Indie Rockonomics

After the Sonic Youth show last week, I wanted to write a post with this title, and by coincidence Coolfer also has a post on concert tickets using the term Rockonomics. The stuff that Coolfer links to is very interesting, in particular the PowerPoint presentation on Alan Krueger’s website. Whereas Krueger focusses on the ticket prices for mainstream superstars, such as Madonna, The Rolling Stones etc, Sonic Youth is, of course a different category, but the question remains, what the right pricing for concert tickets should be. As posted some time ago, I was lucky to get tickets for the Sonic Youth show in Paris last week. As things go, I actually bought two tickets, but in the end everybody who I thought would come with me, had more or less good reasons why they couldn’t come. So I had one ticket to sell. The box-office price for the tickets was 35 euros, which is actually quite expensive for a show at the Nouveau Casino. I checked eBay and tickets were selling for over 100 euros. Selling on eBay required too much organisation on my side (call me lazy), so I went to the show to sell the ticket on the street. When I arrived, there was literally no market, as even the scalpers had not been able to find any tickets to sell. I didn’t want to sell to the scalpers, as in this particular case I felt I could do without the middle-man. Eventually one of the scalpers bought a pair of tickets for 50 euros each off someone else and immediately tried to re-sell them for 100 euros… I ended up selling my spare ticket for 60 euros to a young guy, who was really happy about that and actually thanked me for selling to him… So the question is, was that the right price? In hindsight I have tried to establish some kind of rational reasoning for setting the price:

  • Selling the ticket at cost would have been ridiculous, and people would have probably thought I was selling a fake.
  • Selling the ticket over the buying price of the scalpers justified (to me) not going through them in the first place.
  • Selling the ticket for less than the scalpers (I think they actually sold them for 80 rather than 100) proved (to whoever) that I was not purely trying to maximize my profits
  • Selling the ticket to a young guy (who seemed to be a serious fan) seemed like the right thing to do

So, when Indie-Ethos mixes with economics the explanations get pretty vague… Another Rockonomic aspect of the show was, that T-Shirts were pretty cheap (15 euros). And how was the show? I’m not exactly a SY expert, but I thought it was really good. They really have a lot of class, and when Thurston Moore announces, that the next song was something they had written in 1981 you cannot help but be impressed by the longevity and how they have maintained their independance.