Kid Rock may be one of the most famous Republicans in rock & roll, but he has some surprisingly liberal views about how wealth should be divided between the classes. "Athletes and musicians make astronomical amounts of money," he tells Rolling Stone. "People get paid $100 million to throw a baseball! Shouldn't we all take less and pass some of that money onto others? Think about firefighters, teachers and policemen. We should celebrate people that are intellectually smart and trying to make this world a better place."
With that in mind, Kid Rock decided to make every ticket on his upcoming summer tour with ZZ Top and Uncle Kracker cost just $20, whether the seat is at the back of the lawn or the front section of the pavilion. "I've been meeting with Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino for years, trying to figure out how to fix the concert industry," he says. "We're all so overpaid. It's ridiculous. People stopped going to concerts because they can't afford them. The Rolling Stones are charging $650 per ticket! That just makes me speechless. I love the Stones, but I won't be attending."
After much back-and-forth, Rapino and Rock came to a deal that allowed for $20 tickets for every seat in the house. "I said to them, 'Look, I'll go in as your partner. Don't guarantee me a dime; if nobody shows up, I'll lose money.' It costs us $125,000 to show up with our crew and whatnot," he explains. "I also said, 'But I want to share beer, parking, hot dogs. Let's put the money in a pot at the end of the night and figure out, based on the numbers, what I'll get paid.' Even if it sells out, I'll take a pay cut. Fortunately, I'm able to do that."
However, the first two rows of each venue will not be sold to anybody. "I'm going to send my roadies to find people in the back of the place to sit there," Rock says. "I have big-time buddies that can get front-row seats for anything. They know the right people. Not my show, though. We don't care who you are, you can't get those seats unless we select you." In places where it's legal, rows two through 18 will be only available via paperless ticketing. Unfortunately, many states have outlawed the practice, which infuriates Rock.
"That's one of the times I'm fucking embarrassed to be a Republican," he seethes. "It's fucking Republican lawmakers passing those laws, you dumbasses. They already did it in New York and they're trying to do it in Michigan. I've even called some of those guys to try and stop it." He's also livid with Ticketmaster. "They're taking a fucking five-dollar service charge," he says. "It's 25 percent of the fucking ticket! That's fucked up, but I've beaten them up as much as I can. Then Walmart stepped in and agreed to charge just $20, and it includes parking."
Many artists secretly place their own best seats on scalping sites, but Kid Rock is being transparent about the process, too. "We're doing that with 1,000 tickets to each show," he says. "The money is going into our pocket. We're going to try and combat scalpers."
Rock realized his $20 plan could work a few years ago, when he lowered the prices of his t-shirts. "I realized it was highway robbery selling t-shirts for $40," he says. "I know what it cost to make those things. I said, 'This is ridiculous. Put up a banner that says 'Fuck the Economy! T-Shirts are $20.' My manager refused to do it until I threatened to fire him. We did it, and we made the same per cap by selling twice as many t-shirts."
On the upcoming tour, Uncle Kracker will open each show with a brief set of his hits, followed by ZZ Top and then Kid Rock. "In the summertime, I try to play the hits to make sure everyone has fun," Rock says. "From there, I do fun stuff. I might do 'Born on the Bayou' since I recently cut that with John Fogerty, or maybe 'Rock & Roll Never Forgets' since I just did some shows with Bob Seger. I also hope to play with ZZ Top. We're old friends and I'm always down for that."
Hits or not, Rock admits he has no idea whether his cut-rate plan will actually work. "I don't get nervous much in life anymore," he says, "but this one is a little nerve-racking. It could be a really rough summer if it doesn't work out. If it doesn't work out, I may have to go hide in a hole for a couple of years."
If it does work, Rock hopes other artists will copy the business model. "Who doesn't want to play to a packed house?" he asks. "We all have huge fucking egos; I don't care what anybody says. Playing to a place that's half-full sucks. I'd rather take a pay cut and play to a packed house and hopefully be able to do this for many, many more years. Then after, I have a big nest egg and I can walk away with my middle finger up."
On that note, many of Kid Rock's musical peers have been basically pointing their middle fingers at him since he campaigned for Mitt Romney last year. "People in this country just hate each other for voicing an opinion, especially in my business," he says now. "I'm like the fucking lone wolf. Look, I tend to vote Republican, but I don't like the hardcore views on either side and I'm not in bed with anybody. I'd probably be more Libertarian, but I'm a firm believer you have to pick a side. I can't be playing the middle. If you think differently, that's fine. I'd love to grab a beer and hear why you think that way."
Unlike most Republicans, Rock supports gay marriage and abortion rights. Might he endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016 if she ran against someone as socially conservative as, say, Rick Santorum? "That's a tough one," he says with a big laugh. "Jesus. I'm not letting you snake me into that. Nice try, though."