Advance ticket hysteria is back, and this time it’s happening for gigs in smaller venues
You thought you’d never see the likes again, but it’s back. Outlandish property prices for small gaffs, increased traffic on the roads, bar tills clanging with gusto: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it most certainly is the return-ofthe-boom duck.
For the entertainment business, the real sign that the economic boom is back is advance ticket sales. Readers will remember the good old days when you gathered by your computer at 8.59am waiting for Ticketmaster to crank up its systems and put tickets on sale. By 9.29am, all the tickets were gone and people started bitching on various online forums.
There are still fast sellouts that make everyone fume, including Glastonbury and, er, Garth Brooks (we’re allowed to mention him again, right?). But it’s when you have advance ticket hoopla and hysteria for gigs in smaller venues that you know things have got a mite crazy again. Fans of Future Islands and Caribou who didn’t get in early for their Dublin shows next month will know all about this.
Look at this year’s Electric Picnic too. If you left it to August to get your ticket, you either winced as you dealt with the online touts or stayed at home and made plans for 2015. Many obviously did the latter, as family camping tickets for next year’s event are already sold out.
It’s a significant reversion in behaviour. During the past few years – as every promoter who has ever had a run of sleepless nights in the lead-up to a big concert knows all too well – people left it late to buy tickets. Folks reckoned they could leave it to the week of the show to buy a ticket or even just rock up to the venue on the night. Meanwhile, promoters sweated bullets.
But if you apply the nudge theory beloved of many behavioural economists to live events, you can see why we’re in for more advance sell outs. As fans now see every class of show at all kinds of venues selling out in advance, chances are subliminal nudges will mean they’ll start buying tickets earlier again.
This is great news for promoters, who can again
Expect to see the sold-out signs going up earlier and earlier for more shows
revert to type, get their on-sale strategies right and sit back to smoke a fat one as the money floods in. Interestingly, when ticket sales were much harder to come by, promoters didn’t do much innovating when it came to the art of promotion. Sticking a few more posters up on walls or buying additional Facebook ads is not innovation.
It’s unlikely though that this shift in ticket-buying habits will lift all boats. We live in a time of over-supply in the live music market, so not all gigs will do well. But expect to see the sold-out signs going up earlier and earlier for more shows, especially those involving acts on an upward trajectory.
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