By Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Concertgoers sick of ballooning ticket prices should have some extra pocket change to rattle with their rock 'n' roll in the new year.
2010 was tough for the concert business as high prices kept many fans at home. Promoters now say they plan to make shows more affordable in 2011. But they'll also try to sell more T-shirts and other merchandise to make up for lost revenue.
Heading into last summer, usually the busiest time of the year, prices were set too high despite the sluggish economy. Managers and promoters believed fans would keep paying for the one or two concerts they see on average each year.
Instead, many stayed home and dozens of shows were canceled. Lots of venues filled seats with fire-sale prices.
Now, rather than charge lots early and offer discounts later, some promoters say they'll offer cheaper tickets from the start, partly because they know fans will spend as much as usual on beer and tchotchkes when they arrive.
ZZ Top, for one, expects to set prices below the 2010 average of $55. Some tickets will go for as little as $10.
"It's time to give the value back," said Carl Stubner, manager of the long-bearded rock band from Texas. "We'll find other ways to make money."
That doesn't mean all acts will be cheap — not even Cheap Trick, whose tickets for 2011 are selling for around $80 with fees. Fans of hot performers including Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga also shouldn't expect to get much of a break.
Neil Diamond, for instance, who's continuing his comeback tour in New Zealand in February, said he'd like to bring ticket prices down, but can't because of the size of his production.
"As the shows get bigger, the expenses get bigger, so it's got to be translated somehow to the ticket price," he told The Associated Press. "If I just used the guitar it'd be a lot simpler, but then I'd have to put 50 people out of work."