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!

(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: (removed)

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:  (removed)

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…

Also, see: Concert promoters get reality check

5 Responses to The Strange Case Of Maroon 5 »»


Comments

  1. Comment by Paul Rappaport | 2007/11/02 at 11:16:37

    It’s as if the entire industry has had a giant lobotomy. I am constantly amazed at the stupidity going on out there. To think an act can sell big tickets just based on airplay and sales is a very old mistake–one that wasn’t made often when the business was smarter some years ago. Anyone who actually knows how to do this for a living will tell you that it’s better to play small, sell out, and even make your ticket the toughest thing to get in town. That’s how acts are built–from the bottom up, little by little. Oh yeah, one more thing, the act has to be entertaining and put on a great show so that fans will always return and bring new ones with them.

    Back in the day acts toured like crazy. They learned their craft on the road and that’s why a lot of them can still sell tickets. With the advent of MTV and other instant roads to stardom, a lot of bands started taking short cuts and they never took the time to really learn how to "earn" an audience.

    Of course, hit records are instant gratification but that doesn’t equal paying to see an act live–that’s a different art form. Maroon 5 is relatively a new band and they have done some very smart things (the man behind them is a friend, and I don’t mind telling you, a very smart one a that) but this kind of grabbing too big too fast can kill an act. I submit the reason it was done is because Live Nation is a public company not showing profit and they HAVE TO SELL TICKETS, AND A LOT OF THEM! These decisions were not made in name of how to correctly build an act. It would have served Maroon 5 AND Live Nation better to have indeed, moved the show to the Fillmore, but leave it at the one show. That way the buzz would have been insane and radio stations giving away tickets would have seemed like they were giving away gold! Everyone in town would remember how hard it was to get tickets and how many people actually couldn’t get in! Yes, that is one of our oldest magic secrets–that way, when the band RETURNS to town there is EVEN MORE OF A DEMAND.

    How is it that so many have forgotten the tried and true business models that have served us for so many years? This isn’t rocket science folks–it’s book one, page one stuff.

    Paul Rappaport

  2. Comment by cakrm | 2007/11/02 at 11:16:53

    How come this phenomenon of non-sellout sellouts gets no publicity?! It’s the scalpers who make these "sell outs".

    Springsteen opened his tour in Hartford on October 2. For weeks, all the articles/publicity for the show said it was sold out. Yet tickets were available the day of the show. And outside the venue there were literally 100s of people looking to unload tickets. And lots of scalpers who thought they were offering a bargain of nosebleed seats at $95 face value. I got a great seat for $30 45 minutes before showtime. And if I had wanted to wait it out another 30 minutes I’m positive I would have paid $10 or less.

    This was the same story when Bruce was in Hartford 4 years ago (tickets were going for $5 for that one). Ditto for the Stones a couple years ago. And I know from talking to friends that it’s the same all over for them and Madonna and whomever else you want to mention. Why bother with Ticketmaster and fees when you can get tickets for a fraction of the price?

  3. Comment by Chas Patrizia | 2007/11/02 at 11:17:11

    Bob…

    This story was in our free local weekly paper this week:
    http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2007/10/25/Cover-Eoverload-E.rtf.aspx
    Very apropos.

    Chas Patrizia | Director of Client Services-MusicToday

  4. Comment by Steve Lukather | 2007/11/02 at 11:17:34

    Dear Bob,

    Man.. Its a bitch out there in the touring-music biz world in general. NO ONE knows the right thing to do or even the right places to play. When you have a one stop "promoter’ that wields all power and no soul and looks at the bottom line quarterly they dont give a fuck about maroon 5 or anyone else. I remember the day when every territory had its GUY! We were all friends. The greats that KNEW THEIR market. Not everyone does the same in EVERY market! That’s why the biz was better and everyone won, most of the time and when one "of the guys-our promoter pals" took a beating, we went back and tried to make it up. They were friends who took risks and loved the music and the players that made the music! Manangers were on the road HANGING with the rec. co. guys ( see Jerry Aldini cirica sat night live 1978 "Go" haha) … not some corporate leeches.
    It’s like any other copororate scam. The BOTTOM LINE. Collateral damage is like war. Innocent people get hurt or die. In the case of a good band that has 2 records out playing arenas is VERY risky. Could kill them in the end. Being "hip" or not you gotta deliver time after time. My band spends all its time EVERYWHERE but the USA. We developed a great fan base of muso’s young and old and some old school folks who like to "remember" BUT we play the right size places for the right markets 30 years later. I make a great living! We mean nothing in the USA. It’s a shame that obvious fake talent can sell out ONCE maybe twice but 30 years later what do they do? You gotta find your market and deliver at a price that makes sense and dollars for all. It ain’t 1985. Tickets cost a fortune to most. One or 2 hit tunes ain’t worth 80 bucks. I’d pay 200 bucks to see springsteen, Whata fucking GREAT band, Van Halen, the Eagles, Genesis, Gabriel, Pink Floyd You NEVER get let down… BUT Kiddie teen acts can do it ONCE maybe twice but look at billboard 5 years ago-10 years ago etc… TOO many people make records, most of which are pop crap played by baby musicians or machines and or fixed to the point of laughability. Christ my Mom knows what pro tools is! hahaha

