS the justification for such high ticket prices? That the market demands it? The restless consumer?

Ticket prices are out of control. Totally, utterly, out of control. And it's the "heritage artists" - those that need it the least, that we really should be pointing our fingers at.

agreed. The gouging must stop.

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This is not gouging, at all. Neil could charge a thousand dollars for each ticket at Massey, and sell out 10 nights straight.

It's his job. He is earning a living.

He's rich? So what? He is still entitled to charge for his work, and he is charging a lot less than the market will bear. That's pretty obvious, considering tickets for Massey were going for a thousand each on stubhub.com after the pre-sales and before they were even released to the general public.

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Just because everybody else is doing it, that doesn’t mean you should too.

Then again I have this quaint notion that music should be accessible, even if you're a dirt poor Neil Young fan.

Of course he can charge whatever he wants. There's no way I a can argue with that. But this debate isn't about function, it's about doing the right thing.

And the fact that Young is already rich is relevant. The whole notion of "empire building" or accumulating as much wealth as possible is just plain selfish. And I expect artists that espouse a certain moral fiber to walk the talk.

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It appears Neil would agree with you, Ollie, therefore he is charging a fraction of what the market will bear.

I was paying more than fifty bucks per ticket to see Neil play huge stadiums twenty years ago. Was that too much? He sold tens of thousands of tickets. Maybe he should have charged less? It's now twenty years later, and he's playing a tiny venue. How much would be fair? Who decides? Is there some objective price that tickets "should" be?

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It appears Neil would agree with you, Ollie, therefore he is charging a fraction of what the market will bear.

No he doesn't. Nice try. ;)

I was paying more than fifty bucks per ticket to see Neil play huge stadiums twenty years ago.

I just pulled out some of my ticket stubs to huge stadium shows from 20 years ago:

David Bowie w/Duran Duran Aug 28, 1987 - $29.50

Peter Gabriel July 10, 1987 - $25

Springsteen, Sting AND Gabriel Sep 17, 1988 - $37.50

Was that too much?

Apparently so.

He sold tens of thousands of tickets.

To repeat myself, I'm not here to argue what Neil Young CAN do. I've already conceded that debate. He can probably charge a thousand bucks and still sell out Massey Hall. Yay for capitalism! That still doesn't make it the right thing to do in my eyes.

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He sold tens of thousands of tickets.
To repeat myself, I'm not here to argue what Neil Young CAN do. I've already conceded that debate. He can probably charge a thousand bucks and still sell out Massey Hall. Yay for capitalism! That still doesn't make it the right thing to do in my eyes.

I agree. Like the leafs, they can sell out every game charging 3-4 hundred dollars a ticket but I don't think its the right thing to do.

Edited by Guest
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Okay. How much would be fair? Who should decide?

I'd need to take a look at "the books" before giving an accurate opinion on what I think is a fair price but at a minimum no single ticket should be priced over $100.

I think that the artist should dictate the price as much as possible. Of course it has to ultimately be up to the promoter who is aware of all the operating costs but certainly the artist can have some influence in this area.

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I personally think that Neil Young tickets are too expensive. Therefore, I didn't buy any.

I can't envision a "right way" of coming up with ticket prices, other than supply and demand.

People have tried to come up with alternatives, only to find that middlemen (scalpers) jump in and the forces of supply and demand still prevail. Which seems even more distasteful or "wrong" than if the artist charges more and makes more money.

If we were talking about essential needs such as food, shelter, education, and health care, I'd be inclined to say that a greater effort should be made to ensure that everyone has access. But we're talking about a Neil Young concert. And music, good music, excellent music, is still accessible to everyone.

My two cents dollars :)

Peace, Mark

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People have tried to come up with alternatives, only to find that middlemen (scalpers) jump in and the forces of supply and demand still prevail. Which seems even more distasteful or "wrong" than if the artist charges more and makes more money.

Not me. I find it more distasteful to be gouged by someone I respect (the artist) versus some scumbag I'll never know (the scalper).

This whole "we're cutting out the scalper market" doesn't fly with me because it implies that in the past all concert tickets were bought from scalpers. The artist charging everyone the "scalper price" kind of kills the argument.

You can also negotiate with a scalper. Can't do that with ticketmaster.

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Not me. I find it more distasteful to be gouged by someone I respect (the artist) versus some scumbag I'll never know (the scalper).

I see your point. It's a valid one. Having said that, I don't find it distasteful that Neil is charging what he is for tickets.

On another note, from my ticket stubs:

Neil Young Aug. 31, 2000 lawn ticket $38.50 plus service charges

Neil Young & Crazy Horse as part of HORDE FESTIVAL 1997 at Pine Knob lawn ticket $52.31 including charges

Neil Young Buffalo Memorial Aud. 1983 $12.00

Peace, Mark

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I personally think that Neil Young tickets are too expensive. Therefore, I didn't buy any.

Same with me Mark. I wouldn't even for a Dylan Massey Hall show. Just too much money. But thats me.

This whole "we're cutting out the scalper market" doesn't fly with me because it implies that in the past all concert tickets were bought from scalpers. The artist charging everyone the "scalper price" kind of kills the argument.

Yep. Agreed.

Basically, if you couldn't afford (or were unavailable due to work etc) to buy tickets THE DAY they went on sale your left to purchase from a scapler anyway, and now for upwards of double the original price.

Higher ticket prices don't discourage scaplers, they only charge more.

Example: http://www.ticketsnow.com/TicketsList.aspx?PID=537871

Massey Hall show Nov. 26.

26 tickets available from $348 to $749 each

26 tickets...and thats only one of a few different places re-selling tickets.

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i find this is like my etr conversations i have with friends.

dont make 'em cheaper. just like dont take away the charge for the etr.

i have no problem paying. if those tix were 25% of the price i paid (50 bucks a ticket), i'd care to wager i wouldn't be going to all three nights....

like i said earlier in a thread, keep the ticket prices high, and keep the fly by nighters away until he tours during the summer, and you can get your lawn tix for 45 bucks.

until then, it'll cost to see where he's playing.

btw, if he was solo, i would gladly have paid even more.....

you only live once.

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I don't consider myself a fly by night Neil Young fan. If I was in a different position financially I would have bought tickets. Unfortunately for me it's not a question of whether I choose to spend the money on the tickets, it's a question of if I did what would I eat next week.

I hate high ticket prices and when big shows come to town like the Rolling Stones I never buy tickets in advance. After the first song is finished scalpers sell $175 seats for $25. These artists don't need my money. I applaud a band like Pearl Jam for fighting to keep ticket costs low. They care about their fan base and want their shows to be accessible to all their fans not just the ones who make over $100'000 a year.

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