Thursday, July 26, 2007

No such thing as a free show

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday, I called my friend Peter to see what he was up to. He had read a write up about a band performing outdoors with 77 drummers and wanted to check it out. I was totally up for it, and we set a time to meet up.

When I arrived there, the line was at least a half mile long and the venue was already half way filled to capacity. We didn't bother waiting and I found out later they turned away most people on that line.

This happens quite a bit in NY during the summertime. There are many free shows, so even if someone is only sort of interested in seeing the band, they'll definitely attend a show if there isn't an entrance fee.

But the downside is that those that have a strong desire to see the show end up either getting turned away, or having an unpleasantly long wait, or can't enjoy the show fully because of the sheer number of people. And usually at venues like McCarren park where there are other activities like dodge ball and water slides, little attention is actually paid to band most of the time. And speaking as someone who likes to concentrate on the music when I see a show, that gets really annoying.

One could argue that free shows open up exposure to a new audience, but I think most people that go to free summer outdoor concerts do so with the sole purpose of getting drunk with their friends, not to hear new music.

I'm sure there's some economics theory to back this up like lowering entrance barriers, but I propose that there be entrance fees to all shows in NY. The number of music fans in NY is just too large to have a free show be enjoyable. I'd be interested in hearing your viewpoints on this issue.