Concert promoter Live Nation is instituting No Service Charge Wednesdays beginning on June 3rd. They will eliminate the hated service charges on more than 5 million lawn seats at various amphitheater shows across the country.
Live Nation is not a company that normally does these things out of the kindness of their corporate heart, so it's fair to say that the downturn in concert attendance (see my post of May 12th) has something to do with this promotion. The promotion can be a smoke-screen however, since it's already been indicated to industry analysts that they'll make up for the shortfall by raising concession prices. The good thing for concert goers is that you don't have to buy a beer at the event the way you are forced to normally pay their exorbitant extra fees. With service charges, you don't go if you don't pay. With concessions, you just stay hungry or thirsty until later.
When asked the exact reason why the company was dropping their fees, a spokesman said, "Our June 3rd No Fee Wednesdays promotion is the biggest national promotion in the history of the company, so we think this is a great start. We encourage fans to take advantage of the huge savings that day. If they do, it will send a strong message to the music industry about how strongly consumers feel about ticket fees."
The last line is particularly interesting since they are the only area of the music industry that imposes extra service charges and fees. Does that mean that they got the message?
This is a good start that doesn't go far enough. It's only for one day a week, it's only for the cheap seats, and it still doesn't address ticket prices that have gotten out of hand. The best thing that could happen is for concert goers to ignore this promotion and drive concert attendance down during the lucrative summer months. Check back in August to see how we're doing.