This is the first in a new weekly series I’m going to call Hendrik’s Monday Musings. Consider it my commentary on all things music related in Ottawa, Canada and beyond.
Unless you count his appearance at the Calgary Stampede in 2012 it’s been 19 long years since Garth Brooks performed on Canadian soil. Hamilton was the first stop to be announced back on the 6th of January and when tickets went on sale a few weeks later there was no question that he would be welcomed back with open arms.
Now this ain’t comin’ from no prophet, just an ordinary man but there’s something to be said about the way Garth is managing this comeback, something that the music industry can and should learn from. Since Garth first announced the Man Against Machine tour back in July of 2014 he insisted that this tour was for the fans and his goal was to keep it affordable and try to reach as many fans as possible. Firstly rather than listing a few years of tour dates Garth announces one show at a time, with new shows announced days or weeks apart. This builds incredible hype and anticipation amongst the fans.
Look at the two recent Canadian shows Hamilton and Ottawa, Hamilton was announced first meaning fans from all over Ontario were scrambling to get tickets because “what if Garth doesn’t come any closer to my hometown, or what if he does announce a local show and it sells out before I can get tickets”, tickets go on sale and he quickly sells out 5 shows in a matter of just a few hours. Then a week later tickets went on sale in Ottawa, 3 shows quickly sold out for a total of 50,000 tickets sold smashing Garth’s previous Ottawa record of 36,952 set in 1996, also his last visit to Ottawa. But it wasn’t enough, the outcry from fans across Eastern Ontario was loud and, almost heartbreaking, as many failed to get tickets and life long dreams of catching Garth Brooks live in concert were seemingly dashed…but Garth Brooks heard the cries and felt the pain so he did something incredible…added a 4th show.
The second thing that has made this tour such a smashing success is the fact that all tickets (aside from VIP packages) are the same price and are sold first come first served. Sure some fans weren’t thrilled that they couldn’t pick their seats but let’s be honest for a minute, are there any bad seats at a Garth Brooks show? In the end regardless of whether your seat is directly in front of the stage or somewhere up in the rafters you paid the same price for your ticket, and it was affordable. The $80 price tag, after fees and taxes, is comparable to what you would pay for the worst seats at just about any other concert in Ottawa.
So what can the industry learn from Garth? Simple, remember who put the artist on that stage and, most importantly, listen to the fans. Not everyone can afford 2 or 300 dollars a ticket to see an artist perform, dropping ticket prices might just net an artist more in multiple shows than over-priced tickets will get them in a single show that’s only three quarters full.
Garth you won the hearts of your fans decades ago and, especially here in Ottawa, you won them all over again this past week simply by listening to them. On behalf of all of us, we can’t wait to host you and Trisha in Ottawa again in April.