I didn’t realize I was at a free concert until I was leaving the show, as arrogant and ignorant as that sounds. It wasn’t until my guest who had given me the extra ticket pointed out the pay-what-you-like boxes stationed at the exit of the Kool Haus, that I figured out everyone in attendance didn’t have to pay a cent to see the show – if they wanted.
K-os, a Toronto hip hop artist passed through Toronto with his YES! Karma Tour recently, a show that was partially sponsored by Rogers urMusic. They covered the basics of staging a cross-Canada tour of this magnitute to allow the fans to pay for what they think the concert should be worth.
The pay-what-you-like idea has been used in the sale of music on the internet by the likes of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, but has rarely been applied to concerts. K-os is the first artist in Canada to try out the concept of watch the show first, pay later.
Was it a success?
My observations: Very few people stopped to talk to the people stationed by donation boxes called ‘karma’ boxes and fewer people actually made a donation. Sure the idea of a pay-what-you like concert might be progressive, after all shouldn’t we pay for what we think the value of a concert is and not what promoters tell us it should be worth? In the end however, concert-goers and even hardcore K-os fans will take advantage of a ‘free’ concert and the show will receive less in revenue than if they were to charge a flat rate for the show.
I guess that’s why they call it the Karma tour, since K-os is giving something to his fans, wouldn’t it be fair to get something in return?
My final comment: Without Corporate sponsorship, pay-what-you-like concerts will not be money making ventures.
So to all those people who didin’t pay for the concert, you better be careful or the Karma Police will come after you.