It’s a disaster.

And it’s hiding in plain sight. All you’ve got to do is go to their site and see what’s available, your jaw will drop.

Enthralled with the ancient British rockers, the mainstream press has completely dropped the ball on this story. So busy reporting last weekend’s club gig, the sycophantic reporters refuse to do any…reporting. To see that the bottom just dropped out of the Stones business.

Yes, go to Rolling Stones

And click to “Get Tickets.”

Then pull up May 3rd’s gig at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, America’s number two market, home to more poseurs than anywhere but the Cote d’Azur.

First you’ll be stunned how seamlessly AXS works. We’ve been told for eons that Ticketmaster is an unbeatable champion. But AXS is faster, easier and just an all-around better experience.

So pick the May 3rd gig. If you can’t navigate to this page, stop reading this now, you’re too ignorant to get the points I’m going to be making anyway.

Select 2 seats. Don’t allow for splits. There are frequently single seats available in good sections for the most desirable gigs.

Select “Best seat at any price level.”

Then click on “Find Tickets.”


You can sit right down front!

But it gets better!

You can still get 8 seats together in desirable sections!

Which means…

Sales are horrific.

It’s even worse for the May 20th gig. You can still get 8 seats together right down front!

How did this happen?


Let me tell you how this works. AEG pays the Stones whether they sell out or they don’t, whether anybody shows up or the hall is empty.

This is a far cry from the way business was done in the years the Stones became the “World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band.”

Used to be there was a guarantee, and then a split after break even.

But then Michael Cohl revolutionized the business.

And then Bob Sillerman rolled up the promoters and the acts had a field day, raping big time promoters for huge guarantees.

And the small shows got squeezed out, only the big ones counted in the mind of the public. And the Internet burgeoned. And suddenly, scalping became rampant. Even via the eBay company StubHub, never mind by individuals speculating.

And the game was rigged. There were so many pre-sales and holdbacks that demand seemed to outstrip supply in all cases. So resale prices went through the roof!

And until 2008, everybody was loaded with cash, the rich still are, they want to go to the show not to see it, but to say they were there.

And Mick Jagger is pissed these people have more money than he does. He wants to fly private and vacation without the hoi polloi, so he needs to rip you off, he needs to get all that money!

That’s what the inflated ticket prices are all about. Making sure scalpers don’t get the markup.

But this time around, prices are so damn high the public is balking, which surprises even me, because this truly looks like the last tour. But what we’ve learned here is the mania surrounding recent Stones shows has been created by the press, there’s just not that much demand, people cared more about Miley Cyrus and Beanie Babies. Yes, parents care more about their kids than decrepit rockers.

The initial shows last fall did well. Because of the mainstream press around the marketing angle of fifty years…

But just like the Cream comeback was an event in London and a dud in New York City, the bloom is off the rose, there’s no story, people just don’t care.

Do they care for $100?

A lot more.

Then again, the Stones have been doing weak business for eons. You could always get a ticket.

So where does this leave us?

In the land of Kid Rock. Where everybody scales back, where we have a reset, where even the execs take less.

Because what once was is no longer.

The Stones have jumped the shark.

And that means most of the other classic rock acts have too.

Furthermore, if you think the Stones are phenomenal in concert, you haven’t seen them, or are used to the Grateful Dead. They lock on occasionally, otherwise, it’s rough.

So if you’re against paperless ticketing, you’re a weasel. That’s what delivered $600 tickets, fear that the scalpers would take too much of the profit.

And if you’re against airline style variable pricing, you’re part of the problem too. Because if we had such a system, AEG could lower the price and sell out. But now they can’t.

Oh, they’ll find some way to fill the hall. The biggest stars paper, from Springsteen to Kenny Chesney.

And a loss is in the offing, unless the Stones give back.

But they won’t.

But maybe they will. Dainty dropped out because he couldn’t come up with the money. Maybe if AEG does a great job they’ll get a better, profitable deal in the rest of the world.

Yes, at some point, everybody drops out. The deal becomes too expensive. Not only for the promoters, but the public.

But this is what income inequality has wrought. Acts pissed that record sales have dropped have raised ticket prices so high the public has now cried UNCLE!



Visit the archive


If you would like to subscribe to the LefsetzLetter

Category: Music, Weekend

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “Stones Tickets? Disaster”

  1. [...] What the hell is going on with the Rolling Stones shows? Tickets still available?  (TBP) [...]

