Thursday, June 14, 2007

Raging for The Machine

This week Rage Against The Machine announced that they would play Alpine Valley in East Troy WI, their first headlining concert in nearly 10 years. With talk of a tour, an album & an all out return by the legendary hip-hopanistas, I have to admit that given the politcal climate, I couldn't think of a better time for Rage to make triumphant return.

One big problem though.....a quick glance at the ticket price revealed $60 for all seats! (including the crappy lawn seats in the back). in addition to that, the concert was being promoted by what i consider to be the industry leader in corporate bullshit- Livenation (remember them...they used to be called....uh...Clear Channel)

How could this happen? I thought Rage Against The Machine (and specifically Zach De La Rocha) had a little more respect for their fans than to do the old business as usual high concert ticket prices. This band that was supposed to be for the people & by the people, championing the rights of the little guy, is now stabbing the little guy in the back!

Many bands work really hard to keep their concert tickets low for their fans but the drawback is always a a little bit of a lower pay-day for the band in exchange for a reasonable ticket price (which many of the gazillionaire bands probably should be just fine with...but usually aren't). I'm just surprised that RATM of all bands would have taken the low road & listened to the Livenation credo of "If people will pay it, then it must be worth it to them" . Rage & their management (unlike many bands) are in the unique position where because of the fact that the band has taken a 10 year hiatus from live performances (& were hugely popular the entire time), they can basically name their situation in terms of ticket price & venue and it's very likely that the show will either do very well or sell out. But of all bands I thought Rage would have been one to ask themselves the all important question "Just because we can get it....does that mean we should?" Is it really fair to all of the fans who aren't selling lots of records & tickets...and who will really have to scrape to buy tickets for this show?

Let's do a little comparative math:

The Price of a pair of RATM tickets at alpine valley
(as per the ticketmaster site)


Total Convenience Charge(s) US $12.10 x 2

Order Processing Charge(s) US $4.85

TicketFast Delivery

US $2.50


now look at it this way of those dollars at $152.00 per pair & about 40,000 capicity at alpine valley, the total amount a sold out house will pay to see Rage Against The Machine is somewhere around $3 million.

The charge for the tickets alone is about $2.4 million. Meaning (if my concert economics are right that generally the band gets about 75% of the gross in a big concert like this.....Rage probably walks with about $1.8 Million.....not bad....but when it's money earned through & for Livenation (the walmart of the music world) & it's also money that was earned by making their fans scrimp & save, what are you really Raging Against?

Their fans aren't doctors or lawyers or people with big incomes. The Rage Against The Machine Fan (by now) is probably working at a entry level to middle income job where an extra $152 out of pocket probably means that this person really is put out of their way to go see the show.

Rather than taking care of their fans, Rage Against The Machine has opted for the big payday.

Isn't this band big enough to exist above that? Do they really NEED Livenation as a partner in risk on this, taking a piece of the pie & subsequently raising the ticket price so the band gets paid what they want? Let's make no mistake, behind this all is the Livenation promoter trying as hard as possible to get a higher ticket price because they of all people know that people will pay it, that's their job....create as big a pie as possible & then take a piece of that pie.....Here's the thing though...Rage is in the rare position where they could make their own pie...& have the whole thing....where they really could go in themselves, rent out the venue, choose their own ticket prices, choose who they want involved & who they don't & given the popularity of the band, they wouldn't really have to even advertise beyond their website & maybe just let the local rock station know....uh....this is really the internet age, the rest of the work is done for you. The band would sellout the show either way, why does somebody else need to be cut in on the action? The role of the promoter is to advertise the show & take risk so that the band is not at risk of losing money. But with a band that will sellout with no advertising....where's the risk? Where's the need for somebody to advertise the show? There is none......

Why can't Rage promote their own shows, charge $35 & make their own pie that will also be friendly to their fans? Simple answer....greed & they don't care. It's easier to take the huge payday & look the other way than it is to do the right thing.

Just another day of business as usual in the music industry.


Tim said...

I wouldn't rip apart RAGE for the ticket prices.

You're forgetting the police force that needs to be staffed to keep the peace, direct traffic, etc. The roadies, the sound system, the lighting, the promotional bits. That also all costs money, even if the band just does a rental with a local sound company.

That pie gets cut up into many smaller pieces. Like all of those other people out there actually working the show. They've got to eat too.

Calvin said...

RATM should lower their ticket prices. They don't need roadies or sound crew. They can do all that themselves. Even if you're playing to tens of thousands, you don't need high tech lighting or super hi-fi sound equipment. Besides, that's not what they're about

If I've heard correctly, they've played to anarchist squatter communes, and I'm pretty sure they arranged that independently.

You're right, RATM can arrange, set up, promote, and play concerts totally independently. And it's not like they wouldn't get help from friends of the band. They'd help set up and stuff. Besides, it would be way cooler to go to a Rage Against the Machine concert where they set everything up, wires are strewn about, the amps are buzzing and humming, and the lighting consists of those industrial lights you get at hardware stores.