Editorial: Brain Dead, And Made Of Money?

It’s clear to me that Phish is leaving money on the table. Don’t get me wrong, this table will have a lot of money on it at the end of the month. Seven sold out shows and let’s say they sell 60% capacity of the Alpine shows and 75% of Burgettstown. That’s still 170,864 tickets at 49.50/each and you’ve got $8,457,768.00. If Phish raised the ticket prices by $20 (to $69.50) for the best 30% seats in the house, they would immediately net an additional 1. Million. Dollars!

A million dollars, and that’s just for ten shows. If they play 40 shows this year, that would be four million.

I think $49.50 is completely reasonable for a band that has already netted 1,183 shows through the past 25 years. Sure, ticket prices may have been as low as $27.50 in the Summer of 2000. With inflation, that would only be about $34 in 2008. Ticket prices have gone up a little…but look at a few more examples of bands playing arenas and amphitheaters: AC/DC: $89.50, Nickelback: $65/55/46.50, The Eagles: $185.50/125/75/45

I hope this streak of one-price ticketing continues – maybe it will and maybe it won’t. For now, I’m proud that my favorite band still has a manageable ticket price despite their ability to sell out arenas and amphitheaters nationwide. If these four guys can stay out of jail, I can once again hold my head high when questioned about the return of Phish at the next extended family get-together.

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22 Responses

  1. the twenty doallr standard is gone.


    you can still pay more for front row, if you want….
    but I do love that all the tickets are the same price.

  2. As with some of the other folks who have left comments, I agree – if it’s worth $100 to you, it’s worth $100 to you. I paid $199+ for each night of the Gov’t Mule @ the Hammerstein shows for “VIP” access. And in my mind, it was absolutely worth it. As they (Gov’t Mule) generally have VERY low ticket prices for ‘regular’ shows, I had absolutely no qualms about paying extra for the NYE shows. Hell the hotel was more than $199/night.

    I’d pay $100 to see the Dead, if they were playing closer to where I live. It’s the travel expenses that are stopping me (flight + hotel + food/taxi’s etc).

    I think Phish will more than make up for (lower) ticket cost on merch sales. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was actually a factor when they set the ticket prices.

  3. “We haven’t been around long enough for the nostalgia trip to set in. I can’t wait until it does cause maybe we will charge 100 bucks for a ticket. Nostalgia is where all the money is at.”

    Tongue-in-cheek joke from Trevor of Tea Leaf Green

  4. “Nickelback: $65/55/46.50” – is that Canadian dollars? I think even Nickelback is astounded that they’re still around. Their fans know that they’ve been releasing the same album for almost 10 years now, right?

  5. Perhaps this is part of Obama’s stimulus plan? If the band tours more at a reasonable rate then more people can follow said band and thus boost the local economies through travel, gas, hotels, food, etc….

  6. Here’s my wildly speculative and likely inaccurate hypothesis. Phish operate with a bottom-up system on ticket prices. They set what they believe to be a fair ticket price for their services and apply that one price to all seats at every stop of the tour. The Dead, I’m guessing, are more top-down. I’d be willing to bet when the core four got together with management to discuss a tour, they threw out some target net figures and then worked backward to see what tickets would have to be to make that. Just a guess (it’s probably a bit of both), but I sure know where the money I won’t be spending on Dead tour this spring will go in the summer…

  7. I don’t want to give Phish a hard time here but…I most certainly do NOT consider $49.50 a reasonably priced concert ticket. Frankly, I’m floored at the out-of-proportion increases in ticket prices over the past 20 years. This got me rooting around my old ticket stubs to find comparable shows and this is what I found:

    Phish at Great Woods July 9 1994: $21.50 (face value)
    that price adjusted for inflation (using some inflation calculation thing from the US Bureau of Labor): $30.82 (2008 price)

    Phish at MSG 12.29.98: face value: $28.00
    adjusted for inflation: $36.49 (2008 price)

    I think those are eye-opening numbers right there.

    I give Phish a lot of credit for keeping their ticket prices on the lower end of the spectrum throughout their career, but overall the prices of arena shows are ridiculous these days. Especially when I have consistently seen fantastic shows in bars and clubs for $5 – $15 for years now (which, frankly, are usually much better than most arena shows. But that’s another discussion…).

  8. I am happy tickets are sort of cheap, Phish could sell them for twice as much!

    One message for all the kids, DO NOT USE TICKETS NOW!

  9. Hey, who whouldn’t pay $100 to see the world’s second greatest Grateful Dead cover band (DSO does it better)? Me and hopefully alot of other Heads. I can’t believe Phil let this happen or that Warren would be a part of it. Jerry needs to smack Bobby upside the head when they meet again. In the current economic situation, that I would hope the new politically charged Dead are aware of, it’s reprehinsible of them to do this to the workingman’s head!!

  10. The one thing that you have to remember when considering the increase in ticket sales is that bands are not selling albums like they used to. It used to be that touring was in support of an album. Now touring has become a critical way for a band to make money.

    For me, compared to 5-10 years ago, I spend nowhere near as much money on albums. I’d never spend $14.99 on an album, and I certainly don’t buy a few albums a week anymore. Most of that is because MP3s are so easily transferable…

    All of this to say, $49.50 per show is totally reasonable. Especially when the demand for the shows means they could easily charge 50% more for most of those venues…

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