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Money is Tight, Music is Expensive

daisyrock.jpgI don't care what Ben Bernanke says: America is in a recession. Anyone who works a real job bringing home an average wage can tell you that. Is the economy in trouble? Yes. Are times terrible? No, but they could get worse. Clearly the first things that go during an economic downturn are luxury items like new cars, vacations...and music. I don't just mean the physical purchase of recorded music either. I am talking about fans going to concerts and buying merchandise. When you have to choose between  some groceries or a new Motley Crue shirt, I'm pretty sure you're going to go with milk and eggs. That being said - ticket prices continue to skyrocket to record levels. Yes, I'll be the first to lay down big bucks for an artist I've never seen before, but the show better be damn good. I refuse to pay top dollar for bands I can see every few years. When a diehard fan like me says "enough!" the music industry better realize it needs to brace for bad weather ahead.

The thing is, the recording industry has been in crisis for over a decade now. After the Metallica/Napster debacle, the major labels missed a real chance to investigate ways to make money off electronic music. People inherently know how to steal.  MP3 players and iTunes helped curb some illegal downloading, but I know that as the recession gets worse music theft will rise. All that will do is hurt people like you and me who pay for music.

What else happens when people steal music? Musicians obviously lose money and then rely more on touring to survive. Ticket prices go up for all sorts of reasons: the artists need more money. The venues need more money to pay for events and staffing. Merch prices go up too. It's all a vicious circle.

I wonder if the music instrument industry is suffering? I don't consider instruments a luxury item - more of an educational necessity. Sure, instruments of all kinds are expensive, but learning music is an important part of a child's development. Studying music is just as important for adults.

Many of you know I am taking bass lessons. I like to think things are progressing nicely. Am I good? Not yet. Will I be? Perhaps with time. I know one thing: taking lessons and unlocking some of the mystery surrounding how to actually play a bass is fascinating. I love going to Guitar Center now and looking at the expensive guitars. There are so many different shapes and styles to choose from - with varying price ranges.

Guitar Center just introduced the Slash Les Paul.  From what I gather there are four options, ranging from a signed, custom aged model to an Epiphone signature. The signed one costs 10 thousand bucks - the Epiphone is a thousand. Being of average income, I can't imagine ever dropping 10 thousand on a guitar - but this one does come with a certificate of authenticity signed by Slash himself. I can only imagine what such a quality instrument would sound like...

Back here on planet reality, there are a lot of guitar manufacturers spreading their wings and adding innovative style to traditional instruments. I am a big fan of Daisy Rock. Better known as the guitar company for girls, Daisy Rock makes quality instruments at the right weight and proportions for a woman's body. It doesn't hurt that most are also pink with sparkles. While browsing online I also found a Traben Bootsy in the shape of a star! Two grand is out of my league plus I think it would be hard to play an odd shaped instrument. Still, if you've got the chops I bet you'd look pretty cool on stage.

I always like when Glam musicians play odd shaped instruments. Blackie Lawless and Bobby Dall both play big basses with harsh edges. In fact, Bobby's pointy green bass is his trademark. He's been playing that bass for twenty years now -so I guess instruments in odd shapes isn't a new thing, maybe just more common. Definitely more expensive.

Recently, I've come across quite a few message board posts about ticket prices "back in the day." These musical soothsayers speak of the days gone by when you could catch a concert - featuring a band like Van Halen - for under ten bucks. Tell me: what's the cheapest you ever paid to see an arena band?

Reader Comments (31)

In Australia there is no such thing as a CHEAP Concert.

WASP charged just under $100 AUD and Whitesnake charged $126 AUD. I guess the prices no matter how fluctuated they me be to the true metal fan in Australia it does not realy matter as we are just greatful to see these guys on our own shore that we will pay whatever it takes.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBillyKiss
Great article Allyson..Cheapest I ever paid for a concert was $10.00 for kiss in 1984..$9.00 for Ozzy is '83 and in '85 Moltey Crue on the Theatre of pain tour I paid $12.00 and Y&T was the opening how times have changed =(
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
$15 for Aerosmith w/Ted Nugent (Early '86)
$15 for Van Halen 5150 tour w/BTO ('86)
$16.50 for Bon Jovi w/Cinderella ('86)

Highest I've paid.....I've easily clipped the $100 mark to see KISS several times and I shelled out $150 so my wife could see Jimmy Buffett, she flew solo on that one!

