An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

I have twice the standards, they're double standards

I know, I know, don't nag me, I've taken too long to post again. I have been a busy chappy. The book I'm writing is taking considerably longer than expected, but is slowly progressing. I have also been hit by numerous small disasters at home, which hit the home finances somewhat, making buying 4ad stuff a secondary priority. So far this year we have suffered a bathroom leak, a central heating blockage, a total washing machine failure, my wife going off to Australia for two weeks and the car needing tyres, brake discs and pads. Then we had a holiday booked in Italy, but that was the inspiration for this blog entry.

I don't generally go mad when it comes to gigs and paying for high ticket prices. I have seen over the past few years how concert ticket prices have soared. When the average ticket price for a large stadium size gig a few years ago was around the £20 to £30 mark, many large stadium concerts today have ticket prices of £100, £150 or even £200.

As a consumer I have always thought that I have a responsibility to help maintain the market. There should always be a level where a price is just too much for a service or an item. If we, as consumers, have no limit and are willing to pay anything, then we encourage a market to over inflate a price because the market knows the consumer will pay it. This is evident in car insurance for young people. Years ago, a teenager couldn't afford several thousand pounds a year on car insurance, so had to forgo owning a car until they were a little older. This reduced consumer demand and the insurance was cheaper than today. Today, teenagers feel that they cannot do without a car, that having a car is not a luxury, but a necessity and therefore are willing to pay any price to be insured and be able to drive, even if that means getting into a large debt at an early age.

This is also true of any shop a consumer visits. During my holiday in Italy, I visited a second hand shop in Florence. To my surprise, the shop had loads of stock that I wanted and was desperate to get. But I had to walk out empty handed because the prices were just too high, about double what they should have been. To pay the prices would allow that business to carry on inflating the prices which would reflect back on me and other customers again the next time we visit, because the prices would likely have increased. I do talk quite a bit about the worth of certain records in monetary terms, but this is one of the reasons. When buying records, there has to be a standard set where the price paid is too much and the retailer is just being greedy, but then the price has to be a certain level so that the retailer can keep a job and help us source those records we want. So a balance has to occur.

I think this is the same with concert tickets. There has to be a level set where anything over a reasonable price, the promoters are just taking the piss. But unfortunately if a minority are willing to ruin it for the majority by paying any price for a concert ticket, then the prices will just keep going up. I can understand when a concert is a rare event and the punters are afraid of missing a rare event. When Led Zeppelin decided to reform to do just a couple of concerts, after nearly 30 years since they split up, many of the fans must have been willing to pay just about anything to have seen them. But in the end, it's just a gig.

But then, to be a complete hypocrite, I'm tempted to break the rules to see Dead Can Dance, but I wouldn't directly break them. Some artists are worth the extra effort. When I saw that Dead Can Dance were to play a Roman Amphitheatre close to the city of Florence, I thought it was an opportunity not to miss. I live in the UK, so it would be quite a trip just for a gig. So I decided to wrap a holiday around it, giving me the chance to see the lovely Italian countryside and the incredible history that Tuscany had to offer. So I didn't break my own rule directly as the ticket price was just at the top end of what I'm willing to pay, but the rest of the trip, the flights, car hire and holiday added immensely to the price of the ticket!

The concert was worth it, as also was the rest of the holiday. About half way through the concert, behind the stage and over in the far distant mountains, a huge thunderstorm brewed and exploded into a fantastic light show as though the Roman gods themselves approved of the music. Quite a unique experience and worth every penny.

This weekend I'm going to see Peter Murphy play a lot closer to home. He is touring, playing only songs from Bauhaus. Will it be a good gig? I'll let you know quite soon.

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