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Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ticket prices

Phish is at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday and both shows will likely be filled to SPAC's mandated capacity of 35,000 people. That's 70,000 people over two days at $50 a ticket. I figure that's a $3.5 million dollar gross.

It sounds like a lot of money but the ticket price is fair and that is becoming a rarity is today's commercial world of touring shows. Phish is one of the few bands in the business who appreciates its fan base and never gouges. Another such group is the Dave Matthew Band. They were at SPAC a couple of weeks ago and had a top ticket of $75, with a more modest lawn ticket price. They too sold out two shows to a grateful fan base.

I cannot help but believe that ticket pricing has something to do with each band's enduring popularity. The members of Phish and DMB are amazingly talented musicians and offer phenomenal live shows, but they also respect their fans and that is a secret for long-term survival in any business.

I look at Melissa Etheridge, who is another talented performer, but her arena days are behind her. She's at Albany's Palace Theatre on July 7 and is charging top ticket price of $102. Compare that to the James Taylor and Carole King show at Tanglewood where top ticket is $87 for July 3 & 4, with a lawn show on Monday July 4 priced at only $25.

Of course, Tanglewood has its extortionists too. The Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Tour that plays there on July 27 has a top ticket of $225. That's not a misprint - $225. That's $450 a couple. How badly do you want to see two guys who hate each other perform? It's not like either of them have done a lot lately. I'd take the money and buy every cd they ever made and have bucks left over.

A lot of people are excited about the Bon Jovi appearance at SPAC on July 11. They are asking $175 top, but you might get on the lawn for $35. Now that's a lot of extra money for a comfortable seat.

But when you think about it, $175 for Bon Jovi looks like a bargain when you consider the Chicago and Doobie Brother show at SPAC a week earlier on July 3 is asking $125 for the amphitheater seats. Talk about having your best days behind you - they are the poster boys in that category. The lowest price for the show is $21, which is more like it.

I suppose it's all about what the traffic will bear. Some people will pay anything to see their favorite band and most of the time that favorite band will ask almost anything from their fan base. You gotta respect Phish and Dave Matthews Band. How rich do you have to be?

By the way, my feeling about the show that offers the least value? The American Idol Live 2010 tour is coming to the TU Center on July 17. Whatever they are asking - it's too much. Wait a year and see the performers for free at Live at Five or Rockin' on the River.


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