Wanna See the Stones? Then Pay Up

Let’s face it:  this upcoming series of 50th anniversary shows will probably be the last time we get to see the Rolling Stones live.  With a collective age of 274 (Ronnie is the youngest at 65) and with health issues piling up (Ronnie’s addiction issues, Charlie’s cancer, Keef’s entire brain and body), it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that they can’t do this much longer.

I’m convinced this tour is about one thing:  reclaiming the title of the World’s Biggest Band and the highest-grossing tour of all time.  Mick–a true capitalist to the core–can’t be happy that the young whippersnappers in U2 made hold the record for pulling in $736 million on the 360 Tour.

So what’s the game plan?  Well, the Stones can grab back their World’s Biggest Band title just by showing up and delivering competent performances.  That shouldn’t be a problem unless Keef decides to fall out of more coconut trees.

As for the money part, there are several avenues:  (1) Play more than the 110 shows U2 did on the 360 Tour; (2) charge more for tickets; and (3) find alternate sources of revenue.

It’ll be tough to for these guys to play that many gigs which leaves options (2) and (3).

Option (2) is underway.  Tickets for the announced shows in London cost as much as £406 ($642 CAD) through the standard channels while those same premium tickets are being sold for up to £13,200 ($21,000) apiece. Yes, you read those figures correctly.  (Outrage can be found here.)

The next issue is how to suck in great gobs of money without having to tour too much.  That can be solved by setting up long residencies at big venues in major cities, forcing fans to come to the band instead of the other way around.  The Stones are one of the few bands who are that kind of draw.  

Another solution is to go the pay-per-view route.  And who better to enlist as your partner as the WWE, the kings of pay-per-view?  They want to see how many people can be convinced to part with $40 or $50 to watch a live Stones gig in the comfort of their own home in full 5.1.  

Having seen the Stones several times, I don’t feel a need to venture anywhere to see them live again. But if I can get a couple of buddies to bring over some pizza and Scotch for a PPV thing, I might be in.

Let’s see if they can pull it off.  I wouldn’t bet against them, either.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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