I had a conversation with a friend this weekend, and one thing he brought up is that we’re probably the last generation familiar with attending perfromances of live classical music. This might be a problem, but then again who really cares? I have met and worked for many classical musicians; although Yo-Yo Ma is a wonderful person, Emanuel Ax, Sir James Galway, Frederica von Stade and Itzhak Perlman are variously pains in the ass, prima donnas, flat-out pricks or all of the above. And they charge a fortune. At $50,000 and up, the first $16.66 of every ticket sold in my local 3,000-seat concert hall goes to the artist, and that’s assuming a sellout; these guys don’t pull off many of those anymore.
Luckily, I have a solution. Corporate naming rights are big nowadays, so why not underwrite classical performances in the same way? We have the Pepsi Arena, so why not Pepsi Perlman? The Verizon Center might host Frederica verizon Stade. And who wouldn’t want to see (and smell) Emanuel Axe Body Spray?
Still, even that might not be enough. What people really want to do is drop $85 for a has-been C-lister who was famous forty years ago. Why would anyone do that, you ask? Because the has-beens play at casinos, where concertgoers have a good chance of losing even more money than they already dropped on the ticket. Wait – it’s not losing money. It’s being entertained by the chance of winning. That’s what I’ve been told at least. (Go with it.)
Let’s adapt this for the concert hall. Midway though Flight of the Bumblebee, Sir James could suddenly stop and ask everyone to look under their seats – five lucky people will walk away with GREAT PRIZES! The great thing is that nobody will have any problem when ticket prices double, because great entertainment will now be part of the deal.