Thursday, September 7, 2017

U2 Tickets At A Discount | Lefsetz Letter

Granted it’s Buffalo, but…

Check out the prices:

Stubhub – U2

Not only the ones on the side, hover your mouse over the loge, the greenish/gold sections, where the tickets are so cheap, for the best seats in the house, your jaw will drop.

Yes, you can stand on the floor, but if you’re in the loge, you’ve got a better viewing angle.

As for the floor, you can stand there for $27!! (It’s even cheaper in some parts of the loge!)

So what is going on here?

1. It’s a school night. And I’m not sure any act is immune, except for maybe the absolute hottest, Beyonce and Taylor Swift. Hell, I’m not sure any male act could do as good business, at least not without star support.

2. It’s Buffalo. Turns out U2 can play stadia in the metropoli, the biggest markets, but outside of them..? Especially when it comes to older acts, people would rather overpay to be up close and personal, as opposed to being far away, just being in the building is not enough when you’re fifty, which most fans of U2 are.

3. U2 is not as big as they say they are, never mind as big as they think they are. They haven’t had a hit for years and they’ve got the bad blood of the Apple thing going on. It takes a long time to forget. Hell, fans have finally forgotten with Metallica, but the band spent years away from the market, playing overseas, if at all, and they put out a double album of new material that was well-received by their fans. Turns out U2 went back to the well too many times. Think about this, U2, the everyman band, does a classic album and does less business than a supposedly niche metal band. But contrary to conventional wisdom, U2 is not for everybody. And once you start playing entire LPs at a show you’re an oldies act, no one expects you to have a hit again, this was a gross mistake, the band should not have gone out to play stadiums after failing to go clean in every arena the last time around.

4. Forget the people bitching that they can’t sit in the front row for face value. Ten percent of the audience is ALWAYS gonna bitch. If you play to them, you’re screwed. True fans know the game. That unless you’re an insider, your chance of getting a good seat is close to zip. That’s what’s got me scratching my head with this Taylor Swift fiasco… She’s not gonna take the credit card money for pre-sales? She’s not gonna do any pre-sales at all? This isn’t about getting good tickets in the hands of real fans, it’s about commerce, plain and simple, utilizing the ignorant and uninformed to do your dirty work, stream your video so you can trumpet broken stream/sales records that no one really cares about. Wait until all these people boosting find out they’re closed out, then the blowback is really gonna begin.

5. Brokers are never gonna go. Because promoters like them. They buy inventory right up front, providing cash and obviating risk to the promoter.

6. People speculate with tickets all the time, but being a broker is a profession. When the promoter and the act say a show is sold out, oftentimes it’s not. So you buy extra tickets and get stuck with them. But you only do this a couple of times before you stop.

7. It’s the acts that get hurt, not the brokers. The brokers make enough margin early on, with the good seats, that they can take a loss later down the line, they don’t have to win on every ticket. But when the public finds out your tickets are going for less than ten bucks, good luck trying to get them to pony up in advance next time.

8. Despite all the hype about the on-sale date, the savvy are now waiting until the last minute. Or at least overpaying for great seats when they want to. Used to be you’d show up at the gig just before curtain when extras were released, now you just wait until a day before the show and see what demand really looks like.

9. We need a better system. But acts love the shenanigans. U2 is being paid by Live Nation, they don’t care about each individual show.

10. The manager has to be concerned with the longevity of the act. You’ve got to give the illusion that the band is still on top. U2 would have been better off with a severe underplay, theatres, then buzz would have been amazing in every city. Instead, focused on setting box office records, making it about the money, they’ve hurt their long term prospects.


Everybody knows all this. Everybody knows about StubHub and brokers and pre-sales, except for the young and ignorant referenced above, but you learn. In other words, it’s the internet that’s gonna finally break the cone of silence, opaque curtain, manipulative antics of the music business. Transparency is coming. What are tickets really worth?

We’re gonna find out.


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