I like music. I really do. The music category is easily one of the largest categories of posts on this blog, and this summer I should attend my 150th concert. I subscribe to several music magazines and have read and wrote about music for years now.
What has frustrated me in the last year however, is the growing complexity and effort needed to be a music fan, especially one who likes live music. It is bad enough that ticket prices are so expensive, but trying to find out when and where a band is playing and trying to get tickets to that show is tougher than ever.
Yes, I know I’m older and have more responsibilities than when I was 17 and all I had to worry about was catching my favorite band, but at this point, I have three ways of tracking artists, PLUS the stupid Ticketmaster emails (that come through with the listings for Seattle about once a quarter, which is really helpful when you’re living in Boston).
On top of that, scalpers have screwed up the entire ticket purchasing system so bad that you now have to consider StubHub.com, eBay, fan club pre-sales, and charity auctions. The good news is that there are more ways to get tickets than ever before. The bad news is that trying to deal with all the options will turn you into a neurotic nut job. Which one has the better tickets? Who has the best price? How much are you willing to pay?
This all came up recently in my attempt to get tickets to the June 29th Ryan Adams show at the Somerville Theater. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. so at 9:50 I logged into Ticketmaster and started checking every minute or so. At 10:00 a.m. on the dot, they started the sale. But I wasn’t able to buy two tickets. So I kept trying, figuring the system was just too busy. Eventually I tried buying just one ticket. I got something in the back row of the theater. I tried for 15 minutes, but the show eventually completely sold out and I couldn’t even get a solo ticket.
In the middle of my conniption fit during this experience, it was pointed out to me that there was an special pre-sale offer going on through iTunes (I’m not giving you the link. Go find it yourself). This REALLY pissed me off, since in addition to all my live music information that I am spoon-fed daily, I also get my weekly iTunes update and hadn’t seen anything about the promotion until that point. That, even though I have bought Ryan Adams music through iTunes and have all of his CDs ripped to my iTunes library. My first reaction was an anger usually reserved for someone severely insulting your mother. Turns out it is for his tour in the FALL, not the spring shows, including the one I was trying to buy that day. But if you pre-order the CD on iTunes, you get a pre-sale code for tickets and some unreleased tracks.
So now I’ve pre-ordered a CD that I’m going to buy a hard copy of anyway, just to get the pre-sale offer code so that when the tickets go on sale for the unscheduled show somewhere in the Boston area at some point this fall, I’ll be able to get tickets.
Right now, fighting bad weather while waiting for a random wristband sounds like good idea. It took grit back then (OK, 10 years ago), but at least everyone had a fair chance. You went to the Ticketmaster outlet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, you waited in line, they handed out numbered bracelets and you paid your money. I would have never thought I’d be pining for those days!