Posted by: nickgerlich | September 29, 2007

Rock It Science

Roger Daltry better thank his lucky stars that his wish didn’t come true. Back in 1965, Daltry sang, “I hope I die before I get old.”

At the time, the rock-n-roll rebellion was in full swing, and people were living for the moment. For many their only concern was where they would find their next hit…and I don’t mean songs.

Daltry and colleagues seriously under-estimated the future economic impact of their fans. If they thought that their long-haired listeners would spend life in an ear-ringing purple haze waiting to fade away, they had it all wrong. Baby Boomers, you see, eventually cut their hair, got jobs, and went on to make a ton of money.

In other words, reefer madness turned into portfolio mania. They traded their tie-dyes for neckties, and Woodstock for the stock market.

Keith RichardsThe result is that aging rock stars on parade are now leading the pack when it comes to tour revenues. MSNBC.com reports that entertainers like The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Springsteen, and Elton John have hit gold with tours raking in well over $100 million in some cases.

And Elton John doesn’t even need to hit the road, because he shares a theater at Caesar’s Palace with Celine Dion. Tickets for his October performances there range from $131 to $295. Must be nice. Have a penthouse suite, and come down every evening for a few hours to play tunes. Those platform shoes, feather boas, and funky glasses are just part of the act. Ch-ching.

So how do these bands get away with charging outrageous ticket prices? Very simple. Because they can. The fan base for these bands is in its peak income earning years. And they are likely to bring their kids with them to the shows as well. If I can convince my wife to buy into the Elton John idea, we’d be paying over $500 for the four of us.

Which makes those $46 tickets I recently bought to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Lubbock this November pale by comparison. What have those guys been doing wrong? (FWIW, ticket brokers are selling them for $200 on eBay.)

I can see a time coming soon when the surviving artists of the 60s and 70s will move into their own theaters (but hopefully not in Branson), and/or stage limited tours in only major venues. Life on the road is tough. When you have a cult-like following like Jimmy Buffett (and a restaurant chain to manage), you pick a few dates and let the ticket brokers work out the details.

As for me, I love seeing these aging stars. I’ve seen Styx and REO Speedwagon twice this decade, along with Foreigner, Ted Nugent, CSN&Y, Chicago, and The Who. The tickets were worth every dollar I paid. And believe me, there’s nothing funnier than watching a bunch of middle-aged women rush the stage at the Chicago concert.

We’re a little tamer now, if not better off. Just turn up the volume. I can’t hear so well any more.

Dr “I Hope I Get Old Before I Die” Gerlich

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