Kid Rock

A Robin Hood pact with promoter Live Nation on ancillary coin might redefine the concert biz

Where I grew up, there were no rich people. No bankers, no rightwing titans ranting the poor were lazy and the government was taking all their hard-earned money. Some dads worked for the electric company, others sold insurance or held blue-collar jobs. The upper-middle class were doctors and lawyers. And just beneath this tier were the auto dealers. We knew who they were, because their stores all featured their names.

We were all in it together. Sure, you could be unpopular, you could be bullied, but there was no velvet rope, no class parties or junkets that you just could not afford. And when we all saw the Beatles, we picked up guitars and started to play. And money had nothing to do with it, the music and the screaming and the energy drew us in.

Music is now the province of the underclass. No one smart is going to dedicate his or her life to a musical career, they might give it a year or two after college, but then they’re going to hotfoot it to graduate school, they don’t want to be left behind.

So Kid Rock gets a hair up his ass about ticket fees. And unlike the public, he’s got power to exact change.

That’s another thing about today’s artists. They all blame someone else. “Who, me coach?” They’re slackers who believe responsibility is anathema.

But Kid Rock is different. He grew up in a middle class-family. When he supports Republicans, he thinks they’re the close-cropped, reasonable, educated men of yore. Rock’s values don’t align with the Tea Party. And first and foremost he believes in giving back (i.e., his beer and clothing company in Detroit that employ locals as opposed to exporting the jobs to Asia and crying there was no choice).

So it’s 2011 and Rock is on an arena tour and the fees on his tickets are $14.25. And that’s just too much. He wants them down to five bucks.

How does he achieve this?

Via transparency. Unlike the fans, Rock is not stupid. He knows the money doesn’t all go to Ticketmaster, there are kickbacks to buildings and promoters.

But rather than push the ball uphill, he decides to start with his own business. By lowering the price of t-shirts. Instead of the rip-off price of $35-$40, he drops them to $20-$25. His merch company had a fi t. But, as stated earlier, the artist has all the power, Rock demanded the drop. And he saw sales go up … and it got him to thinking …

So Rock and his manager had a meeting with (Live Nation’s) Michael Rapino. The essence of which was, “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” Show me where every dollar is buried and I’ll throw in my money and we’ll start fresh.

And Rapino agreed.

Took the better part of two years to come to an agreement. The wheels of change grind slowly. But now the deal’s done.

But not before Rock got another hair up his behind. Not only did he want the fee to drop to fi ve bucks, he wanted all tickets to be $20.

Huh?

Rock’s goal was to give back. To return concert-going to what it once was. A regular habit as opposed to a vacation. That’s how the business revitalizes, by getting people to the show.

But because he’s intransigent, Rock then wanted no fee at all.

So a deal was struck. If you went to Wal-Mart, where they’ve got Live Nation kiosks, you could buy a ticket for $20, including parking, with no fee. Ticketmaster picked up the vig, furthermore, more kiosks were installed to handle the demand.

So what happened?

Across the board, sales doubled or tripled from 2011. Blowing past everybody’s expectations.

Everything goes in the pot, drinks, parking, merch, Live Nation and Rock are partners. And if you think this is de rigueur, you’ve never sat in the trailer where the promoter shows you the two sets of books, his and the one he shows the act. And I’m not joking, there are truly two.

And there are a 1,000 platinum seats, not because Rock needs the money, but because he wants to combat scalpers. And season seats come out of that thousand, everything’s on the manifest. And the first two rows go unsold, they’re for upgrades for those in the back.

Sound like a good time?

You betcha!

So what happens now?

I’m not sure.

Rock has opened the door. Will anybody else go through?

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