52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

And you want me to go without

This is a bit of a long one (again. I am so verbose) Bear with me though, I've a couple of questions for you to answer at the end, a quick music related survey, and I'd quite like hear what you've got to say. If you get bored easily, you might want to pop down to the end and answer the questions right now.....

Still here?

Ok. On with the post.

Tickets for the European leg of U2's Vertigo Tour go on general sale on Friday morning. In spite of the fact that they are playing enormous stadiums (as usual), I imagine that competition for tickets will be fierce. I'm sure more than a few people will be slyly hitting the 'refresh' button on their internet browser at work whilst pretending to be incredibly focused on a fiendishly complex, macro-filled spreadsheet.

So how come a search on Ebay.co.uk ("U2 vertigo ticket") brings up 42 results? Retro-Boy has searched Ebay.com and reports that 855 different people are offering U2 tickets.

How does that work?

Actually I know how. I've been going to concerts with my mate John for absolutely years (I think our first gig together was probably metallica at the Milton Keynes Bowl in about 1992. When we ticked R.E.M. off our 'must see bands' list in the summer of 2003, we decided that U2 were probably the last really, really big band that we still wanted to see live, and hadn't yet seen. You have to be organised about this kind of thing, especially when tickets are likely to be hard to get hold of. Pretty much as soon as we knew that U2 were about to release an album, we formulated our strategy and both signed up for membership of the U2 website. It looks as though bands increasingly set aside a number of tickets for a pre-sale for the subscribers on their website. I'd already benefitted from this in 2004 by getting advance access to tickets for both Snow Patrol and Morrissey in small-ish venues. I thought U2 might just do the same thing. Almost right.

A few weeks ago, I had an email from U2.com telling me about a special club. For $40 you could join the U2.com club. The benefits? A shiny keyring, a discount from the online U2 shop, and early access to specially set aside tickets ahead of the general sale. I resisted at first because it just seems ridiculous. Then the band looked like announcing a tour, and the sheer horror of the thought that I might have to spend hours and hours on the phone and hitting f5 simultaneously... John and I decided we would split it and share the 4 tickets we would be entitled to.

Sure enough, when the tickets went onsale to club members on Tuesday at 10:00 GMT, I was able to get onto the Ticketmaster site and use a special code to buy 4 Standing tickets to the Twickenham date. It wasn't easy - the site kept crashing under the load, and it took several attempts to get through. I then did it all over again to get Lord Bargain's tickets for the Manchester date using his code (poor old Lord Bargain having spent the week in Luxor and being sadly unable to get to the internet in time). Some of my other friends, Statue John and the Ultimate Olympian are still fighting to get their tickets a whole 36 hours later (in a race against time before the general sale starts.... I bet that $40 doesn't feel all that well spent to them at the moment.

And of course, within minutes, hundreds of tickets were appearing on Ebay as people seek to make a quick profit. It makes me cross. I hate this attitude that sees people buy more tickets than they need, or as many tickets as they can for a concert they have no intention of going to, just so they can make some money. The NME tour was in Nottingham on Sunday night, featuring bands like The Killers, Bloc Party and The Futureheads. Out of interest, I had been monitoring Ebay all week and seeing people getting £75 for a pair of £17.50 tickets. The worst one was the one that I saw on the Friday night: some bloke had one spare ticket, and was offering to meet up with someone in front of Rock City to hand over the ticket to the winning bidder, as there wasn't enough time to post it. Bidding started at £50 for that one ticket. When I was in a similar position at The Hives gig I went to a couple of months ago, I gave the spare ticket to someone who was about to buy one off a tout. It cost me nothing, because Statue John had already paid for the ticket, and hadn't been able to make it, but I had no thought of selling it, and just wanted to make sure it wasn't wasted. The attitude that sees people put profit before everything else, the sheer greed of it... ah! Well, it annoys me.


I know Bono has got a world to save, and everything, but, really - how much were they charging? On top of the $40 I laid out for membership, I paid nearly £250 for 4 tickets - £55 per ticket for those standing tickets - plus ticketmaster's pound of flesh. Lord Bargain's seated tickets for the Manchester date were priced at £84 each. I'm sure that giant Lemons aren't cheap, but....that's a lot of money. Can I criticise St.Bono for that? Is that allowed? It's not like U2 need the cash, is it? Is Bono aiming to pay off third world debt personally?
Right then: the questions.

