To comp or not to comp for shows

by Jason Gross

25 April 2006


Reading a headline like this probably won’t elicit much sympathy from anyone other than a scribe: Black Crowes deny a journo a free ticket.  It does bring up a few interesting issues though.
Some points worth pondering that were brought up in response to the article:

- Comps come out of band’s pocket- some can afford this better than others: i.e. Jagger and friends will still have their villas if they miss sales from a ticket but a small town band playing at a 150 capacity club could probably use the money.  Bands make their money more from ticket sales than album sales

- Journos can’t always afford to pay for shows they write about (sometimes a ticket costs more than what they’re paid)

- If performers or management deny comps for journalist, they shouldn’t cry if they get no press for a concert date.  If they get bad press as a result of sour grapes (and not revealing that the writer got shut out), then shame on that publication though

- I wonder if journos would appreciate or not appreciate shows more if they had to pay for each of them.  To be honest, I really don’t think I appreciate a concert any more than when I pay for a ticket.  Maybe I’m a little madder when it isn’t a good show and I have to pay for it though

- Some bands thrive on bad press or adversity with the press (i.e. Motley Crew, Grand Funk) so this might not even be an issue for them

- Arena acts are already so big that this isn’t an issue for many of them.  Remember recently when Prince offered press tickets but they still had to be bought at full price?  Pretty nervy but the guy still did a great tour and raked in tons of money

- The opposite holds true for smaller acts- a written-in, accepted price to doing shows is that they need exposure so they have to let some of the sales be swallowed up by comps so that they can get a chance at recognition

- It’d be interesting to somehow take a poll at different shows to find out how many people were comped (as writers or otherwise) and how that might or might not effect how well a show went

- Believe it or not, there are actually some writers who take it as a given that they’ll be comped.  These are the top feeders who work for big national magazines.  At a recent panel, I’ll never forget a writer who was asked about what he paid for a certain concert who then angrily snapped back “I never pay for shows!” like it was his God-given right or something

- I think that some writers can make a reasonable argument that since their columns promote bands and gets them recognition, that kind of makes up for the price of the comp

- Just as there’s a food chain for bands, there’s one for writers also so that certain scribes who write for large circulation publications can be pretty much assured comps to a show while other writers who write for smaller publications have to sometimes get turned down.  The publicist/label/band can reasonably say, “we can’t give away all our tickets”

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