Heavy Metal Addiction
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRhodeislandrock
I paid $ 3 (30,000 rupiah) for Skid Row concert last month in Bandung, Indonesia.. :D

April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobby Permata
$10 for Poison/Cinderella in 2006 (it was actually buy one, get one free at $19.99...which averages out to $10)
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJT
Wow. Like Billy said, I pay $100+ to get into a club show if it's an international act. I paid $150 for Motorhead in a club. Great night, it was, too. I sure wish I could have seen Whitesnake :0(

And for the record, I'd go hungry if I had to, to get to a show I wanted to see. But, like Billy said, too, here in AU, the tours are so rare, that you get to them, no matter what.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
When I saw Aero and Motley, and again when I saw Def Leppard/Styx/Foreigner... all I "paid" was one pint of blood, each. No, seriously. :)
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie
Hrm...cheapest for a! This was the Poison Hollyweird tour where Bret Michaels told the audience that if they presented their stubs for the Manassas Show at Hershey Park, they could get their lawn seats at Hershey for free. But I'd gotten free passes anyways for Manassas ;) . Highest would be the last time I saw TSO--$63 after Ticketmonster (Ticketmaster) fees. Which is why, when TSO comes to Richmond, I tell husband it's my birthday present. :)

I'd feel better about paying those kinds of prices if my bands would come closer to my home! By the time we figure in hotel, food, gas and then the ticket price (plus the obligatory t-shirt), it's just too expensive. Plus, I don't get paid time off so if the show is during the week, I can't afford to take a day or two to travel.

Rant over... ;)

April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChessie
I paid $9 for Triumph and Foghat in 1983, my first concert.It was at Notre Dame in South Bend ,In. A place that no longer has any concerts. That is another problem with music now none of the big acts go to smaller arenas it is all big shed summer tours, rarely do I see a show in the winter or at a smaller venue.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScott
I paid $7.50 for the KISS Dynasty concert in 1979 (still have the stub). I think Ozzy in 1980 was about $9.00.
The last KISS concert I attended in the ealry '00's was $88.00. What a difference!
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJAT
My friend Mark saw Led Zeppelin for $5.00, had fifth row seats and they play for 3 hours. That was 1978 and he still has the stub.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Back in the day of course - Slaughter at McNichols Arena in Denver for $11.00 - and I sat 2nd row on the floor!! Aww the days of this.... McNichols Arena is now a parking lot..I am soo over paying the big bucks for concerts - but what am I to do - stay home...HELL NO!!! I don't mind paying more to the artists - I just hate paying to the scalpers - who truly have the best seats - which is bullshit!! Even fan club seats suck! So how do we conquer this nonsense????? Come on Mr. Sixx - get the "music back to the bands" and "the tickets back to the fans" (a quote made by my BFF)!!!!!!!

April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHollpass
I saw Warrant/Trixter/Firehouse in 1991 for $10. If you got your tickets real early they were only $8 and on the day of the show I think it went up to $12. No extra fees either back then. This was when all 3 of these bands were real hot, so it was such a good value. I most recently paid about $30 to see Bon Jovi/Daughtry. The cheapest advertised tix were $50 but they ended up selling some for like $20 (plus almost $10 in fees) for club seats behind the stage. They were still good seats and I got to go for a lot cheaper.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
$7.50 for AC/DC on their Back In Black tour in Philly sticks out in my mind. I believe it was Brian Johnson's second night with the band playing live following the death of Bon Scott. (And they kicked major ass might I add!)I've seen a ton of bands for $10 or under, but I'm also 44 years old and have been going to concerts since I was 14...8>)
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary
This past summer late July right after Rocklahoma, Skid Row and Firehouse did a free show here in Lapeer Michigan it was great after traveling all the way to Oklahoma and shelling out all the cash to see them a few weeks prior.

