Have the Rolling Stones Priced Themselves Out of the Market?

The natural inclination after hearing about exorbitant prices for Rolling Stones tickets is to find one of their songs that fits the moment. The tune I found that that can be applied here is “Back to Zero,” from their “Dirty Work” album, released in 1986.

Yes indeed. Roll back those prices. Back to zero. Please. I ain’t too proud to beg.

Back to zero, like in the days when they were first starting out and playing bars and clubs in and around London, capitalizing on a blues-rock movement that bordered on a pandemic. Since then, the Stones have evolved from an innocent rock and roll band to a red-tongued conglomerate. And they charge a lot for tickets now.

They’ll be at the MGM Grand Saturday night. As of Wednesday at noon, just over 600 tickets were available on StubHub, starting at $277. But prices seem to fluctuate on this “50 and Counting” tour, much the way they do at a bazaar in Casablanca after a great deal of haggling. And even as of Thursday, the ticket prices keep going down on Craigslist.

Mick Jagger has always been the CEO of the Stones. I have to admit that, while a lifelong Stones fanatic, my opinion of Mick has fluctuated between greedy son of a gun and guy who is worth every penny for which he asks. It’s a conundrum. So the only sensible approach to pricing on this current tour is to allow what the market will bear. And that has been as elusive to grasp as a guitar pick tossed into the audience by Keith Richards.

In Los Angeles, tickets for floor seats went for $600 apiece. When they didn’t move, the price was slashed on some tickets to $85, so it was conceivable that you could have paid $1,200 for two ducats and would have sat next to a couple that paid $170 for two similar seats. They’re calling it “flex pricing,” which is another way of saying, “adjusting to overpricing.”

At the MGM, concierge B’Anka Neder-Mauro said ticket prices for the Rolling Stones have not been reduced at the box office; they currently range from $250 to $750 apiece. But she said she can’t say if that will change between now and showtime.

Most tickets are usually gobbled up by professional ticket services and scalpers when they go on sale. But it seems the market has been soft, so it’s possible services will end up selling some tickets for less than face value.

In terms of entertainment, the Rolling Stones are still worth laying down a few bucks to see. The reviews of their Los Angeles show at Staples Center were effusive. The Stones were joined by such music luminaries as Keith Urban, Gwen Stefani and the group’s former guitarist Mick Taylor. It’s the kind of electrifying event entertainment that stays in the memory forever. It would be great if you could buy a couple of tickets and not need forever to pay off the debt.

At the risk of revealing my age—I figure eventually chemists using carbon dating will do it anyway—I saw the Rolling Stones at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1972, on Mick Jagger’s 29th birthday. Stevie Wonder was the opening act. I still have the ticket stub. The price: $6.50.

I’m going to try and use it to sneak into the MGM Grand show. Wish me luck.