Too Bad the Beer Will Cost You $15 a Cup

Truncated from Blabbermouth:

That’s right, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and tour producer Live Nation broke the news today at the Concert Industry Consortium in Los Angeles that their 12th annual hard rock spectacular — a 25-date extravaganza launching July 7 in Los Angeles — is pulling the plug on ticket prices and giving the power back to the fans calling this summer’s Ozzfest “FreeFest.” The other Ozzfestcities as of now are San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio, Kansas City, St Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Hartford, Charlotte, Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Nashville. Note: a final confirmed list of cities and dates is forthcoming.

“For the last few years,” says Sharon, “ticket prices have steadily climbed as artists demand more and more money for summer tours. We certainly want everybody to make money, however we also want the kids to be able to afford to come out and have an incredible experience. If we continued with the traditional touring festival model, we would have no choice but to raise ticket prices again this year.”

Cited as “one of rock’s biggest juggernauts” in the cover feature of Sunday’s New York Times’ “Arts and Leisure” section (6/25/06), Ozzfest and Live Nation will turn to sponsors to provide added support for the festival’s new incarnation. This summer’s Ozzfest will provide select sponsors with a unique opportunity to engage fans one-on-one utilizing one of music’s best known brands.

“We’re reaching the same point we did years ago when kids no longer wanted to pay for overpriced CDs,” compares Sharon. “As a result, they found alternative ways of getting music. That’s what’s happening with summer touring in this country, it’s out-pricing itself. We started this and we want to keep it and we want to make it bigger and bigger each year by getting bigger sponsors to be involved with the festival and underwriting the festival. That’s what it’s about.”

To gain entry into the event, fans will go to or to find links that will direct them to special sponsor sites where tickets can be secured. More details regarding the process are forthcoming.

Yes, it’s alright if you want to get ridiculously spastically excited now. It’s also alright if you’re yawning, but come on: Ozzfest fan or no, this is awesome.

It’s not a stretch to say that Ozzfest in years past has been worth the ticket price. Even if you only like three bands on both stages combined, one festival pass was just about the equivalent of three regular show admissions. Even if you’re stuck with a horrid headliner, the second stage has become known for showcasing many acts from across the pond that never would have otherwise been able to afford the opportunity to tour the States.

It’s done a great thing for keeping metal alive. Okay, so it’s done some terrible things like pushing Avenged Sevenfold into any sort of spotlight and contributing to the chugga-chugga direction of Lacuna Coil, but by and large, it’s been a positive thing. Metal needed some serious help eleven years ago, and it was Ozzy that had a tremendous hand in turning things around.

Now that I’ve licked enough balls…

It seems that the festival will be supported primarily by sponsors. And that’s great, although it shouldn’t shock anyone to see the prices jacked up on everything else at the shows. It should more than balance out.

More than anything, however, I’m curious as to how this will impact the lesser bands on the bill. Will the exposure make up for loss of a guarantee? For those not aware, bands collect the most money selling merchandise; shelling out cash instead of downloading their album might put a buck fiddy in their pockets, but buying a t-shirt will net them $5-10. Ticket prices would generally be the next route to profit. Without that, hopefully there’s a guarantee in place that will compensate.

Although if people aren’t shelling out a couple hundred for tickets, that leaves them a couple hundred more to spend on merch; is this Ozzfest’s way of forcing bands to try harder? If you have money to buy two shirts, it’s two bands that are going to profit, rather than having that money distributed between all acts (in varying percentages) via admission prices. What better way to inspire bands to blow the crowd away? A band’s mealticket is already riding on their music career, but with knowledge that one could head into Bill Gates territory with some extra “zaz”, it’s the fans that will benefit. This almost sounds like a reality show, but frankly, I wouldn’t know what the Osbournes would know about anything like that.

If the freebie idea inspires you to actually attend an Ozzfest this year, do keep the above in mind. Support the bands that kick your ass. You tip your waitstaff, right? So buy a shirt, a cap, whatever. If all is utopian, not only will Ozzfest be inspired to continue to be free, but the artists will give their all, and nobody will go home unhappy.