Transcribed By Dave Ward

Interview on Q101 FM Chicago 25 June 1999

THE CAST

Mancow Muller: host of the radio programme

Greg Cotton: Chicago Tribune/Rolling Stone correspondent

Jerry Michaelson: partner in Jam Productions, Chicago floyd/waters promoter

Barry [?? last name unknown ??]: President of the Central States Ticket

Brokers Association, associated with “Mr. B’s” ticket agency

Jim D. Regatas (sp?):

Roger Waters: some musician guy 😉

Thomas Frank: fan who contacted Waters about the ticket availability and pricing problems

Greg Cotton: “His tickets for his show July 24th flew out in about two minutes, is what I’m told. And people were waiting in line thinking they were in a great position in line for tickets at various TicketMaster outlets and next thing you know they’re second or third in line and they don’t have a ticket, or a chance to even pay these TicketMaster fees.”

Waters: “I have really one simple point to make, and that is that in certain markets in the United States, scalping is illegal, and I think it would be a very good thing if it was illegal in Chicago. And then this kind of situation wouldn’t arise. I’ve been brought into this because people write me letters explaining the situation, and it’s a problem when there’s huge profits being made by scalpers out of tickets that these kind of ordinary fans who can’t afford the prices they want to change don’t get to go see the show. And it pisses me off, big time.”

Waters: “I’ve had a number of ideas. The first thing that you do is you make selling on tickets to shows of say more than a 10% handling charge illegal, so people can be bust[ed] if they try to sell tickets at inflated prices. I’ve been told that the brokers who are advertising in the [Chicago] Tribune and the Sun are trying to sell front five row tickets for my show for up to $1500.00, on a ticket with a face value of $50.00.”

Waters: “Apparently it’s already been through your legistature once, it went up and was about to be made illegal, and it was presumably the scalping lobby was too powerful and it was overturned…. Maybe just a little more pressure from people like you, and people who are into the newspaper, maybe the newspapers who you’ve got represented there today shouldn’t carry the brokers’ adverts. Pressure, just pressure!”

Mancow: “Somebody got paid off… If you want a decent ticket, you have to go through these ticket brokers.”

Michaelson: “I looked in the Tribune this morning. There are twenty-four ads for ticket scalpers — they’re not brokers, they’re scalpers. They are *parasites* that *leech* off of people. They’re no different than a smack dealer or a crack dealer or Jerry Falwell or whoever else. They’re taking advantage of people. There were five ads this morning for Roger Waters tickets. Five, on Friday, and that’s ridiculous. And these guys cause us to do a lot of different things so that the people get harmed. And we have to put wristbands on people and numbers and, it’s all bullshit!”

Waters: “In New York City for example, scalping is illegal. So it means if somebody comes up to you on the street outside the theatre or puts an ad in the paper trying to sell a ticket at a hugely inflated price, they can be bust, and that’s how it should be.”

Barry: “Basically in the industry what we do is we buy tickets on the aftermarket. The problem with the Roger Waters show and the fans not getting the tickets isn’t necessarily that I was able to get 20 or 30 tickets by conventional means. The problem was that Roger Waters is *so* popular, and he’s playing such a small venue, and that if we do the mathematics — I mean, TicketMaster has 150 or 160 or more outlets that a person can buy tickets at, the venue hold 4000 or less.”

Waters: “When you’re standing in line then, what you are doing, because you are buying those tickets to sell on for a profit, is you are denying somebody who wants to go and see the show the opportunity of buying a ticket. Tickets should be sold to people with I.D.,and either you go and see the show or you don’t go and see the show. But to buy the tickets and sell them on at a profit I think is disgusting.”

Waters: “If you want to run the service for those people, that’s fine. Run the service at 10 or 15% for your trouble and sell on the tickets or whatever, or sell them to the other fans who are working in a *factory* or something — never mind the doctors and the lawyers! There are tons of people who can’t be necessarily standing in line, you know. I understand that.”

Waters arranged for two tickets for fan Thomas Frank who wrote to him about the problem.

Waters: “You know, we can’t take care of everybody because, for obvious reasons.”

Waters: “You should be selling $50 tickets for $55 or $60. Any more than that is clearly profiteering.”

Barry: “Ours [Waters tickets] start at $125 for seats in the balcony. The closest seat that we ever saw in our office was twenty-somethingth row on the floor.”

