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The Steve Beauchampé Column

MUSIC PUNTERS SING THE BLUES

06-07-2006

In a draw at home sits a ticket for Queen at Stafford Bingley Hall, May 1978, cost £3.50 (still 30p more than I paid to attend the 1982 World Cup Final between Italy and West Germany in Madrid). And it cost exactly that...no booking fees, no credit card charges and I bought it from a local record shop who didn't add on a handling fee.

The band sold out two nights, 8,000 fans per night, and no doubt Freddie and the lads got all the trappings of rock and roll debauchery thrown in on their rider, with everyone involved in staging the show very well paid for their work.

28 years on and the cost of seeing 'name' artists has obviously risen considerably, paticularly in recent years, with even mildly popular established performers regularly charging in excess of £20.

Naturally, in music 'big' doesn't always mean better (rarely in fact does this maxim hold true), but at a time when new CDs can usually be purchased for around £10 - and still quite recently released ones for £7-£8 or even less...and then enjoyed potentially ad infinitum, then the cost of watching live music is already often prohibitive, especially given that it's a lot less fun as a solitary experience.

That's bad enough. Arguably worse is the tricky, underhand way in which many gigs are now advertised.

Scan through the latest tours ads in NME or your local paper and note how few of them actually give ticket prices.

Instead, you are asked to call a national rate number (at around 9p per minute) whereupon, providing you can negotiate the queuing system with all it's myriad options, you'll then discover the ticket price.

Of course,the promoters know that having commenced the booking process very few people will then hang up when they find out that tickets cost a fiver more than they had anticipated, a fact that, had they seen it written on the advert,might have dissuaded them from dialling in the first place.

I make it a rule not to purchase any item unless I know before I reach the till what it's going to cost me (so if a shop fails to price something and there's no assistant to ask then they probably won't get my trade).

When simply finding out such basic information costs money then they really can forget it.

The scam of handling fees was bad enough (and should have been outlawed years ago as ticket prices always used to include the seller's cost and cut), but despite having failed to act on that, the Government should now force promoters and venues to include the full cost of the ticket in their adverts.

Until then, the performers involved can sing for my money.....but they won't get it.

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