What Would "Fan-Based" Concert Ticket Pricing Look Like?

Current poll on Billboard.com

I’ve been thinking about the results of the Billboard poll to the right a lot lately. 

Especially after reading how Live Nation  is trying to “help” concert fans.

But is their recent removal of service fees (announced on June 1st) a move to help fans or just help increase summer ticket sales?

Here’s what Live Nation told Billboard earlier this month:

Live Nation has been tackling the issue of service fees with its in-house ticketing operation launched at the beginning of this year. “We know the fan has been frustrated by the series of successive fees in the purchase process,” Live Nation Ticketing CEO Nathan Hubbard tells Billboard.biz. “There is attrition in the sales flow once you see your third page with some additional fees. The fan told us they just want to know up front how much the cost of the experience is going to be. We didn’t address that problem completely, but the first step was moving from fans paying a service fee — you might pay a shipping and handling fee, maybe a print-at-home fee, delivery fee, etc. — to consolidating it into a single up-front fee that is there as you cart your inventory.”

Does that sound like helping?

Chicago Tribune rock reporter Greg Kot  called the move “a start”.  And then the fans went further to express their thoughts and feelings in the comments.  

 Then a few days later, after Live Nation extended the “no service fees special” to also include reserved seating, Chicago Sun-Times rock reporter Jim Derogatis broke down the specific pricing.   

What do you think is a reasonable price to pay for a concert ticket?  

A few weeks back I wondered if our concert experiences are really “priceless” by asking what is the “emotional” ticket price of concerts. 

If there is an emotional value to concert tickets, why not experiment and let the fans decide how much they think concerts should cost? Why not explore concert ticket pricing system that’s similar to how certain artists have let fans determine the cost of an album? 

Online ticket auctions do this to some degree. But only after scalpers and ticket brokers have determined the pricing structure. 

So what if there was a way to allow fans to choose what they thought should be the actual cost of the concert ticket. And what if there was a way to create a ticket pricing structure that was based on combine factors of the emotional value, the market  value and what the fan was willing to pay.  Would you try it out? 

We thought  the “choose your own album price” was crazy when bands like Radiohead starting doing it.  And why does it always seem, with a few expections, that the band members themselves remain silent when ticket pricing issues are discussed.

It would also be inspiring to see more bands join in the fight to keep their fans from being scalped by taking a more active role in how the cost of their live performance impacts their fan’s wallet.  

From a promoters perspective, it seems like a prime time to experiment with different pricing options much like summer festivals are doing this year with the layaway  option.

I think this idea  of  “letting fans choose the ticket prices” should be explored just to see what we could come up with. Because with the current recession, and knowing how much people love concerts, I think a fan uprising, or corporate backlash of some sort, on companies like Live Nation might be closer than we think.

People love their concerts and if fans have to choose, the majority of  fans will stay home.

But that love and emotional need for live music will not go away. Fans will find ways to get their fix and feed their need for live music. But the question is whether or not Live Nation will be a part of  helping fans find a way to satisfy thier fix that meets their budget. Or will Live Nation continue to be a part of the problem and not a part of the solution?

And when will fans take a more active role and create a community that shows companies like Live Nation that fans are more than just expendable and entertainable pawns with bottomless wallets?  

So tell me live music fans:

If you knew where all the money went and why, (similar to Derogatis’ breakdown but a bit more detail), would you explore a “choose your own pricing” ticket pricing method?

I’ll be heading to several festivals this summer. And I’ll be sure to ask what fans think and share their responses with you too.

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