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Many of our clients are comedy clubs, probably not surprisingly since most of us in the office are huge comedy fans. So, when I saw this article yesterday, I admit I did cartwheels on the inside:
Now, I never saw them do stand up – I just wasn’t old enough to get in the club – but I have seen all of their movies several times.
I am REALLY hoping they come to the Comedy Club Stardome in Birmingham. There really is no better place to watch a comedy show, and these guys are living legends.
What’s your favorite Cheech and Chong moment? I personally like the “Smoking Labrador” scene. YouTube it for laughs; I can’t link it here due to some “questionable content,” but check out the screen cap above and you can probably figure it out.
As a son of Alabama, and a one time resident of Mobile, I have been anxiously awaiting the local premiere of this movie. In it, a Mobile native takes an in depth look at the parallel cultures in the town where Mardi Gras was born in the US (no, it wasn’t New Orleans). It has won awards at Edinburgh and Sundance, and has attracted a lot of positive critical attention.
So, naturally, when I heard that the film would be premiering in Mobile at the end of this month at the historic Saenger Theater, I jumped online to pick up some tickets.
The $24 ticket price for two tickets rapidly escalated to $44 thanks to Ticketmaster’s fees.
An 83% increase.
How much of that goes to the Saenger? To the film’s directors or distributors? Zilch.
Apparently others in the community were a bit outraged too - talk of the fleecing made it to the commentary forums on the Mobile Register’s website, al.com. One of the commenters asked, “Why do people put up with this?”
The good news is, you don’t have to. Not this time. Hit the Crescent on August 15 instead and pay a fair price. I’ll see you there. And as for the Saenger and other venues whose customers are currently getting robbed by Ticketmaster, you don’t have to put up with it either. www.ticketbiscuit.com.
Live Nation is having executive shakeups. IAC is spinning off Ticketmaster. The secondary market is growing at a breakneck clip, meaning that, for all intents and purposes, ticket scalping is now legal. Those fortunate enough to be living with their heads above ground have seen the entire entertainment industry change in the last decade. So that leaves us to wonder – what does the future hold for ticketing? The answer lies in some current trends.
- No one is buying CDs.Whether the record labels want to admit it or not, they will never again be able to capture 100% of the monies for distributed copies of music. No matter how many ridiculous lawsuits the RIAA lobs into hail-mary land, there will still be plenty of folks who figure out how to get away with it. Some artists are warming up to (and even embracing) this fact as well. Perhaps they’ve gotten tired of the labels jerking them around and feel like the current disruption borne of Napster and P2P sharing is comeuppance long overdue.
- Because of #1, income diversification is becoming more important to artists.Like Jay Z, Will Smith, P Diddy, and scores of others have figured out already, there’s money to be made on the lifestyle they represent. By branding themselves, they create an entire subculture with built in fans and purchasers, and concordantly are raking in the dough with these extraneous pursuits. For those artists who may not have the knack for designing $400 jeans or busting out Oscar worthy performances as living legends, touring and live shows will provide some much needed income. I like this effect. I hope it will weed out some of the more annoying manufactured acts of the day.
- The internet makes secrets impossible. For artists, this means that the drunken brawl fight, the DUI, or the wardrobe malfunction can get them miles and miles of free PR leading up to an album release. For corporations, it means that now more than ever ethical gray areas and potential shady dealings will be increasingly aired out to the court of public opinion via cyberspace. All it takes is one leak to set off the investigation machine, and with droves of corporate types growing increasingly disenfranchised with their employers, the leaks are coming fast and furious. Thus, there is increased scrutiny on corporate action, and thus increased distrust of larger corporations.
- The internet makes communities easy. Call it “web 2.0” or “Social Media” or whatever you will, but the net is making it easy for like-minded folks to convene and share thoughts. For artists, this means that they can more easily connect with and communicate to their fans, and their fans can help them sell more tickets.
Given these four trends, the future of ticketing will look much different than the Live Nation / Ticketmaster oligopoly of today. I see two possible scenarios. In the first, entertainers will look to connect directly with their fans through their websites and on-line communities, removing the middle man whenever possible to preserve their diverse streams of revenue. Companies that will win in the ticketing (and merchandising) space in this scenario will learn how to partner with artists and entertainers in this on-line market. Instead of the tired “one size fits all” paradigm Ticketmaster has shoved down the collective throat of anyone wanting to sell tickets, companies will win by offering superior service, flexible terms, and solid software. This, the rosier of the possible scenarios, sees artists connecting closer with their fan bases, and fans being more willing to pay to support their favorite artists.
Then there’s an alternative scenario, where the Ticketmasters share more of their piece of the pie with artists. Happily playing the “evil giant”, Ticketmaster will continue to increase fees and line the pockets of the performers while the performers publicly chastise the company to save face. In this scenario, everyone loses. Piracy and theft will be rampant, and the industry will veer toward a more corrupt state.
So what will the future of ticketing hold? If we know anything, change is a coming. Forrester recently predicted that the primary and secondary markets will eventually merge, and that ticket prices will creep toward actual demand. Again, companies that will win in this space will have the data and technology to “right-price” tickets, in essence offering a trusted primary market interface while adjusting price to meet market demand.
A few days back I wrote about the ethical dilemma facing Ticketmaster with the acquisition of TicketsNow, and the perception that their actions in this space seem awfully shady. In that article, I paraphrased a quote from my ethics prof in biz school.
That professor, Marianne Jennings, is now regarded as an expert in the ticketing industry. At the NATB conference last week, she said that Ticketmaster should be cut out of the secondary market altogether. (read the article here). Jennings and her co-presenter Dr. Stephen Happel said that the TM-TN merge created a “vertical monopoly” that can and is hurting consumers.
By allowing a dominant primary ticket seller, like Ticketmaster, to gain more control of a market, consumers are deprived of a “highly evolved market,” which leads to limited choices and less competition, according to the professors. In addition, Ticketmaster has taken an active role in helping legislators formulate new laws for how the ticket industry is governed, which can also lead to unfair advantage.
The good professor goes on to state that TM could play in the secondary market if it played fair, but it looks like the company has no intention of doing that, so far.
Let’s get one thing straight. We’re all for capitalism. Making money is good, but you have to have guidelines. Our strategy is different than that of a Ticketmaster. Instead of figuring out how to make more money off of fans by engaging in borderline illegal and indisputably unethical practices, we’re constantly listening to venue owners, musicians, promoters, and the fans to deliver products and services that people want, and that help sell more tickets.
Ticketmaster is locked into a quagmire of sunk costs. As a public company, their shareholders compel them to deliver growth. Seemingly unable to innovate, they turn to practices such as these- another reason we believe the writing is on the wall for the industry giant. The public demands better and the market is responding.