  2. gms777 says:

    For as much as people mock the Grateful Dead (like the author above) not only do they remain deeply beloved, unlike the Stones, but they also created a business model that new bands have been imitating for about 20 years.

    Some years ago Peters or Waterman of “In Search of Excellence” fame said, “Is it asking too much of a company to love its customers?” Whatever one thinks of Jerry Garcia, he did love his fans. They loved him back. Does anyone love Mick Jagger? Respect, yes. Admire, yes. Love, no.

  3. BennyProfane says:

    Jeez, how old are you? The Stones jumped the shark? Really? THEY’RE OLD! Really really old. Like 70 years old old. Who in their right mind, with all of the musical entertainment choices out there, new bands coming on the scene every week, would spend any good money to go see these really old guys run through a set of songs you have heard maybe a MILLION times? Oh, wait, they’re dragging Mick Taylor out of some pub to do the tour, that should add a little spark to this thing. He’s only 64. (Yes, cue Mr. McCartney’s favorite little ditty from Peppers) Btw, have you seen how, ahem, large he has become? Go to his wiki page. It’s not pretty.
    Also, think of it this way. If they’re that old, maybe the audience isn’t showing up in big numbers because they’re, well,……….. dead, right? At least nearly disabled at home taking a lot of naps and watching a lot of TV.

  4. A says:

    Give them credit: the Stones discovered a formula and milked it for what it was worth. There are (were) highly skilled rock musicians who provided much better output, but they never found ‘the formula’ for profit that Mick and company did.

    Even today, these wrinkled-rockers continue to re-package the same old, tired material and people continue to buy it (or at least download it).

    They might be considered by some to be the ‘World’s Greatest Rock Band”, and they did produce some good tunes, but they make up less than 1% of my rock collection.

  5. Gonzop says:

    “And Mick Jagger is pissed these people have more money than he does. He wants to fly private and vacation without the hoi polloi, so he needs to rip you off, he needs to get all that money!”

    great post Barry could not agree more. Creativity fades along with drugs tolerance. You look like shit. Not easy to be an ageing rockstar. So they go for money for luxury comfort and maintenance of the girlfriend who was only born for their 10th album . 180 degrees from the roaring Sixties. Among the silly bubbles of our time if that one could burst (tickets) that would be a great start.

    Mike, take a Southwest flight to Phoenix and go golfing with Alice Cooper. You’re out

    • The Window Washer says:

      by Bob Lefsetz

      Barry’s good but not that good. Bob’s the man when it comes to music.

  6. The Window Washer says:

    “But this is what income inequality has wrought.”
    “So where does this leave us?
    In the land of Kid Rock. Where everybody scales back, where we have a reset, where even the execs take less.”

    I’m considering buying tickets to Kid Rock for employee’s which is something I’ve only done for a small local fundraising concert before. You look like an idiot if you take everyone to a show and give them crappy tickets and a working class budget just doesn’t get the team to a show. If I took everyone to a Stones show they’d just ask that I give them the money it cost next time.

  7. makeyourownmoney says:

    In the past you would search the promoters site and it would look like all the tickets were sold (but to who?). Maybe it is just that the tickets are typically in the secondary market by now with the price jacked up but still waiting to be purchased by the end user. Maybe the promoters are just doing it in house now looking for some of that margin.

  8. MikeNYC says:

    TD Arena in Boston, first show, Wednesday. These came up when I searched for Gold package, whatever that is:

    16 – 15
    Gold Hot Seat Package
    Ticket Price
    US $1,200.00 x 2
    Price Details
    US $2,400.00
    (This is basically five rows up just in front of the stage, overlooking the Tongue Pit (?). Pretty good seats)

    Be a cold day in hell, Mick……

  9. Clem Stone says:

    Well, hello, they haven’t ever surpassed Let It Bleed and I was a teenager then. Do the math, I’m an old man now and have absolutely no interest in seeing Keith Richards drag out the same tired stoned out schtick.

  10. ottnott says:

    Concise. Well-structured. Data-based. Logical. Interesting.

    Wishful thinking.

  11. Chad says:

    One of your most quotable posts ever. My favorite:

    “If you can’t navigate to this page, stop reading this now, you’re too ignorant to get the points I’m going to be making anyway.”

    I wonder if the overpriced ticket problem is starting to happen with everyone? SAVOR, a microbrew event, which has been hosted in DC for 5 years is in NYC this year and hasn’t sold out yet. In DC it sells out immediately, but tickets are still on sale in NYC. Even the private brewery salons are mostly all available (worth the extra $30). Is it the ticket price (DC = $100-130 or NYC $175-195)? Or, do New Yorkers not care about great microbrews (and food) as much as DCers?