As I was listening to my Ipod at work this afternoon, I was reflecting that the first song you pay to download *must* say something about you, mustn't it? The very first song that you download, the one that persuades you to take out your credit card and enter a whole new world.

Mine was actually "Vertigo" by U2.

When I first got my Ipod, Itunes wasn't available on the PC, so I had downloaded all of my music into a completely different application (Media Centre) and when Itunes had arrived, I had no incentive to move, even after they had opened the music store. Apart from all the inevitable hassle I assumed would result when I tried to move my music library, the idea of downloading anything from the internet wasn't really on my mind, legal or otherwise. My Ipod was purely filled up with stuff ripped directly off my own CDs. It was probably the advertising campaign that did it in the end, and I'm sure "Vertigo" would be the song cited by thousands of others as their first paid download. Once I'd done that, the dam was open, and I have been buying all sorts of stuff since then (although I haven't downloaded a whole album yet - I still like to pick them up on CDs).

I'm curious though (and here come the questions....finally.....)

What was the first song you paid to download?

Or if you haven't done it yet, what song would you pay to download?

If you can be bothered, I'd also be interested to know what the first CD you ripped onto your PC was.... mine was "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" by Coldplay. What was yours? That probably says something about you too. Was it your favourite album?

Answers on a postcard (or in comment) please.....


  • At 10:38 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    Never paid for a download. First CD ever ripped was a friend's band's first single. Does that say anything about me? Dunno.

    Surely St Bono's inflated ticket proceeds don't go towards saving the world? His shiny car collection seems to suggest otherwise. Arf.

  • At 12:19 am, Blogger Mark said…

    Never paid to download a song ever. Why would I? I buy the song, not a licence to listen to it...

    My first song was "Converted" by Alabama 3, the first song on the first album by the first band of the alphabet.

  • At 12:22 am, Blogger Damo said…

    I've been a staunch defender of U2 until now. They just lost me.

    It's not Bono's fault that the organisation of the presale was so bad. However, it IS U2's fault that they made you pay for a presale, it is their record company's fault that it was handled so badly, and it's bloody everyone's fault that the tickets are so prohibitively expensive.

    I want to see them but I won't be joining in the mad scramble on Friday. That kind of money doesn't go to just saving the world. I don't ask people who've 'made it' to ensure that they just scrape by and break even, but this is utterly taking the piss. And whatever they do this time, it won't be as expensive to put on as Popmart was - a show I absolutely loved.

    For less than twice the ticket price, I'll be going to Glastonbury... all the entertainment you could want, before you even mention the bands. Looks also like that other world-saver, Chris Martin and his band will be there...

  • At 12:37 am, Blogger SwissToni said…

    Damo - I totally agree. Glastonbury is just brilliant. But as we're talking about ticketing fiascos.... last year was a total disaster. They organised it as though they weren't expecting any demand, and were all surprised when all the servers crashed and they had no one to fix them, or that they didn't have enough operators answering the phones. I think I posted about it last March actually, if you can be arsed to look (I can't!). I'm really keen to go this year (and if you look at the U2 tour schedule, you'll see a handy gap in their schedule for the Saturday night of Glasto...)

    I'm just afraid that buying tickets will be even worse this year because it was so hard last year, and everyone will be doubly determined to get a ticket in the first 10 minutes after they go on sale.



  • At 5:41 am, Blogger Aravis said…

    First cd burned was the self-titled Indigo Girls for my little sister.

    As for U2, a friend of mine went to Ireland a couple of years ago and made friends with some locals. They went out for a walk. One of the men pointed to a small house near the water, almost a shack really in appearance. He told my friend that that is where the Edge lives, and could sometimes be seen outside his door playing. Then the man turned my friend around and pointed at a large, gaudy looking mansion. Bono's residence.

    A difference in personalities there. *G*

  • At 8:57 am, Blogger OLS said…

    Never paid to download a song - most of the music I buy isn't available in that format. Not sure what I would pay to download - probably something that wasn't otherwise available (which a few bands over here in Oz are doing lately).

    First CD ripped? I think it might have been Jeff Buckley's Grace - my CD player wouldn't play it, but it would rip it (go figure), so that's what I did.

