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Green Day: Price Busters

The band lowers ticket prices and one-ups Pearl Jam

Tre Cool, Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt of Green Day backstage at Madison Square Garden.
Catherine McGann/Getty Images
December 15, 1994

With ticket prices for acts like the Eagles topping $100 and Pearl Jam canceling their tour because of their fight with Ticketmaster, leave it to Green Day to come up with a solution to appease all sides of the Ticket War of '94: Charge a lower ticket price.

On Green Day's current sold-out tour of arenas and theaters, the Berkeley, Calif, band set a maximum price of $15, with most shows in the $10 to $12.50 range and a few dates going for the bargain-basement price of $7.50. Green Day manager Elliot Cahn notes it is the lowest-priced arena tour in four years, even when the additional Ticketmaster service charge of $1.75 to $3.50 is included.

"We're calling this Green Day's No Semi Tour," Cahn says with a laugh. "We use local equipment at each venue, so we have only one bus for the three guys in the band, three crew members and their personal equipment. We can charge these prices because our expenses are much lower than other bands' who play arenas."

The idea of a low-priced tour was conceived after Green Day played two sold-out arena dates earlier this fall. "After we sold 18,500 tickets at $5 apiece in Cleveland and 11,500 tickets for $7.50 in Detroit, the light bulb went off," says Cahn. "If we played multiple nights in clubs, we would have been on the road forever, and since two members [Billie Joe and Tré Cool] have pregnant wives, we didn't want to do that."

Ensuring Green Day's success was the relationship forged between their management and booking agent and Ticketmaster and its legion of business associates, the absence of which felled Pearl Jam and their own tour plans. Following Ticketmasters encouragement to accommodate Green Day, many venues and promoters settled for the lower gross at the box office as well as on T-shirt sales (the band has set a maximum T-shirt price of $15), percentages of which are their prime source of profit.

Ticketmasters willingness to cooperate has certainly raised a few eyebrows. But Green Day's booking agent, Andy Somers, who admits he was wary of using Ticketmaster at first, could only speculate as to its reasons. "I would think they could use good publicity," he says, "and I don't know how cooperative they would have been had their troubles with Pearl Jam not existed."

"The situations for Pearl Jam and Green Day are essentially the same," states Ticketmaster spokesman Larry Solters. "Both bands told us what they wanted to charge for tickets, and we came back with what we thought was a fair service charge. Pearl Jam said no, Green Day said yes."

"Everyone is cooperating and has agreed to make a little less money to keep costs down," says Somers. "Green Day are not trying to become heroes by conquering Ticketmaster. We're just doing what we think is right."

The result of Green Day's tour may be a lengthened career, says Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a trade magazine that monitors the concert industry. "This is a brilliant bit of marketing. Fans will remember the low ticket prices and stick by the band in the future."

This story is from the December 15th, 1994 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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