Last night, I attended a quickie concert at The Crocodile Café . The band: Sum 41 . The sponsor: Verizon Wireless . The concert: Forgettable>"/>
But if I was a big fan of Sum 41 and I wasn’t there, I would’ve been pissed. It was a “private show” and getting in was difficult. Unless you were lucky or rich, of course. No tickets for the event were sold at the box office or online. To get tickets to the event, one either had to win one of roughly 230 promo tix from 107.7 The End, seattleweekly.com, thestranger.com, or the Sum 41 fan club. You could also have scored tickets by downloading Sum 41 content on Verizon Wireless’ V-Cast service.
But if you weren’t winner for a promotions or a Verizon customer, diehard fans had only one option to get in the door – buy a top model phone (the LG VX 9400 or the LG EnV) and sign a two-year contract with Verizon. That’s right, a bill that in total costs about $1,100. To see a Canadian punk rock band that’s been around for six years or so. Hell, The Police’s concert tickets cost less.
On one hand, you could look at this as just another private show, the sort of thing someone could pay Sum 41 to do when they’re not touring (and their next real tour doesn’t start until the fall). Lead singer Deryck Whibley told me before the concert he saw nothing wrong with these types of shows, which intersect popular music and corporate wireless communications. “This is the direction the music industry is going,” he said. “My phone has tons of mp3s on it and the iPhone is coming out soon. Phones are becoming everything we use.”
Good point Deryck, but the scary part of it is if exclusive corporate concerts become a trend. Imagine your favorite band playing one show in your neighborhood and they’re not coming back for awhile. Then, the only way to get in (besides luck or sucking off a radio DJ) is to buy a new cell phone and a pricy contract. Jenny Weaver, spokesperson for Verizon, said she considered the event a thank you to Verizon customers. “We are rewarding our customers who have upgraded their phones, renewed contracts or signed new contracts. This is essentially like handing out free concert tickets to loyal customers.”
What it sounds like to me is the slow destruction of the concert experience and the draw of live music.