  12. Biffah Bacon says:

    Sure makes me respect Henry Rollins and Black Flag even more.

    The voice of Infiniti.

  13. dyrwolf says:

    Dead always charged a reasonable price. I paid from $6 to $30 to see them over the years and am certain if Garcia had lived healthy to Mick’s age, they would still be filling stadiums at $60-$100 a head.

  14. bear_in_mind says:

    Hey Barry,

    Thank you for sharing the megaphone with Mr. Lefsetz! Another solid read. I wholeheartedly agree with everything Bob said. I’d like to believe otherwise, but all the evidence I’ve observed indicates the Stones have indeed “jumped the shark.” Sad to see.

    I sure miss the late, great Bill Graham. Some had an axe to grind with him over ticket pricing, but those prices were chump-change compared to what so many artists and venues are asking today.

    One thing you can’t deny about Graham, though, was that he could produce one helluva good show for the money! The Day on the Green events he created were some of the best concerts for the money I ever attended. Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the same stage? Oh yeah. J. Geils Band, UFO, Thin Lizzy, Nazareth, Journey? Check!

    It may be coincidental, but my recollection is that the advent of “gold circle” and “premium” seating seemed to arrive on the scene a few years after Graham’s death in 1991.

    I’ve pretty much refused to pay premium price for shows, as it’s pretty rare they live up to the hype any more. Nowadays, once prices begin getting north of $60, I generally try to find either smaller, alternate venues or bands. There’s still lots of value options out there. You can find some great bands still kicking butt at state fairs or wineries, but you obviously have to be a bit selective.

    If you get the chance to see Leonard Cohen’s current tour, do it. Saw him about 6 years ago and he was essentially going through the motions. But this go ’round, he has a stellar band backing him up and they practically levitate him above the stage — and it shows in his nearly three-hour performance.

    Another artist who can still produce is Bonnie Raitt. She toured with Mavis Staples, whose voice is sadly shot except for studio work, but Bonnie absolutely killed it.

  15. Frwip says:

    Acts pissed that record sales have dropped have raised ticket prices so high the public has now cried UNCLE!

    Mmm, no. The public has shrugged its collective shoulders and decided to move on to better (and more affordable) things…

  16. [...] just days ago as if the public was finally ready to give the Stones a wide berth. As comedian Bob Lefsetz noted in his Lefsetz Letter, large blocks of seats for opening night in LA remained unsold just two days before the show. He [...]

  17. TheInterest says:

    I wonder if there’s more to this. I’ve noticed this too recently at a Bon Jovi concert in our town. Richie Sanbora quit the band and even before then ticket sales sucked. I got $9 (half-off) plus fees for upper balcony tickets and then the wife and I moved to a doorway seat on the side of the stage down low to see (and hear) the concert.

    There were lots and lots of tickets available. But guess what? The show started an hour late and the place (15,000 seats) were filled. How did that happen?

    My guess is like you say before, the guarantee. (Now in this case Richie Sanbora quitting might nix the deal.) I wonder if the stadium guaranteed so much revenue. And since some money is better than no money, they decided to fill the house with discount or promotional seats. The lights/heat, etc, are already paid, so you might as well fill them and get beer sales. Plus, in our case, the fees were more than the ticket price. So guess where the fees went too?

    Is there a similar deal with the Staples Center?

  18. Andy Fixmer says:

    Rolling Stones Tickets Gather Moss as $600 Seats for Sale

    The Rolling Stones are finding out: you can’t always get what you want.

    With the group’s “50 and Counting” tour kicking off in Los Angeles on May 3, pairs of $600 floor seats were still available yesterday for Staples Center arena, based on the sales website of Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc., the Staples owner and promoter of the Rolling Stones tour.

    “To anyone not working in investment banking, these are extremely expensive tickets,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in- chief of Pollstar, a concert-industry magazine.

    To fill Staples Center, AEG has begun lowering prices. More $85 tickets are being made available, the band said on April 30 at Those were the only tickets sold out for the May 3 show, according to the AEG website.

    “By the time the show starts, they’ll fill every seat at the arena,” Bongiovanni said in a phone interview. “It just won’t be with people who paid $600 a seat.”

  19. seth1066 says:

    New Adventures of Old Christine – Rolling Stones