How much is music worth? (Or: Is John Mellencamp worth $125?)

On Wednesday morning, when the presale tickets for John Mellencamp’s Nov. 11th show at the Johnny Mercer Theatre in Savannah went on sale, I hopped online at 10 a.m., got the presale password, jumped over to the Savannah Civic Center website, and considered buying a couple of tickets.

For a few minutes, I was holding a couple of second row seats, center orchestra. With the “convenience fee” and “delivery”, the cost was going to be about $135 per seat.

So I started looking at the next pricing tier — the $89 seats. Those are pretty far back on the lower level.

During the 2011 Savannah Music Festival, I consistently paid around $50 for amazing seats to hear some of the world’s greatest musicians, including several shows in the spectacular Lucas Theatre. I’ve already bought two front row Johnny Mercer seats for the State Ballet Theatre of Russia in January — $45 each.

Did I really want to spend three times that much to hear John Mellencamp? Or twice as much to see him from a mediocre seat in a less-than-wonderful venue?

Remember this?

As it turned out, the answer was no. I let the seats go. I could probably finagle a press seat, but I honestly like to support worthy performers — I can afford it. But John Mellencamp is going to have to live without my dollars this time around.

And I guess I’m not alone. Tickets went on sale to the general public yesterday, and there are still seats available at all the pricing tiers.

Now, the show will probably still sell out. But I hope the lack of an enthusiastic rush will make promoters and Mellencamp rethink their prices.

It’s obviously ironic that a performer who has so long portrayed himself as a friend of middle America would price his good seats so far beyond the reach of many working people.

4 comments for “How much is music worth? (Or: Is John Mellencamp worth $125?)

  1. August 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

    May be foolish, but the immediate thought came: Share the seat, not so different from employees sharing a position. Not sure how that would fly with promoters; but, perhaps 2 folks might anti up for $67.50 for half a show!

  2. bill dawers
    August 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    One could always do that by just leaving halfway through and passing along the ticket to someone else. Of course, the full price would still have to be paid by one person and the cost split in a private transaction.

  3. Beth Nelson
    August 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I’m probably one of the biggest John Mellencamp fans in Savannah, and I have traveled to see him in concert, most recently to the Fox in Atlanta. I will have to admit I hesitated. That is a lot of money for me to spend on a concert. If a financial advisor looked at my budget I’m sure they would say “you can’t afford $125 concert tickets!” In the end I bought the ticket (4th row, wish I had those 2nd row seats you gave up!) I spend a lot of money traveling to other cities for concerts, so I justified it because I won’t be paying travel expenses. I am sure there are many, many JM fans who just can’t afford it. That is really a shame. What drives concert prices? Is it the entertainer, the promoter, managaer, the entourage that is required for big names to tour? Always a big debate.

  4. August 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks for your viewpoint on this, Bill. Folks may see my take on the same topic at the link below, if they are so inclined:

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