Waters: “Last time I toured was in 1987, and it was when my ex-colleagues were out on the road playing in football stadiums, and I was out there kind of scraping around. This guy that you’ve got there now, and a number of other people, came to my shows and I was bloody glad to see them there because,believe you me, there were no scalpers buying tickets to those shows because by and large they weren’t fully subscribed so there was no profit in it for people. And it just pisses me off that these loyal people who’ve been following my career can’t get all the tickets to the shows because people are making huge profits out of the tickets. Because for some reason or another, God knows why,suddenly people wanna come and see me perform.”

Waters: “Why not just make scalping illegal? It’s illegal in New York. Why can’t it be illegal in Chicago?”

Michaelson: “The problem is people are apathetic thinking that they can’t make this work, they’ll never defeat the scalpers. But if we get someone like you, Mancow, who can get on the air and get something going positive to stop these guys and get laws passed that would outlaw what they do and, like Roger said, put a 10% comission on it, that’s it. [To Barry] But don’t sit there and try and justify what you do as being helpful to anybody. You’re ripping people off, and other people can’t get ’em. But Mancow, if you make this a cause, you can make this work. It was passed, and then it was reversed in the next session. Go to the sporting events, go to the concerts, go to the plays and look who’s sitting in the front rows. It’s the politicians.”

Cotton: “I think it’s all great that everybody’s concerned about this issue, but you know, you brought up Eddie Vedder doing this same sort of thing three or four years ago. You know he was out there [?with a saw?] and everybody was sitting there on the ground saying, ‘Start hacking away, Eddie. You know, nice try but we’re not going to follow you out on that limb.’ So it seems to me that this has been attempted before and there was a lot of apathy; the artists didn’t back him up, the fans didn’t scream for him to win his battle. All they screamed about was ‘Why can’t I see Pearl Jam? Why isn’t Pearl Jam touring?'”

Michaelson: “Eddy Vedder’s situation was against the TicketMaster service charge, not the brokers. That’s what we’re discussing here. You can’t confuse the two. Charging a five dollar service charge versus marking something up 50 to 100 to 200 to 300% is the issue here.”

Barry: “What we have here is a commodity in one respect that entertainment is a commodity. People are going to pay for it, whether they pay Jerry’s price of $50 or whether they pay $100 or $1000, it’s ‘What is it really worth to the person?’ Let’s take another look: What if it were a Beanie Baby that were worth $6 when it was issued but we got people out there paying $500, or a rare coin when it’s issued from the mint it’s $20 and you have people that twenty years later,it’s rare, there aren’t many, and they want it so they’re gonna pay $1000 or $2000 for it. It’s America. This is what it’s about.”

Waters: “It’s not illegal for the free market to take it’s course with a coin or a painting. I doubt very much that there have been moves to outlaw the collecting of comics or — I have no problem with that, with people paying a lot of money for a rare coin or a comic, or anything else that they might want to collect. The two are not the same thing, and whoever was suggesting that it is is full of shit, if you’ll excuse me. That’s not right — it’s a different thing. This is me, Roger Waters, putting on a concert, doing a deal with a promoter, we work the finances of it out and we do it in such a way because I don’t want to rip people off. I want it to be a fair deal where I can afford my band and cover my expenses and people come to the show and we have a good evening….”

On a reunion:

Waters: “It’s not going to happen. I can understand people wanting it to happen because these things always look different from the outside than they do from the inside. People have a lot of nostalgia for those old days when we were a band, and we did some great work together, and I have a lot of respect for the work that they did then and what we did together, it was great, but we grew in our different ways and parted, and we’re very different people. We don’t have a great deal in common. And so to work together would not be a good idea. There would only be one motivation for getting together and that would be money. And that’s — I’m not starving. I don’t need the money, so I would feel that would be a retrograde step. I’ve felt kind of that our situation together was in some ways crushed beneath the weight of our own success anyways, and the money and the numbers and the amount of people and the huge audiences, it started to become more important than the more fundamental things of expressing ideas and communicating with people and so on and so forth. And so I have no hankering at all to throw myself back into that arena… To quote the old song, ‘It could be turned into a monster if we all pull together as a team.’ Well we did, and it did.”

On Syd:

Waters: “He’s still living in Cambridge, he’s still schitzophrenic, he still goes up and down. He’s pretty down most of the time. He lives on his own. But he survives. I haven’t seen him for umpteen years but when he does get contact with those days, with the late 60s, I’ve heard that it’s unsettling, the doesn’t like it, it doesn’t make him happy either.”

On the upcoming concerts:

Waters: “What you won’t see is the lighting tracks. We’re gonna do the show with no overhead lighting. I’ve become disenchanted with all that hanging lots of lights in the sky and flicking them on and off rather irritatingly.”