Music fans opting for layaway plans on tickets

Mon Jan 5, 2009 9:36pm EST
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By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - What's good enough for Kmart is evidently good enough for rock festivals.

Many music festivals and events are offering layaway plans on ticket purchases. Among those adopting the approach are Stagecoach in Indio, California; Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee; and Country Thunder USA in Florence, Arizona.

In the case of Bonnaroo, set for June 11-14, this is the second year the festival has offered layaway. During its holiday presale period through the end of December, customers could purchase tickets for five monthly payments of $50 each, plus $40.90 in applicable fees and shipping charges added to the first payment. That compares with fees and shipping charges of $33.10 to $35.10 on regular presale tickets, depending on the shipping option.

The economy was just beginning its downward spiral last year, so rather than a direct response to the recession, layaway was "simply an acknowledgement that many of our fans are in college, maybe on a tight budget, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to purchase tickets without having to absorb the ticket price in one lump sum," said Ashley Capps, president of A.C. Entertainment, which co-produces Bonnaroo with Superfly Presents.

Noting that event producers were "pleasantly surprised" at the response, Capps guessed that layaway still accounted for less than 5 percent of total sales in 2007.

After offering a layaway option during this year's Stagecoach festival, co-producer Goldenvoice has decided to use the strategy for its flagship festival, Coachella, as well, according to Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett. "About 22 percent of the Stagecoach tickets and RV camping passes were bought on layaway."