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Take the Money and Run

Is the price of concert tickets an economic indicator? The Big Picture spots a discount for a Steve Miller Band concert from its promoters that features “tickets available for only $10!” and begins to wonder. He also cites an anonymous industry executive who tells him the following:

“This is shaping up to be a pretty bad summer for touring. A lot of tours are having trouble. The sheds (like Jones Beach) are having a particularly hard time selling seats. The economic difficulties are showing up in weak ticket sales. A lot of people are reluctant to spend all that money on gas getting to the show, paying for parking and then beer — on top of the concert tickets. By contrast, movie box office is doing reasonably well, most likely because the prices are reasonable, there have been some decent movies this year and with people staying closer to home, movies are a vacation substitute. Much cheaper to take a family to Wall-E than to Disney or Six Flags…

Economists are looking all the time for offbeat indicators that tell them something about consumer spending decisions, like the Latte Index, which measures whether people are cutting back on coffee drinks at Starbucks. If promoters have to discount concert tickets during the summer season, this could be one of them. On the other hand, as a Big Picture reader points out: “Dude, you’d have to PAY me more than $10 to see the Steve Miller Band.”

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