Concert Promoters to Cut Ticket Prices After Sluggish 2010

4:18 PM PST 12/26/2010 by Kimberly Nordyke
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Rihanna

Many hope to avoid another year in which the likes of Rihanna and Christina Aguilera canceled shows amid reports of weak ticket sales.

After a disappointing year for the concert business, some promoters are planning to cut prices next year, hoping to lure back fans who stayed home in droves in 2010, the Associated Press reported.

Among those scrapping dates or entire tours amid reports of sluggish ticket sales were Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Lilith Fair, the Eagles, Jonas Brothers, American Idol and Limp Bizkit.

Despite the sluggish economy, managers and promoters believed fans would keep paying for the one or two concerts they see on average each year and raised prices for 2010; instead, many stayed home.

In fact, concert attendance fell 12 percent in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period a year ago, according to trade magazine Pollstar.

Meanwhile, North American concert ticket prices rose from an average $26 in 1996 to a peak of $67 in 2008, an increase four times faster than inflation (that's not including ticket fees such as "order processing" and "convenience," which can add up to $10 or more to the final purchase price).

Now, some promoters are saying they've learned their lesson and intend to cut prices next year, though they are aiming to sell more T-shirts and other merchandise to make up for lost revenue.

ZZ Top, for one, expects to set prices below the 2010 average of $55. Some tickets will go for as little as $10.

"We'll find other ways to make money," said the band's manager, Carl Stubner.

That doesn't mean all acts will be cheap -- not even classic rockers Cheap Trick, whose tickets for 2011 are selling for around $80 with fees. Fans of hot performers including Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga also shouldn't expect to get much of a break.

Neil Diamond, who's continuing his comeback tour in New Zealand in February, said he'd like to bring ticket prices down but can't because of the size of his production.

"As the shows get bigger, the expenses get bigger, so it's got to be translated somehow to the ticket price," he said. "If I just used the guitar it'd be a lot simpler, but then I'd have to put 50 people out of work."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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