In a move that is only surprising because it hasn’t happened sooner, ticket sales for the November 13th K’Naan/Maroon 5 concert in Smitty Cent have been opened to all DC-area college students. While the GW Program Board twitter proclaims this move is due to “overwhelming demand,” the opposite is almost certainly true — underwhelming demand and lower-then-expected ticket sales forced GW’s hand.
I’d like to point out that this exact same thing happened for last year’s Program Board-sponsored Jason Mraz/Ben Folds double feature concert — while PB brought enough hype that people were lining up for tickets the day they went on sale in order to secure their spots, there was really no chance of a quickly selling out show at all (nearly half the tickets were unsold a week before the show). The renovated Smith Center increased seating capacity only makes a “sell-out show” even more difficult, and it took opening ticket sales to make the crowd an estimated “3,800″ out of 4,000 tickets, and that number only was reached the day of the show.
The Hatchet editorial board praised Program Board’s ability to pull in a big name artist, but to be honest, with their gargantuan budget & GW’s contract with TicketMaster, it shouldn’t be that difficult. And the big name groups they’ve gotten are specifically touring colleges — probably because those are shows that would normally guarantee sold-out tickets. I’ve been told that last year’s Jason Mraz/Ben Folds show definitely had a students-only stipulation in the contract for ticket-sales, and this show is a stop on Maroon 5′s “Back to School,” 11 university tour.
Artists who do these shows want to make money — and to do so, they have to sell tickets. If selling a reasonable amount of tickets to only GW students never ever works out, then maybe Program Board should re-examine its venue, artist, and contract decisions.
I understand Program Board’s urgent need to make sure GW students feel special, but if they want to keep these events monetarily viable, instead of a nerve-wracking exercise of whether or not enough tickets will sell, why not limit GW-only sales to a week, and then open them up? People don’t casually drop $30 to see a band they only feel lukewarm about, especially in an acoustically atrocious venue like Smith Center (though maybe that’s been fixed in the renovation?), so you give the hardcore fans a chance to buy their little hearts out, and then get the opportunity to make cash money. Plus, with only a week of exclusivity, you’ll snag even more early buyers then with simply pretending the show will sell out quickly.
One thing I will say though, props on fooling enough people into thinking this show would sell out: tickets have been on Craigslist for a few weeks now.
Also, props to Wes for achieving his own tag on the Hatchet Blog.