    - OLS

  • At 9:53 am, Blogger Arethusa said…

    I've never had to pay for any of the songs and albums I've downloaded as I have a very generous friend, but if I wanted to it would be Silversun Pickup's debut album. Unfortunately they only sell it at two places: their live shows and a record store in L.A.

    I don't remember the first CD I ripped...it feels like ages ago.

  • At 10:01 am, Blogger John said…

    Well, let's hope Mrs Mac decides not to read your blog for a while - not that the "surprise" of scoring U2 tickets is looking like coming off after all. I'd vent my spleen about the frustration involved in paying $40 for special access only to be denied ANY access, let alone "special" access, but I'm saving all that angst for my next thrice-daily e-mail to ticketmaster.

    I have yet to buy a download, but recently ripped my first CD. I was aware that it was a bit of a "moment" - like your first 7" single purchase (Mary's Boychild by Boney-M) - so I chose Led Zeppelin I. Then II. Then III. Then I couldn't find IV so I did Houses of the Holy. Then I found IV. Then the second disk of Physical Graffitti crashed the machine...

  • At 10:26 am, Blogger Statue John said…

    I too wanted to rip in a special CD first time round, so chose 'Youth and Young Manhood' by those Kings of Leon. Leeeeeeeoooooon, leeeeeeeoooooon!

    First legal download was the album by Aussie chanteuse Sia, as I noticed a special section on the website for her and wanted to check it out. In the vein of Dido but ten hundred times better...

    I was actaully most fortunate to fluke tickets for U2 in the end somehow, but thanks for the plug.

  • At 10:49 am, Blogger Mark said…

    I've put myself on ebay (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6508113490)... anyone want link this around and cause a stink?

  • At 10:58 am, Blogger Damo said…

    First legal download: Muse's "Stockholm Syndrome". You got up to three burns of it for your 99p, so I made three copies for me and two friends. Although once you've burned something to CD, you can just rip it back as an unprotected track anyway.

    U2 won't be playing Glastonbury - they'll be filling in the gaps with other dates, I understand. Having said that, it could be an elaborate ruse to keep things quiet. I sincerely doubt it, though.

  • At 11:07 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ichoons has yet to make it over here to our pirate shores....but you can be damn sure that the first thing i dload will be something awful (as what i like, i already own...what does that say abt me? obsessive compulsive shopperholic praps?)
    First album ripped onto my ipod? Zero 7s debut effort...any special significance to that? Was there f*ck. It was the only thing I could find in the sty that is my room....and I had to go to the gym with nothing but that in the afternoon...the slowest 10K I'd ever managed.


  • At 12:21 pm, Blogger Lord Bargain said…

    £84 a ticket is frankly potty. Fact.

    i was halfway through my first (and to date only) legal download when I suddenly realised I had just picked something vaguely interesting to see how easy it was rather then something quite defining. Hence the rather dubious "In The Shadows" track by the Rasmus is my admission.

    Razorlight "Up All Night" was literally the first cd that I found when I plugged the ipod into the PC. Nothing at all symbolic there, I am afraid.

  • At 9:33 pm, Blogger Tom said…

    Never paid for a download. The first song I ever did download was (don't laugh) "Georgy Girl" by the Seekers. Hey, I don't care. It's a glorious pop single. The second was a rare mix with strings of the Badfinger single "Come And Get It".

    I have never done a whole album, but I would like to have a go at the Libertines second album.

  • At 4:27 pm, Blogger Le moine perdu said…

    I've seen Rolling Stones tickets going at over a hundred quid - not even from touts either. But you can listen to great live music without ticket prices being an issue if you check out local, unsigned bands. We had one in my hometown that became the mighty Skindred, and they still popped down to the local goth joint every now and then until it closed down last year.

    Never paid to download, never intend to.

    First CD ever ripped onto PC...hmm. I think it was when I burned my napster-downloaded version of Floyd's 'Meddle' onto a CD, then ripped it onto my mate's PC for him. That was YEARS ago, though.

    First fully legal CD though...hmmm...possibly Idir's 'A Vava Inouva'. Or could be Manu Chao's 'Proxima Estacion'.

  • At 7:05 pm, Blogger YokoSpungeon said…

    Never paid to download. Would pay for Willy Mason's 'Oxygen'.

    First rip to pc was Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction's 'Prime Mover'. :)


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