- 12 Jun 08
Reports of the demise of the concert business in Ireland have been greatly exaggerated. In fact the business has never been healthier, says leading concert promoter, Peter Aiken
Concert promoter Peter Aiken has hit back at media reports that the concert business is in a state of crisis.
"From where I'm standing nothing could be further from the truth," he told Hot Press. "You get these reports which suggest that because you have tickets left for an outdoor show, the shows are doing badly. That just reflects how little people in the media know about the business.
"We have sold 20,000 tickets for Neil Young in Malahide Castle. That's the biggest show on his entire European tour. The last time he was here, he did a Point show. The same with Eric Clapton – again, we've sold 17 to 18,000 tickets over a week before the show. That's phenomenal business for someone who did The Point last time around."
Aiken points out that Ireland is extraordinarily busy not just during the summer months but all year 'round.
"Visiting artists always comment on it," he says. "They can't believe how busy it is here with gigs, compared to anywhere else – even LA, which is supposed to be the entertainment capital of the world
"Of course there are some shows that won't sell out, but it's always been that way," he says. "One article made the point that Dolly Parton in Kilkenny hasn't sold out. But we've sold 18,000 of 22,000 tickets. There's still ten days to the show, so that will continue to sell. But we've also sold 5,000 tickets for her show in Cork and 12,500 in Belfast. Again, that's phenomenal business in a small market like Ireland, with tickets at €81 and €91. You can work out the figures yourself. And that's in the same week that 38,000 people are going to see Kylie in Belfast – 25% of them from the South. That was unheard of in the past.
"Journalists constantly get it so wrong, it's incredible. If there is the same level of accuracy in political reporting, then we're in big trouble. I just won't be able to believe a word I read any more."
What concerns him is that one inaccurate story feeds another.
"There was another article in the Evening Herald today, which tried to suggest that gigs weren't selling because of the price of tickets," he says. "The whole article is just so badly researched, amateuristic and inaccurate. It's disgraceful that people can get it so wrong – and yet this stuff is printed as fact. The concert business is in a very healthy state. Look at the Bruce Springsteen shows at the RDS – we did amazing business every night. Look at what we're doing at the Live At The Marquee gigs in Cork – that's an unbelievable success. Look at how fast Tom Waits sold out.
"There are so many inaccurate reports that people are going to talk themselves into a recession. Everybody seems to want to write doom and gloom stories – but that's not the way it is for us. And that is a fact."