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Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped Hardcover – June 1, 2011
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Reading this book won't make you any happier about spending four hundred bucks to go to a rock show but you'll understand how it happened and who's to blame. --Bill Flanagan, author Evening's Empire, A&R
If you wonder why you're paying ten times as much for overblown, cross-promoted spectacles that are one-tenth as satisfying as the rock and roll of your youth, you need to read this book. -- Steve Silberman, editor, Wired magazine
For anyone who's ever suffered rock concert sticker shock -- and we all have -- Dean Budnick and Josh Baron's Ticket Masters is the best seat in the house to the show behind the show. --Fred Goodman, author Fortune's Fool and The Mansion on the Hill
Dean Budnick and Josh Baron brilliantly chronicle the storied history of ticketing, providing a front row seat to the back room drama. A must-read for any music business enthusiast. --Shirley Halperin, Music Editor, The Hollywood Reporter
When community meets commerce, things gets complicated. In Ticket Masters, Josh Baron and Dean Budnick take you behind the box office and explain the real reasons a good seat costs so damn much. --Alan Light, former Editor-in-Chief, Vibe and Spin
About the Author
Josh Baron is the editor-in-chief of Relix magazine, a music-based publication where he has been on staff for more than a decade. Baron also contributes to a variety of media outlets including New York City-based radio station WFUV where he serves as a music reviewer. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
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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.