Now that it’s sunk in for a couple of days, I think it’s time to weigh in on the announcement that tickets for the 2007 version of Ozzfest is going to be free. The tab, that is surely massive, will be picked up by various tour sponsors like Jagermeister and Hot Topic. Either way the tour is going to be one giant ad, as if it wasn’t already. I’m guessing if Sharon Osbourne has her way Ozzy might wind up with “Hot Topic” tattooed on his knuckles instead of his name.
My initial reaction is that it is a great gesture. (High ticket prices have to be one of the worst forms of capitalistic thievery I’ve ever been witness too.) It also proves the real money from concerts isn’t made from ticket sales, but rather from the high prices of food and alcohol, not to mention merchandising.
I’m eager to see if the bands on the tour jack up their merchandise prices to offset playing for free. This is one way this grand gesture could backfire on the fans. I think it’s safe to say that one way or another the “captive audience” that makes up a concert crowd will be paying for the show. I’m already hearing rumors of a “beer shortage." (Just kidding.)
It’s already been announced, on Ozzfest's official website, that Ozzy himself will be headlining most the shows as a solo act. This is, of course, in conjunction with the new solo album he is currently readying. Hopefully it will be better than his last few studio efforts. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Ozzfest’s line-up over the years and I’m curious too see what other bands will be willing to set a summers paycheck aside for the sake of the fans.
There are a lot of rumors that Alice in Chains will be on the bill. It makes sense given their recent comeback tour, but it is still unconfirmed for now. I have a personal hunch that Velvet Revolver may play some dates now that their album has been pushed back to June 8th, just about a month before Ozzfest kicks-off on July 7th in L.A.
I think that the only thing we can say for sure about the lineup is that Iron Maiden won’t be donating their services. I personally won’t ever buy an Ozzfest ticket again (Good thing I’m a music writer) after Sharon Osbourne’s childish treatment of Iron Maiden on the last stop of the 2005 tour. I’ll admit she’s a savvy business woman, but the woman makes my skin crawl on an ethical level.
The last, and probably most problematic, thing that will be worth keeping an eye on is how the tickets are distributed. I’ve seen ticket distribution for free shows, usually on a much smaller scale, go both good and bad. There is a good possibility, again depending on the line-up, that the demand will outweigh the supply in some markets.
Radio giveaways always seem to be messy and cumbersome and I don’t trust leaving it up to the sponsors of the tour, as they will surely find a way to squeeze a penny out of the arrangement. I can see the headlines now “free tickets with any purchase.”
I would say the best bet would be to set an “onsale” at each venue and let fans line-up for the tickets, and when they are gone they are gone,. Ticket vouchers, as in you only get your tickets the day of the show with an I.D., would also be a good plan to keep scalpers from turning good intentions into ill-gotten booty.
If nothing else it will be fun to watch how this unfolds, and if it spurs any lasting changes in the concert industry.