Although tickets for the August 27 Radiohead show at Cricket Amphitheatre are selling well, local concert promoters may be facing a tough summer.
“AEG is hurting with George Michael,” says one insider about how AEG Live is struggling with its June 17 booking at the Sports Arena. “Michaels is kicking off his first U.S. tour in 18 years at the Sports Arena, and they have only sold 4000 tickets [out of 15,000].”
The insider notes that tickets for Stone Temple Pilots and Sheryl Crow shows (both to take place at Concerts on the Green, near Qualcomm Stadium) are selling below expectations.
“You always hear about the high cost of tickets with extra Ticketmaster charges and everything and that eventually the promoters will respond and bring tickets back down to earth. I think the promoters will get burned so badly this year that this will finally be the year they wake up and start bringing prices down for next year.”
One promoter agrees that the local concert industry is in a slump.
“I would say that overall sales are down by as much as 20 percent,” says the promoter, who agrees that local promoters will take a drubbing this summer. But he doesn’t agree that tickets will come down next year.
“What you are seeing is that people are waiting until the day of the show to buy tickets. I would say that advance ticket sales are down 30 percent, but day-of-show sales are actually up. By waiting to buy tickets on the day of show, people are avoiding Ticketmaster altogether.”
The promoter maintains that concerts are more important than ever to artists.
“Artists aren’t selling CDs anymore, so they have to go out and tour and make their money from [concert grosses] and merchandise [sales]. But gas prices are crazy. It takes a thousand dollars a day to run one of their trucks. And I guarantee that gas prices will hit six dollars by December. Even if the local promoters wanted to lower ticket prices, they simply won’t be able to do it. Food and every other price is going up. You can’t tell me that entertainment won’t go up proportionally.…
“People think the promoters are the bad guys. The reality is that they don’t control ticket prices. The band’s agent is the one who says the artist will get this much to play and tickets will be this much. The competition between local promoters is so great that the agent almost always gets what he wants.”
– Ken Leighton