For concertgoers, “the wai-ai-ting is the hardest part,” as Tom Petty used to sing.
Fans often had to buy tickets four to six months ahead of time if they wanted to see their favorite artists, at least if they wanted the best seats. It wasn’t uncommon for some of the biggest tours to go on sale a full year or more in advance.
One of the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least for now, appears to be the long waits between show announcements and show dates.
In the last week, JAC Management announced May shows by country duo the Brothers Osborne at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre and nu metal favorites Limp Bizkit at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown. Comedian Katt Williams’ Covelli Centre show also went on sale in March for a May 7 performance.
Sunrise Entertainment earlier this month put on sale a May show by blues legend Buddy Guy at the Robins Theatre in Warren.
JAC Vice President Ken Bigley said there are several reasons for the change. Part of it is performers rushing to hit the road after a long layoff due to the pandemic. With the winter wrath caused by the delta and omicron variants waning, there’s increased optimism for the spring and summer concert season, causing more acts to resume touring.
While there have been rumblings in the industry for more than a year that Limp Bizkit was planning to tour, promoter AEG didn’t reach out to JAC to check on available dates and ask other questions until six to eight weeks ago, Bigley said.
Customers also have gotten gun-shy about buying tickets far in advance after enduring two years of postponements and cancellations.
“Hesitation from buyers is showing more,” Bigley said. “If they didn’t buy tickets the first week, they’re going to wait until the week of or a couple weeks before to buy.”
Ken Haidaris of Sunrise Entertainment agreed.
“Absolutely. The walk up on the day of show has been much bigger (this year),” he said.
Haidaris isn’t worried about having a shorter window than usual to sell tickets for Buddy Guy because of his stature with blues fans.
“He’s so popular; he kind of markets himself,” Haidaris said. “With some of the other shows, it’s a little tougher, but it seems to be working right now.”
Bigley said genre and venue also affect buying habits. R&B / hip hop fans tend to wait to buy tickets. Outdoor amphitheaters such as the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre also tend to attract last-minute buyers because most of the tickets are general admission, so there is less incentive to buy early.
Classic rock acts tend to sell slow and steady.
“They don’t blow out right away, but they’re a grinder,” Bigley said. “They sell a solid amount daily for the entire campaign.”
Both Bigley and Haidaris said the shorter on-sale windows haven’t caused any major problems for the venue operators, but they also don’t expect it to last.
“I think some of that is going to organically change throughout the next year,” Bigley said. “Same time next year we should be back to normal, but it’s going to happen little by little over the next 12 months.”