    Now, not to say say that technology is bad given the hands of Peter Gabriel or Radiohead or the REALLY great creative bands that USE it not abuse it. It’s a fucked up world. Any fucking kid that can play power chords can make a record and be on TV and get platinum records. But what happens when they turn 25 and realize they are NOT musicians at all. Just a Halloween costume that is irrelevant come Nov 1st. They ain’t good enough to even be a side man. Hell all I EVER wanted to be was a working musician my whole life. A studio musician, like most people even know what that is!

    I got my dream even if you think I suck. hell *I* think I suck. haha BUT I practice to suck that bad! Almost every day. LOL

    There ARE those of us that may not ever be hip but make a great living playing as well as we can and traveling the world to play for people who LIKE our music and musicianship. Plenty enough for me for to groove and have a few houses and not worry about money even after a heinous divorce years ago.

    I would play in a fucking club for a few grand a night plus beer if that’s all I had left. I am a MUSICIAN! I’ts all I know.

    In the USA that’s what they think of me. My fucking rhythm section is Lee Sklar, Simon Phillips, Greg Phillinganes and my sorry ass. Between us maybe 2-3000 records played on over the last 35 years, BIG ones in EVERY style! I am not sad. I think you get some wisdom at 50. You stop trying to be the "big dick in town" the fastest gun in the west. Old people are cool. We should hang with them more. They have ALOT of wisom. I am now one. hahahaha

    Who cares? Right? I just turned 50 last week, had a new baby daughter, 2 awesome grown up kids, my son Trevor is a killer player and songwriter and passionate about music old and new..

    Does HE go to every show in town? Not on HIS money. My contacts and friends maybe. haha

    OK, what I am trying to say is there is uTube world, a free download world, there is a MOST fucked up "major label" fuck up. The pendulum is about to swing and swing back hard. GREAT musicians will come back. Not fodder for the TMZ generation, the "fuck it I wanna be a star" but I have no chops cause I didn’t PRACTICE for 10 fucking years before I ever got NEAR a real studio!

    The kids of today can make the difference, just like politics, but that’s scary too. Ever ask a 20 year old what’s goin on in the world? Have they read a newspaper, real ones not "rolling shit" or all the rest of the so called music fodder rags. REAL news, the world, THEIR world. The one THEY will inherit. The book 1984 was 20 years too late.

    I don’t know what the fuck I am trying to say but bitching like schoolgirls to rich fucks that just laugh at these raves is like asking George W. how he feels about clean air and water and food in 50 years. He don’t give a shit. He made HIS money and so did his satanic friends.

    I still practice, see the world. TRY and make good music with great players and yeah, I do fucking well for a a so called has been. At least I got over 30 years in and have played with almost every fucking great artist of the last 40 years in EVERY style.

    Hey, what is hip? Ask Tower of Power. Hey, shouldn’t THEY be in the Rock n roll hall of fame before the Dave Clark 5?

    People, stop the prozac-gack-potificatiing-buttplug mentality.

    I remember seeing Roger Linn show us the FIRST drum machine EVER! He is a dear old friend, used to be Leon Russell’s guitar player and engineer. Jeff Porcaro heard it and saw it, we all were in shock. Jeff’s last words were " I am gonna put this fucking thing on my back and jump in the swimming pool so NO ONE can ever use this!"

    God Bless ya Roger, you know I love you but fuuuck.. it has made it WAY to easy for all concerned.

    God Bless us old guys that practced and thought MAYBE someday *I* can make a record but I gotta be really fucking GREAT"?

    What happened?

    Bitch as you will about all things. Country music ROCKS! Great players and singers and songs etc..

    I still love the new FOO’s record and lots of cool new artists and there IS great new music out there for fuck’s sake.

    Take the HUGE look and then really ask yourselves.. why?

    Sorry to have spewed my shit but it’s a free country..for now. Be careful, maybe not much longer.

    Luke in South America groovin


Trackbacks & Pingbacks »»

  1. Pingback by addicto | 11.05.07 « | 2007/11/05 at 12:51:19

    [...] Ourselves to Make a New Record’ Foxy Brown’s New Album Art Looks Very Familiar The Strange Case of Maroon 5 Rapper Ri [...]

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

*