Fans Queue For Madonna “Rip-Off”

Any questions U.K. media were asking about the £160 Madonna ticket being “a rip-off” were quickly dispelled as she sold out her seven Wembley Arena shows in fewer than 24 hours.

As BBC’s Radio FiveLive ran a listener “phone-in” about the price, a Sky News crew was busy interviewing European tour producer John Giddings about the number of complaints the station had allegedly received about how much Madge’s fans were expected to pay.

“It’s the best non-paid advertisement that I’ve ever had,” Giddings explained. He said Madonna was one of the “holy trinity” of acts – The Rolling Stones and U2 are the others – that are entitled to charge that much per ticket because “they have a back catalogue to die for and a level of show production that nobody else can match.”

Giddings’ Solo Agency, which split Clear Channel (now Live Nation) at the end of 2005, still works as the European wing of that company’s The Next Adventure. It represents all three of the “holy trinity” acts.

Madonna’s seven shows at the new 12,000-capacity Wembley Arena August 1-15, which reopened April 2 after a £35 million (US$61 million) spruce-up, went on sale April 7.

By the end of the day, six shows (72,000 tickets) were sold and, by mid-morning the following day, the seventh had gone.

Leon Ramakers from Live Nation’s Mojo Concerts put his September 3 Madonna show at Amsterdam Arena on sale at 9:30 a.m. April 8 and shifted all 50,000 tickets before 10.

By the end of the day, he sold another 35,000 tickets for a second show she’s performing at the same venue the following day.

During a panel on ticket prices at Holland’s Eurosonic-Noorderslag 2003 (“Ticket Prices Up Share Prices Down”), his Mojo colleague Ron Euser said, “It’s not the price on the ticket, it’s the name on the ticket that counts.”

A couple of weeks before Euser made that comment, Ramakers told Dutch national daily De Volkskrant that the acts dictate the ticket price and – whether he likes it or not – that’s the way the industry has changed.

During the hour the Sky News team was at Giddings’ Fulham offices, Wembley sold about 10,000 tickets.

Colin Roberts, the venue’s marketing manager, was fielding questions about the “rip-off” tickets from papers including The Daily Mail and London’s Evening Standard as the queue snaked around the building.

– John Gammon