◎演唱會產業在很明顯的地方找到一個新的搖錢樹，答案正是走道座位！參考旅遊業的作法，Live Nation最近開始在某些選出的演出中提供走道座位要額外收費5美元到30美元之間，每一排最邊邊的座位以及三個額外的座位現在被標記為「高級走道座位」，將在Ticketmaster上進行促銷，對那些希望「享受可以較便利去購買小吃、洗手間和場地出口」的粉絲來說是另一選擇。這是Live Nation巡演資深總監Brad Wavra的創意，「高級走道座位」選項正在幫助許多藝人及其團隊在飽和的現場娛樂市場中增加收入，不過走道價格上漲必須得到藝人和主辦商的核准。
◎《權力遊戲：冰與火之歌》現場演唱會體驗已經將其走道座位的價格提高了10至20美元，而歌手Sara Bareilles於11月2日在Hollywood Bowl的演出，高級走道座位取決於在場館中的位置而多了5或10美元不等；根據這場演出的價格點，光是靠在走道座位的標記就可以增加將近1.5萬美元的票房收入。隨著價格的飆升及走道座位是綁售4個座位而不是2個，《權力遊戲：冰與火之歌》演出可能會在同一場館增加超過7萬美元的收入；如果將此作法用於所有19場北美演出，光是走道座位的部分就可能會使其總體毛利增加130萬美元。
◎提供走道座位的定價是藝人和演唱會主辦商利用數據確定門票利潤最大化定價的多種方式之一。2018年Billboard Boxscore的前25名巡演的收入比前一年增加了5億美元，增幅20%，這種躍升是藝人和演唱會主辦商為獲得更多利潤而提出解決方案的結果，他們透過更積極的定價席位，讓票券轉售市場上有相同或更多數量的席位，例如Taylor Swift的2018年《Reputation》體育場巡演因未全數售罄而受到批評，但這位歌手靠著較高的定價讓每場演出平均收入為500萬美元，且消除了試圖轉賣座位的黃牛的利潤率。但是許多藝人仍然因為有顯得貪婪的風險而不願意盡可能地多收費，反而為轉售商打開了獲取部分利潤的大門。對於這些較有自我意識的藝人來說，僅對走道座位增加售價可能是較容易的做法。
The concert business has found a new cash cow right under its nose: the humble aisle seat.
Taking cues from the travel industry, Live Nation has recently begun to offer aisle seats at select shows at a surcharge of between $5 and $30 a pop. Now labeled as "premium aisle seats," the seat at the end of each row and as many as three additional seats further into the row are being promoted on Ticketmaster as an option for fans who are looking to "enjoy the convenience of easy access to refreshments, restrooms and venue exits."
"Lots of artists are doing it -- people will pay more for them. You look at the seat map and the aisle seats are all sold," says Paradigm agent Larry Webman, who helped book Sara Bareilles' latest tour. "Live Nation pitched that it works, and in Sara's case we rolled the dice with them and it seems to be coming to fruition."
The brainchild of Live Nation senior vp touring Brad Wavra, the premium aisle seat option is helping many artists and their camps boost revenue in a saturated live entertainment market, though aisle price hikes must be approved by both the artist and the promoter.
"It's such a no-brainer it's amazing it hasn't been thought of before," says Artist Group International chairman Dennis Arfa. "Many of our shows, whether it's Billy Joel or Rod Stewart, we've noticed that the aisle seats are a contribution to the face-lift of the tickets. On an arena or stadium act, it could easily be six figures a night. If you're a theater act and it's 20 grand a night, that's a big number."
The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience has bumped up the price of its aisle seats by $10-$20 for select shows, while Bareilles' Hollywood Bowl show on Nov. 2 has premium aisle seats marked up by $5 or $10, depending on placement in the venue. Based on the price point for Bareilles' show, the singer-songwriter could gross nearly $15,000 more on the aisle seat markup alone. With steeper prices and the aisle seat bundles going four seats deep instead of two, the Game of Thrones show could potentially add more than $70,000 in revenue at the same venue; if applied to all 19 North American dates, it could grow its overall gross by $1.3 million on the aisle seat offer alone.
While Ticketmaster may be tapping into some pent-up aisle seat demand from average consumers, Barry Kahn, president of pricing software company Qcue, says data suggests that aisle prices are also being inflated by scalpers.
"A lot of this is driven by the secondary market. When brokers are coming in and buying tickets [on the primary market], they will get aisle seats if available," says Kahn. "You can't necessarily charge more for the aisle, but if your ticket says 'aisle' and there are three other tickets in that row, yours will probably sell first."
StubHub has offered an aisle seat filter for ticket searches for the past few years, and having a ticket that falls into one of the secondary market's "preferred" categories -- whether it is actually a better seat or not -- drives a broker's ticket to the top of the list, increases inventory and heightens the chance for a sale.
"As we strive to build 'filter forward' products that tailor recommendations, versus oversaturating with options, we have found that our repeat customers and most loyal fans use the tool most often when they are considering their ticketing purchases," says StubHub senior product manager Garrett Reeb.
Aisle seat offers are one of various ways artists and promoters have utilized data to determine profit-maximizing pricing for tickets. In 2018, Billboard Boxscore saw a 20 percent increase in revenue over the previous year for the top 25 tours, a boost of $500 million. The jump is a result of artists and promoters coming up with solutions to earn more revenue from the shows they are already putting on by more aggressively pricing seats that would go for the same amount or more on the secondary market. Taylor Swift's 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour drew criticism for a lack of sellouts, for example, but the singer pulled in an average of $5 million per show by pricing tickets higher and eliminating the profit margin for scalpers attempting to flip her seats.
But many artists are still reluctant to charge as much as they could at the risk of appearing greedy, opening the door for resellers to capture some of the profit instead. Upselling only the aisle seats may be an easier play for these more self-conscious acts.
"If the artist is selling that ticket for $150 and it's going for $350 on StubHub, the artist isn't seeing that lift go to their gross," says Paradigm's Webman. "It's just coming up with creative ways to help the artist. Dynamic, platinum and aisle seats across a 30- to 40-date tour, it puts a lot of money in the artist's pocket."
Frank Luby, CEO of pricing consulting company Present Tense, says there are "probably a lot of fans who couldn't care less whether they are in seat two, seat three or seat one. But someone might really want to have it."
"I would love to see more opportunities that come about that take care of both the artist and the fan," says Arfa. "It's such a natural fit. It helps everybody win."