The Strange Case Of Maroon 5

 What do the Stones, the Police, Barbra Streisand and Maroon 5 have in common? THEY DON’T SELL OUT!

There’s a quiet backlash going on in the concert world. It appears concert tickets ARE price sensitive. Unless you’re unbelievably hot RIGHT NOW! Concerts are now more akin to movies. You want to see what’s new, what’s happening, right after it opens, so you can tell and discuss with all your buddies. Re-open "Knocked Up" today, and it plays to almost no one. Sure, there are DVDs… But that’s another story, turns out the audience is really only interested in HIT DVDs.

Of course there are smaller bands selling out clubs, sometimes theatres, and rabid viewers of the arcane on NetFlix. But both the music and movie businesses are predicated on the BIG NUMBERS! The BLOCKBUSTERS! And it appears that it’s almost impossible to establish one with staying power in the music world. Maybe John Mayer. Black Eyed Peas? I don’t think there’s a ton of legs left, certainly based on will.i.am’s sales numbers.

How could this happen? Wasn’t Maroon 5 ubiquitous on radio? Didn’t their new album come out with a flourish? Weren’t they on the covers of both the hip and the unhip magazines?

What IS hip these days? Turns out mainstream media doesn’t ask that question. Instead of pondering what the magazine stands for, "Rolling Stone" just covers what’s popular that minute, sacrificing its own credibility in the process, because there’s not A SINGLE MUSIC FAN WHO BELIEVES MAROON 5 IS HIP!

How do you make a lasting band?

You don’t focus on hit singles. Nine Inch Nails never had a hit. Of course, they got some alternative play, and decent MTV coverage, back when MTV played music, but the booming of Trent’s band was based on audience reaction, the culture. It was bottom up, not top down. The powers-that-be, mainstream media, the major labels, believe in top down, hype to a reaction as opposed to grow from roots. And what we’ve got is some momentary hits, that reach fewer and fewer people, and acts that last a season, as long as said hits are on the radio.

When there’s mania, enhanced by scalpers, fanned by the media, gigs sell out at stratospheric prices. No mania, people don’t want to come. Not to be ripped off. And if you don’t think most shows are a rip-off, then you don’t pay for tickets.

But Maroon 5 is not charging an excessive price. The top ticket is $56 (before service charges) at Staples. Bottom line, not enough people want to see this act in this barn. This is a theatre act at best. This is a DEVELOPING ACT! In the old days, a manager would be concerned about his act’s career. Growing it, so that it paid dividends for years. Now, it’s straight to the arenas. Fine, maybe, if the band’s at a peak. But that peak is so short these days.

Gigs should be full, should sell out, otherwise there’s a bad vibe. Those who DO attend get a sour taste in their mouths. They want to brag to their buddies that they went! If no one wants to go, where’s the badge of honor?

It’s not like Maroon 5 is selling no records… their new album has sold 1,360,669 copies in 23 weeks. Then again, only 15,356 were sold LAST WEEK! Unlike Nickelback, whose album is not fading, the new Maroon 5 album was front-loaded. The buzz is gone. No buzz, no ticket sales. But maybe album sales are not really what’s driving ticket sales anymore. Maybe it’s got more to do with credibility, and a personal investment in the band.

You’ve got to go back to Pearl Jam. They don’t do the numbers of even this last Maroon 5 album. But they do great business on the road. Because tickets are cheap. But mostly, because people believe in the band, OVER FIFTEEN YEARS IN! Eddie Vedder bugs me. But that’s irrelevant. I’m not forced to see him everywhere. The band has held back from carpet bomb publicity, because it only ALIENATES people. Pearl Jam is for its fans. Shouldn’t your act be for its fans? Not NBC, "Us", TMZ or even Clear Channel!

This whole business is a circle jerk. Squeezing out dollars for dinosaurs. Not only the classic acts on the road who are not being replaced, but the people running this business. They need their money so much that they start with the formula, the profit, and work their way back. You’ve got to start with the MUSIC!

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(Note: The gig was Monday night, so the links in the following e-mail no longer work…)

Subject: more of the ticketing debacle of Maroon 5 shows here in Denver

if you print or use this, please don’t use my name

ok, so first the show scheduled for Monday night Oct 29th at the 18,000 cap Pepsi Center sold poorly and the show was moved to Fillmore Auditorium (3500 cap) – there were enough tickets sold pre-sale to qualify this first show as "sold out". Seems that somewhat more than 3500 but less than 7000 tickets sold so Livenation decides to add a 2nd night (Tuesday Oct 30th) at the Fillmore. This show has NOT sold out, not even close by many accounts. Radio stations are running aggressive promos for ticket giveaway contests and try as hard as they might after 30 something days of announcing the 2nd show moving to the Fillmore, Maroon 5 can’t sell out the show. There are tons of GA tickets available still and if you call a certain Denver radio station, tickets can be gotten for free. Livenation has quietly been flooding the market with what seems to be tons of comp tickets to cover the rather embarrassing lack of forecasted ticket sales.

ticket prices have been reduced from the assigned seating of the Pepsi Center ranging as high as $150 for a prime close up front seat at Pepsi Center (on Stubhub.com and similar sites 2 months ago) to now $46 for a GA ticket to the 2nd show at Fillmore on Tuesday night

here’s the part I think you’ll LOVE:

scalpers that anticipated a huge demand apparently bought up tons of tickets to the Maroon 5 Pepsi Center show early on when tickets first went on sale long before it was moved to a smaller venue. Because of utter lack of demand (from high ticket pricing to start with), scalpers have been going to great lengths to unload the tickets they bought up by the truckload hoping to cash in. Too bad the show was then moved to the Fillmore and the demand never materialized though but apparently someone forgot to tell the scalpers:

here’s a weblink to $117 GA tickets:

www.ticketsnow.com/TicketsList.aspx?PID=541079

but, consumers aren’t stupid. A relatively easy web search on Livenation’s own website (which transfer you to Ticketmaster.com) reveals a $46 GA ticket for Tuesday’s show:

www.ticketmaster.com/event/1E003F2FAA6E7582?cce_tid=3F6C5AC403F3F3F3F3F403F3F3F3F3F3FA113F&oid=3F6C5AC403F3F3F3F3F403F3F3F3F3F3FA113F&eid=298299&brand=none&

here’s where it gets real good though. The website mechanism to purchase Maroon 5 tickets at the $46 GA price + ticketmaster fees hasn’t worked in days. Conspiracy, nah, I doubt it. I am betting they flooded the market with comps to fill the house and prevent Maroon 5 (and Livenation corporate) from looking like stooges in pricing this show the way they did in the first place and overestimating Maroon 5’s actual ability to sell tickets in the first place.

I’ll be the first person to say that Livenation locally in Denver helped at least to salvage this show and make a wise move to a smaller venue. Sadly, Livenation corporate blew this tour from the start…

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Also, see:

www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_7292264

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