A very positive meeting in London with Neil Warnock – the agent planning King Crimson’s next assault on live music culture. Plans are afoot for both 2018 and 2019, many of which will hopefully raise eyebrows and cause excitement. Topics included both the recent growth within the band, as documented elsewhere, and also the ongoing issues with ticket touts, scalpers, secondary sellers, pre-sale subscription clubs, call-them-what-you-will on the current US tour. On the very first day of sale, Ticketmaster had a ticket on “resale” for the show at the Beacon for $1,000 – a mark-up of $850. And this on a show which still has plenty of availability. At certain theatres, there are “long-term ticket holders” who apparently have the advance right to purchase tickets. One could fairly accurately overlay a map of those tickets with those offered for expensive resale.
This causes offence on so many levels – not least because, with a touring party of 20 people, all of whom are at a time of life where they rightly expect to travel and stay in a degree of comfort, budgets on King Crimson tours are always tight. Large amounts of money flow in – and comparably large amounts of money flow out. We price tickets at a fair rate, and that is the one that we expect our fans to pay. But if tickets are going to be sold for extortionate amounts, then better that this money goes to the band. I am told that ticket scalping is the second oldest profession after prostitution, so no doubt this is the lament of artists over the centuries.
So how might we respond, as a company which aspires to intelligence, and to “operate in the marketplace while being free of the values of the marketplace”? The sensible response would seem to be to increase the number of tickets that we sell ourselves to bona fide fans from DGMLive. On the current US tour, we are offering 60 Royal Package tickets for each show (and tickets remain for all the shows except Austin and The Beacon). If we were to control the front 200 seats, that would remove the majority of the prime seats on which the resellers thrive. And if there are venues that insist on advance sales to their own special internal market, then maybe we simply can’t play those venues. It seems that DGM’s desire to find an equitable model for the industry – which has thus far taken us into being a “record label” and “management”, may now extend to ticket sales.
The train that is currently whisking me home to Bredonborough is, in part, moving me between those roles. Agents and concerts at the London end of the line, two albums and a boxed set needing completing at the Bredonborough end of the line…
More on that tomorrow