In a concert industry plagued with sky-high ticket prices and a
slumping economy, Clear Channel Entertainment has taken
unprecedented measures to fill amphitheaters.
In addition to reducing certain tickets to ten dollars,
including some for Ozzfest, the concert-promotion giant has asked
big-name acts to drop their guarantees for this summer’s tours.
Peter Gabriel reportedly agreed to do it — he’s now getting
$300,000 per show, compared with the $600,000 he asked for last
year. The average ticket price for his show dropped from ninety-one
to forty-three dollars.
“The majority of artists understand that this is for their
benefit and their fans,” says Dave Lucas, co-CEO of Clear Channel’s
music division. “In the end, if we have more people in our venue,
we make more money, and so does the artist.”
It’s a major shift for a company that has a reputation for
guaranteeing big money to superstar touring artists — and trying
to drive out competition in the process. But some aren’t sure the
shift is actually taking place. “They’re showing one example of
lucidity [Peter Gabriel], which is wonderful,” says promoter Barry
Fey, of House of Blues Concerts in Denver. “But I don’t see any
guarantees going down. I don’t see a trend.”
Why is it important to fill the venues, regardless of ticket
revenue? Because fans will pay for highly profitable parking,
popcorn and beer. Clear Channel promoters often give away large
blocks of tickets to poor-selling shows — though they don’t
officially acknowledge this practice.
“They do it a lot,” says Doc McGhee, manager of Kiss. “A
promoter can say, ‘I’d rather make sure the kid gets in for nothing
and buys merchandise.’ And the band doesn’t share it. It’ll affect
artists. It’s not a good business model.”