Top positive review
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Five stars for information and detail...2 1/2 for readability.
on June 14, 2011
This is the first truly comprehensive look at the history of the billion dollar concert ticketing industry, and should deservedly be the first go-to book for anybody ever doing work on the subject.
I worked in the ticket industry for about 13 years, so I've seen most of the changes the author describes. Stub Hub, the now-ubiqutous ticket marketplace, used to call our office years ago and explain what a great idea they had about a national format - and we laughed, and laughed.
Most importantly, though, the stories Budnick and Baron tell happened the way they tell it. I can speak to their credibility, at least as far as their stories on Stub Hub, Tickets Now, and other ticket brokers.
No question they put in every bit of detail they could get their hands on. That is one of the flaws of the book, that they put in so much that it's sometimes difficult to tell what facts are most important, and where the reader's focus should really be. This book takes some work - it's not a beach read. You have to be prepared to pay attention, read things again, and then re-read. There is a lot of business discussion, and dollar figures, and other small details that require a lot of the reader's attention.
A big flaw is the lack of specific ticket prices. Only a few times do the authors actually say what a concert costs, and since the entire book is on the notion that the public is getting 'scalped,' it's hard to see exactly HOW, without seeing the increase in price.
I know that the Rolling Stones, for example, charged $60 for their best field seats for their 1997 tour - and $450 in 2005. Awful, right? But even though the Rolling Stones are a major part of the book, the authors never use any specific ticket prices - they talk about fan club prices, but not tickets. I wish the authors had used more specific price examples to both horrify and educate the reader about the much higher prices they are now paying. And, the impact of the Internet - where ticket broker prices suddenly became public knowledge - isn't highlighted quite well enough.
But as far as what the author's include, it really shows how distant the idea of concerts has gotten from the "old days" when it was about the music. Now, concerts are just one more product that companies provide as a way to get a captive audience that they can then sell other products too. It will make a reader very cynical. The stories about the Grateful Dead's mail-order ticket system, and Pearl Jam's lawsuit (although they aren't the heroes they presented themselves to be) against Ticketmaster are among the most interesting, well-detailed sections.
So, the book is very detailed and infomative, but often hard to follow and requires very close attention. But I can speak to the credibility of at least some of it, so I think the rest of it is equally accurate.