Apr 112013


Kid Rock recently announced his plans for his summer tour with ZZ Top. All tickets will be $20 and the first 2 rows will not be for sale because, in a move originally pioneered by Jesus “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” Christ, Kid Rock wants to be able to surprise those folks of humble means in the back of the crowd with an upgrade to the best seats in the house.

The Kid said the reason for these prices is because “Athletes and musicians make astronomical amounts of money… 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.”

First, let’s dispense with a few elephants in the room:

  • Kid Rock’s music bites it.
  • Kid Rock is perhaps the highest (or second highest if you count Ted Nugent) profile Republican rocker, but he is also pro-choice and supports gay rights, and in the article he comes off like a right leaning moderate. I’m sure his political views rub many people the wrong way; many of them bug me too. But let’s keep the focus of this discussion on the economics issues here, and the motivation behind them.

Kid Rock’s persona has always been of the incorrigible Budweiser-drinking, high school delinquent with a heart of gold. Is he actually putting his money where his mouth is? Or is this just a clever yet well worn business move in which he gets to use the carefully crafted brand that he has developed over the years to increase sales through volume? I think it’s probably a little of both and even if he is doing this for the most cynical reasons, the fact remains that Kid Rock fans get to see him for what I consider to be a very fair ticket price. If this works, do you think it might cause others to lower their ticket prices as well? I asked this a while ago, but who would you shell out the most to see live? Who seems like a good value at $20?



  8 Responses to “Kid Rock: Man of the People or Cynical Yet Canny Businessman?”

  1. 2000 Man

    Kid Rock has to pay me more than that, and I’d like the back rows reserved for people like me. But then, I’m not answering your question, am I?

    Considering how The Stones are doing this tour (there are 2000 dollar seats!), I have to say that I’d almost go see Kid Rock for 20 bucks, because he probably has a good band that rips off some Stones riffs, right? The guy is definitely right. People pay way too much to be entertained, but America values entertainment above all else, so we pay more for that.

    Anymore, I’m not paying over 20 bucks for a place bigger than my house to see music in. The sound in the place the Cavs play in is absolutely awful unless you’re on the floor, and I’d rather see someone in a bar sized place. For 20 bucks I’d see The Dirtbombs any day (they’ll be less than that), and I’d pay that in a second to see The Flamin’ Groovies. In fact, I want to go to that show in Melbourne SO BAD!

  2. Now that you mention it, that Melbourne show would be the PERFECT setting to kick off the Right Minded Music Caucus. Hell, we could probably increase our ranks if we wanted to have some sort of membership drive. Let me bounce this off Funoka and Trigmogigmo.

  3. I think this is a great move, and if Kid’s Man of the People stance is partially motivated by canny business thinking, then Power to the Canny Businesspeople!

    I go to few concerts by national acts, and I can’t remember the last time I saw a show at a venue that held more than 2500 people (and the last time I went to a show at a venue that size was probably 10 years since the previous time). I was never a big concertgoer when I was young, but the whole process of paying more money than I feel I can count on any artist delivering and then feeling highly judgmental during the artist’s set is a pain. It reflects poorly on me, for instance, to sit there and nitpick at a favorite artist’s choice of guitar or shirt.

    I go to many baseball games. I’ve got a 17-game plan at about $25/ticket. That’s well worth my money. I get to watch unplanned events in real time with my own eyes (ie, I’m not so far away from the action that I’m dependent on a big screen projecting the artists on stage). I get to sit outside and talk to friends and surrounding strangers, high-fiving and even hugging a spectacular moments. I pay that much to see a show at a little theater and get dirty looks if I try to talk to a friend during a boring song, dirty looks from some dickhead posting a running report of the setlist from his smartphone to his Facebook page!

    I think I paid about $60/ticket to see Elvis Costello at the Tower in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. FANTASTIC! I’m talking about a favorite artist who’s really pissed me off a couple of times live, but my baseball team pisses me off too. I think I paid about the same amount to sit in the front row of the Nick Lowe concert at the Keswick in Glenside, PA last year. ASTOUNDING! That was a healthy Roy Halladay-worthy starting performance, filled with warmth and love and humor. That was totally worth my money.

    I’ve told this story before, but in the early ’80s I saw Van Morrison at my city’s classic outdoor summer concert venue. Tickets must have been $20 or less, because I was making miminum wage at a bookstore job back then. I’d heard that Morrison was an erratic, testy performer, but the show I saw was amazing. About 5 to 8 years ago I saw that Morrison was coming to an Atlantic City casino. I’d never seen a casino show other than an Oldies show with EPG, which was cheap. I wanted to buy tickets for my wife’s birthday. It was $200/seat, for fat, fucking, tempestuous Van Morrison, who hadn’t sniffed a hit song in 35 years! That was way too much to pay. I’d pay $100 to see the Stones play the 2500-seat Tower Theater. Maybe. No, I’d probably blow that off too. David Bowie takes care of himself and acts his age. Maybe I’d pay $100/ticket to take my wife to see him.

