An Open Letter To Neil Young On Ticket Prices For The Turnstiles
Over on the widely read Blogcritics, The Rockologist Glen Boyd has written "An Open Letter To Neil Young". In the letter, The Rockologist lays out his devotion to Neil's career that has zigged and zagged across the highway. The Rockologist was there for Neil with Tonight's The Night and On The Beach in the 70's and in the '80's with Trans and the Shocking Pinks. He writes:
I also stood by you when you courageously released 2006's Living With War, an album which would've gotten you deported back to your native Canada if the pro-Bush righties had anything to say about it. Hell, I even defended your honor right here on Blogcritics for months, when one such right-wing nut responded to my original review of that album by flaming the article with something like 500 angry messages about how releasing a record like that was somehow "anti-American."
Now comes the Chrome Dreams II tour and the associated ticket prices where The Rockologist is paying $172 to see Neil in Seattle. And this is where he draws the line.
Look, I know that some of the other big tours like The Stones, The Police, and McCartney have gotten away with charging upwards of $300 a ticket, but those are bigtime stadium rock and roll extravaganzas, Neil. Somebody's gotta pay for all those explosions and lasers. Somehow, I suspect we won't be seeing any of those at your show. At least I would hope not.
I mean look, it's not like you need the money, right? If I recall correctly, there was an interview you gave around the time Living With War came out, where you said you had made enough money where you didn't really care if the records sold or not, as long as you were able to play the music that you were feeling at the time. So doesn't that rule also apply here?
Anyway, Neil, like I said before I've always stood by you, and I guess I'll stand by you now too. I'm really looking forward to hearing the new album, and I can't wait for the concert - although at $172 a ticket, there better be one hell of a setlist. How about the entire second side of On The Beach for starters? Sound good to you?
Even some of the Rusties are feeling the pain as Mark "looking thru a travelers glass" explains in the post Hello and goodbye: "I won't be attending Neil's concert here in LA for a few simple reasons."
But it turns out that the above criticism is fairly mild when compared to the satirical post Neil Young Returns to St. Louis; Fans Secure Second Mortgages to Buy Tickets by Eric Whelchel:
"Still other fans are finding creative ways to support their Neil Young habits. “My wife has agreed to cut our three children’s meals down to two a day, and my wife, the little angel, is stopping her medication for a few weeks. Lupus isn’t that serious, right?” said Jessie “Slappy” Pellegrino. “With these steps, I can afford two of the $79 middle balcony seats, and only have to shell out $22 in service charges. Plus, from the middle balcony about 50 rows back, Neil will look like a closer blur than he will for those shlubs in the upper balcony section. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with such a musical legend; there is nothing more inspiring for an audience than seeing an artistic genius through squinted eyes and binoculars.”"
The Rockologist, Mark and Eric Whelchel are not the only fans complaining about ticket prices for the turnstiles. We've received quite a few comments here at Thrasher's Wheat along the lines of how can Neil tour a song called "Ordinary People" and then charge these prices?
It's a fair question. I can only point out a few observations and not necessarily as a defense of Neil's business. First, virtually the entire music industry has imploded and been turned on its head. This we all know as CD sales have plummeted and downloading, burning and ripping are rampant. Nowadays, many musicians can support themselves only by touring and selling merchandise (although Neil clearly does not fall in this category). Those are the economics.
And then there is the ticket market itself with scalping and ticket brokers whose profits are greatest on the spread between face value and demand. Obviously, the higher the ticket face value, the more goes into Neil's pocket and the less into scalper's. Neil is playing small venues that are selling well enough that both Denver and Toronto have added shows.
Is Thrasher thrilled by the prices? I look at this way. We could be seeing Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen this Fall but have decided to forgo those concerts to see -- hopefully -- more than one show. Personally, I'd rather see Neil in a smaller, intimate setting for a higher price than a larger venue at a lower price. Supposedly, this will be a 4 hour evening (with opening act and 2 sets - one acoustic and one electric) meaning we'll hear somewhere between two and half to three hours of Neil's music). For those concerned with value, you can do the math on a price per minute.
And giving away the CD Chrome Dreams II with a ticket purchase is being generous. After all, Neil didn't have to do that if he were in it only for the money and didn't care about his fans. Also, let's not forget the numerous benefit concerts Neil has performed at for no fee such as Farm Aid and The Bridge.
Lastly, fans have finally been able to crack the inner sanctum of pre-sales and have a shot at good seats at face value. Those in the community have always been generous about re-selling tickets at face value and not trying to profit from their fellow fans. This speaks most loudly of what the spirit of Neil's music has always been about. Besides, probably anyone reading this "gets it" and really doesn't need all of this analysis. If not, we'll leave you with this quote by Franklin Greenback, an investment banker from Chesterfield, an affluent suburb of St. Louis:
“Let those bums fight it out in the upper balcony steerage section. I’ll be enjoying the show from my orchestra seat, along with the lawyers, doctors, trust funders, and other corporate VIPs, as we listen to Neil’s songs about political injustice, personal desperation, doomed junkies, and other things we’ve never experienced. After all, isn’t that what music’s all about?”"
Experiencing a living legend -- priceless. See you at the show!
- Comment of the Moment: An Open Letter To Neil Young On Ticket Prices
- The High Price of Neil
- When Art and Commerce Collide