Back in the day you could buy your ticket and t-shirt for about $30, times have changed.

The most I have ever paid is my Rocklahome tickets for last year and this year, they were around $350.

Great article, you spot on with this one!!!!!!!!!!
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterreptilblvd
When I bought my first Aerosmith tickets in 2006, they were $150 each. My mum spent the next few months telling me the most she ever paid to see any band was, coincidentally, Aerosmith for $30 in 1976. Aerosmith/Motley Crue on the Route of All Evil Tour set me back $200 each. I've had good luck otherwise, though. I saw Motley Crue for $25 on the Carnival of Sins tour and Vince's solo tour last summer for $35.

I love Daisy Rock, by the by. I've got a purple Pixie acoustic/electric from them and I'm dying to get that pink Rock Candy.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRia
My Friend saw Winger in Helsinki for 17 euros ( about 25 $ ) in 2006 =D. Now thats cheap! In my opinnion the record labels should cut the record prices in half to like 10 euros ( i dunno how much in dollars.. propably 15$) and the concert prices to an average of 20$. All we need is someone to lead this revolution, and first in mind comes The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Mötley Crüe.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNikkeSixx
Despite the high ticket prices, basic economic principles do apply to concerts. While people did only pay $5-$10 a ticket in the late 70s and early 80s, the value of those dollars is different than the value of the dollar today.

While the Fed continues to debase our dollar by infusing more money into our system, one can see the effects of the buying power of our dollar continues to decline. Today's dollar is only worth 83¢ compared to the dollar of 2001, when George W. Bush got into office.

The declining dollar means that it takes more to buy the same thing it did x amount of years ago. While the weaken dollar boost our exports, it also makes imports more expensive. My father has a paycheck from 1977 when he first began working at the place he works now and was making $4.25 and hour. While he makes more money today, the value is similar to the money in 1977.

If there was not such a demand for concerts, then venues would be forced to lower ticket prices or lose money. I believe there is much more to examine in the price of a ticket. I hate that it costs so much, which is a reason I haven't attended more concerts. Hopefully, we don't devalue our dollar until it's more expensive to print them than they are actually worth.
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
and speaking of rising concert prices....CAN'T WAIT to see what this upcoming Motley tour is going to cost us!
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkari
I was just complaining about high ticket prices in my blog! Bret Michaels just played in Columbus, and tickets were $35! I just bought tickets to Poison in July and after fees and surcharges, my ticket was $60! They were also offering a special side stage or front row package for $500, and another floor package that was $200. I understand that there are special extras as part of that package, but nothing worth $500! Poison tours every summer. It blows my mind that they feel the need to charge so much for tickets to their shows. With the way things are going with the economy, I'll be lucky if I can afford to buy gas to get to the Poison show! My budget is being stretched to the limits because of high gas prices, high ticket prices, and trying to save for my rock 'n roll wedding next summer. :(

As for the cheapest arena show I've may have been Jackyl in their prime when they played a free show at Hara Arena in Dayton. Other than that, I think I've always paid $15 or more to see an arena show. My brother paid $13.50 to see Motley Crue on the Theater of Pain tour, and I'm sure it was worth every cent!

PS - Kudos to you for referring to musical instuments as an "educational necessity." I'm a huge advocate for supporting music in schools. If it wasn't for learning to play a musical instrument, I would have been lost in school. I've been playing violin since 6th grade, and I'm so thankful for being blessed with what little musical talent I have. It enriches lives, young and old. I firmly believe that. And good for you for taking bass lessons! You're never too old to learn. Good luck! :)

Hey ReptilBlvd - I drove from Columbus, OH to Lapeer, MI to see that Skid Row show this past summer! :)
April 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

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