From this weekend's New York Times, Ben Sisario covers the growing trend of large concert promoters offering special perks and souvenirs to help justify the prices of VIP tickets to this summer's hot tours.
The article's centerpiece: Bon Jovi fans paid $1,875 each for a luxury event package that includes a leather bag, a "catered meal," and a front row seat in a logo-embossed folding chair. You get to keep the chair. When you think about it, this is awesome if you're the promoter: your audience pays you for the privilege of clearing folding chairs off their field at the end of a stadium gig.
I've written before about the power of variable pricing. It puts more profit into the hands of artists instead of into the pockets of scalpers. Set aside any bitterness you might have against large concert promoters. It's not about whether Live Nation or AEG Live can justify charging $2,000 for a concert ticket. It's about rising audience expectation about what they're going to get for their money, even if you're only talking about a $10 or $15 cover charge.
If you're creating custom merch for each gig, or for each circuit of your never-ending tour, you're creating added value for your fans. If you're creating memorable experiences by hanging out at the bar before or after your gig, fans are much more likely to remember how you made sure they had fun. (Though, after nine bottles of Jager, John's fans might not remember.)
[photo credit: Laser cut folding chairs, under CC]