Bear investigates how one great artist can sell out in a burgeoning ticket-sale climate.
As the great Irish concert season approaches, one man in particular has bucked the trend for live music. In the last year he has played two shows already, and will play a further five at the end of July. This will bring his tally to seven shows in two years selling close 200,000 tickets (140,000 this year with the difference made up from last year). In a declining market where bands of an older generation are struggling to sell out one show, (think Neil Young, Bon Jovi, Roger Waters) how has Springsteen bucked the trend?
The first reason is the consistency of his shows. You rarely hear of someone having less than a great time at one of Springsteen’s concerts. In an interview with the New Yorker last year Springsteen gave insight into how he approaches his live music
“With all artists, because of the undertow of history of self-loathing, there is a tremendous push towards self-obliteration that occurs onstage. You are free of yourself for those few hours. All the voices in your head are gone. Just gone. There is no room for them. [On stage] I’m a repairman, a repairman with a toolbox. If I repair a little of myself, I repair a little of you. That’s the job.”
Depression has defined his life. With hindsight, he now understands that his father struggled with depression during his formative years and he suffers with the same thing. To get out onto the stage frees him, and he loves to leave it all out on the stage, to give as much of himself as he can. It’s not surprising for a man who drove to California on a whim.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Second, is the value for money factor. Yes, tickets range from €90 to €100; but his shows usually hit the three-hour mark with his longest show clocking in at three hours forty-eight minutes, and that only happened last year. If he plays for three hours, you are paying €1.80 per minute. The mythic status those 180 minutes could have is enough to make it worth it.
Third, his set list appeals to all of his fans, whether they are diehards waiting to hear something pulled deep from the back catalogue or fans only familiar with his Greatest Hits. His last concert in Melbourne contained Adam raised a Cain, She’s the One, Darlington County, as well as The River, Born to Run, Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark. He seems like he actively ensures he is doing something for everyone. His sign requests are well-known by now. He will pick two or three out of the crowd so to play what his fans want.
Lastly, the ability to sell out five shows is not only a credit to him, but to Aiken promotions who took him out of Dublin and Dublin-centred locations. With the Dublin music scene jam-packed with festivals and concerts this summer would there have been room for five Springsteen gigs? Probably not. But fans in Cork, Belfast, Limerick and Kilkenny will be all too happy to stay local to see the iconic man. This could be a lesson to other promoters who should try harder to exploit the music scene outside of Dublin with larger acts in smaller, multiple venues. But then again, will any of these acts have the energy of a 62-year-old man?
Check out the playlist below to find out why Springsteen brings in the tickets. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments or tweet @serenitybtweets