Ticketmaster Auctions go to the Highest Bidder

Ticketmaster Auction Will Let Highest Bidder Set Concert

bq. “Late this year the company plans to begin auctioning the best seats to concerts through ticketmaster.com. With no official price ceiling on such tickets, Ticketmaster will be able to compete with brokers and scalpers for the highest price a market will bear. ”

I find this very interesting. This is another step towards Rock, etc becoming something other than popular culture, another turn on a death-spiral that alienates it from its constituency and its vitality. Without making a value judgement by drawing the compairison, it is this much closer to becoming like opera, ballet, or the symphony orchestra.

This isn’t exactly new, ticket prices have seemed obscene to me since college, and it’s pretty obvious that a lot of people (artists, promoters, etc) have got it in their mind to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, but I wonder how much this dynamic mirrors past cycles.

Certainly the trajectory is a familar one, if something isn’t heading up, it’s heading down, but doesn’t really get to the cultural “physics” of the phenomenon (And I don’t think I’m going to hit on any first principals in this posting).

It does seem to me though, that the music industrys pursuit of babyboomer pocket-books has some parallels with Clayton Christensen’s “innovators dillema.” Christensen hit upon a theory of why good businesses — businesses that do an excellent job of giving their best customers just what they want, companies that maximize their profit margins — often fail, by looking at a different sort of recording industry, the hard disk drive industry. I think the same dynamic could hold here.

In the disk drive industry, the major epoch’s were marked by patter size. The dominant manufacturer of each epoch would tend to flog the dominant form factor valiantly forward, delivering bigger, stronger, faster hard drives to their best customers. Meanwhile, they’d be ignoring smaller patter sizes, because the new tech wasn’t able to meet the needs of their best customers.

In time though, the product they were building was more than their customers wanted or were willing to pay for. Meanwhile, drives with smaller platters, made by another company, kept getting better and better, and was now the big thing.

It’s interesting that the music industry, which was obsessed with the next big thing long before the high tech industry was, seems prone to similar dynamics.