    In short, all of these artists should be charging no more than $60/ticket. I would also prefer that rock bands play a week-long residency at a small theater rather than travel from city to city in places that are too big to enjoy the band. Stick the Stones in Radio City Music Hall or a casino for a month and let people come to them over time. Stick lesser artists in a small club for 3 shows in a row and charge $50 at the door. Let the bands mix up their sets a bit and actually play music. No blow-up lips and penises. No video monitors.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    “Stick the Stones in Radio City Music Hall or a casino for a month and let people come to them over time.”

    What you are describing is how Prince has been doing the rock show thing for a while now. Seems common-sensical to me.

    Acts I’d pay more than $50 for: I’d pay $50+ to see various amazing shows I’ve already seen, again, but that’s impossible. I guess I’d pay more than $50 to see the Stones, McCartney, Zeez, P-Funk from the front 20 rows. Prince, Ray Davies, decent seats. The Upper Crust, if their show included, like, a sit-down banquet with fine china. A reunited Left Banke would get $50+ of my money. I’d pay $50 for a Fred Wesley show into the wee hours, now that I know how unbelievably awesome that cat is live.

    $100+ for: a reunited XTC, reunited Easybeats.

    Otherwise, it’s $20 or less for me, across the board.

  5. cliff sovinsanity

    The most I ever forked over for a show was The Stones (85$ for the Steel Wheels tour) and The Police (72$ for the reunion tour). I don’t regret those in anyway.
    I went back and looked at my old ticket stubs from the 80’s and 90’s. I was completely floored how much prices have gone up in just the last 8-10 years. I managed to pay less than 25$ to see major acts like Lou Reed, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, U2, REM, Prince and the first Lollapolooza. How have the economics changed so much that we’re stuck with 45$ cheap seats that don’t include service charges or convenience fees.

    I would pay at least 100$ to see a reunited Replacements show, but I would probably end up disappointed.

  6. I have a cup full of old concert tickets and it was less than $20 to see the Who and the Clash in 1982 and $35 for Live Aid USA. That seems like a fortune for a concert ticket and it was for charity no less!. The numbers have definitely changed. I think I paid $98 for Springsteen last summer and I went to that Police reunion. Both worth it.
    I already paid $20 to see Son Volt in a club this summer (http://www.utphilly.com/event/228293-son-volt-philadelphia/ ) and I keep my eye on outdoor shows in the summer. I’d pay $40 these days for practically anyone as a night out with friends.

  7. I paid $325 a ticket for Rolling Stones in 2008 and it was worth every penny. Don’t think I would do it again though. $100 is my new “top price” for any concert.

    $20 to see ZZ Top play an hour long set in the daylight and tailgate all day? I think that would work for me.

    Kid Rock has some balls. He has made a move to replace non-US-owned Budweiser with his own beer (made in Detroit) at venues, he has re-introduced Bob Seger, Peter Wolf and other 70’s artists to a new audience, toured with Run DMC when they could not get arrested.

    He was on Howard Stern in December or January and made a lot of sense. He knows he is one lucky dude. He is surprisingly humble. He also puts a lot of energy into trying to help his fans, his city (Detroit) etc. He also raised his son on his own.

    I like that he held off on making his music available on iTunes and sold some CDs for his label (and had a hit CD) He wanted people to hear the whole CD, not just download one song.

    If this works, then Ticketmaster is screwed, so are the promoters. So are the artists like The Eagles and Roger Waters who charge $300 for seats.

    I’d like to see his show sell out across the USA (good for ZZ Top as well)

    PS – I’d like to see him get a shave and a haircut too, but that is asking too much

  8. While not a fan of Kid Rock’s music, I love this idea.I do go to my share of concerts, occasionally some pretty expensive like the Costello show that Mr. Mod mentioned, but the bulk of the shows I see are about $15. I think he did the math and figured that he could milk a small audience of dedicated Kid Rock fans, or lower the prices, make the party bigger and possibly get more buzz.

    I think he’s right. While his party appeal seems similar to Jimmy Buffett, the demographic target audience is probably a lot younger and a lot less well off. Smart business move to try to get them into the KR habit.

    Despite what I’ve said, I don’t think of it as a cynical ploy but a gesture from the heart that also could work in his favor.

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