Comment of the Moment: Time for Corporate Sponsorships?
Sponsored by Nobody beer
"This Note's For You" music video frame
Once again -- a few folks have had some very strong opinions on tickets for seeing Neil Young on the upcoming Twisted Road concert tour.
One modest proposal suggested the time had come for Neil to consider corporate sponsorships for his tours.
Naturally, that's a pretty breathtaking concept given Neil Young's stance on the subject as encapsulated in the 1988 song "This Note's For You". The video for the song "This Note's For You," was a very pointed punch at corporate sponsorship in the music industry. The song and video came about the time that Eric Clapton went on tour sponsored by Budweieser and featured banners around the stage for beer products.
Ironically, the video for "This Note's For You" was banned by MTV, purportedly for its portrayal of Michael Jackson going up in flames in a recreation of a recent accident he had expereinced. More bizarrely, MTV turned around and voted it as the "Video of the Year" at the 1988 MTV Music Video Awards.
From a Neil Young interview in the Village Voice Rock and Roll Quarterly, Winter 1989 by Jimmy McDonough:
Then there's that wonderfully mean-spirited video for "This Note's for You." It gets banned by MTV, and MTV, in an obvious attempt to stop the flood of bad publicity, reinstates the video and gives Young their "Best Video of the Year" award. Why did he accept it?
YOUNG: "I dunno - must be the Perry Como in me. I could do the hard-line Marlon Brando thing, not accept the award, give it to the Indians. But that's almost the predictable thing to do. You can't get money to make videos if MTV won't play them.
In accepting the award I thought I'd be able to make more videos and get 'em played."
So it was a business decision, albeit an unsuccessful one. "Rockin' in the Free World," Young's new video directed by Julien Temple - who also did "This Note's for You" - hasn't gotten much airplay.
"They play it once a day. So that's the fuckin' support we got."
So back to a modest proposal by Nathan Brand
I have the solution for high ticket prices, and I’m sure most of you are going to hate it.
I “never” thought I’d say this, but maybe it’s time for Neil Young to start accepting corporate sponsorship for his concert tours.
If what it has come down to is ticket prices upwards of $260 and fans being priced out of going to hear his music live, then maybe it’s time to accept this concession. Who among you wouldn’t mind paying $40 to $75 a ticket, if the concert was sponsored by, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Levi’s, Apple Computers, etc…? (Thrasher, maybe this would be good for your next poll question….) Believe me; I hate the idea of this. I still proudly use my “Sponsored By Nobody” beer cooler I bought during the Bluenotes tour, but I think this situation has hit a critical mass.
Dylan started selling his songs to commercial interests a few years back, and he generally keeps his ticket prices between $40 - $60. I know there are plenty of other gluttonous bands like The Stones and U2 that take the corporate money and still gaff their fans for everything they can get, but maybe this is a way out. Dylan basically said (paraphrasing), “FU. They are my songs and I can do what I want with them, and selling them commercially does nothing to impact their integrity.” You can swallow that line of bull, if you want, but the bottom line is he found other revenue streams and his ticket prices are lower.
Neil’s only revenue stream is his fans’ wallets. We are the de-facto corporate sponsors and the expenses are mushrooming out of control. Being a Neil Young fan is becoming like an exclusive club for rich people. (The price points for Archives…! He should have given most of that stuff away on Neilyoung.com.) It’s NPR without the government subsidies. Screw it! Sells the songs to Madison Ave and Wall St. Go out and find some suitable sponsorship for your tours and bring tickets prices back down under a $100. (Under $75 would be better.)
I know how I would feel the first time I saw a sponsorship banner for “Starbucks” or “Verizon” at one of his shows, but it wouldn’t be any worse than I feel now when paying up to $260 a ticket. I would just need to learn to separate the money from the music, but at least this time, it wouldn’t be "all" my money.
- Nathan Brand
More on Neil Young Ticket Woes.