BetteBack Tid-Bette: And Yes, The Public Is Still Treated This Way!

Canandaigua Daily Messenger
February 15, 1973

Being an avid fan of Bette Midler I rushed to get tickets when I heard she would be in town. 1 asked for two, main floor center, hoping to get in the first few rows, only to find that the “best” available were in the fourth row on the far right.

There were none for the center main floor, I was told, because the promoters had taken them for their use.

Is the public always treated this way?

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10 thoughts on “BetteBack Tid-Bette: And Yes, The Public Is Still Treated This Way!

  1. This article evokes memories of standing in line overnight (with Richie and Claudia) at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francsico, to secure front row center seats for Bette. The line got quite long (we were fifth or sixth in line), as we waited 12 hours for the box office to open. The “Guardian Angels”, a snappy beret-wearing community watch protective unit promised to monitor the line to keep us all safe (a vigilante group?), and they were pretty good at keeping their promise. Nonetheless, I think Richie went on to work for BASS tickets (Bay Area Seating Service), soon to become Bill Graham Presents, just so he could snag the latest updates and seat information on Bette concerts. There was a lot of fun in trying to secure the best seats in the house, but yes, it does seem that the “best” seats in the house were always taken. Now, if you don’t have an American Express Gold card, or have a special online code, you’re seated even further back in the audience. My solution has always been to ask for a “single” seat, as opposed to seats in pairs. I’ve been amazed at how many times I’ve been able to squeak between people in the first few rows of the auditorium by simply asking for the best available “single” seat (sorry, friends, but once Bette starts her show, all my attention is given to her).

    1. You are very correct about the single seat option. I used to run several recod stores and we were also a Ticketmaster outlet,,,you could be the first one in line and not get near the front row….there were already blocks of seats hidden from the public….it was awful working for them….and the ticket buying public wasn’t so hot either….lol

  2. Mister D, I didn’t know that about you….thank you for sharing! I used to “live” at the “Wherehouse”, which was also a Ticketmaster outlet, and remember all too well of people buying blocks of tickets at a time. I rarely got a good seat from Ticketmaster, as there were so many outlets selling tickets at the same time…..even being first in line was a scramble and a challenge to beat out other people getting tickets the same second you were.

    I was one of the more polite public, but it was always a frustrating experience. You could be second or third in line, and the couple in front of you would want to look at the seating chart, ask questions, carry on a conversation, and I would be slowly boiling over (“hurry the eff up…’re pushing me back ten rows!”). Then, once they’ve found out their seats arent’ the greatest, they’d want to start all over (“well, what’s available in Section C, instead of Section B, etc.?”).

    This is why scalpers make so much money. If you want the great seats, you really have to pay for them. Did I say pay through the nose for them? Oh, the joy…..

    1. Yep I did that for quite awile and it’s the reason I’ll never go back to retail! You explained it perfectly!

  3. Ahhhh memories! I used to attend high school by a huge concert arena and would ditch class to buy tickets at the box office directly for Elton John, David Bowie, Rod Stewart and other rock acts of the time.
    I was able to get front row for the Bette Midler Songs for the New Depression show because it was a fundraiser, and people who supported the scene at the time had N O idea who this was, so LUCKY ME getting a meet and greet, autograph and photo……

  4. I don’t know. As a person who does this sort of thing for a living, it makes perfect sense to me that the producers would reserve the best seats for the people who are most important to them. In the non-profit world, that’s often big donors, people you’re trying to cultivate as donors, and special guests who helped make the night possible. I guess most people don’t know that’s done, but you should never assume that when tickets go on sale it’s just an empty house with every seat available. Now would I take the entire center floor section off sale for my VIPs? NEVER! But, it’s the promoter’s job to make as much money as he can, and if that means special high-priced VIP seats or reserving those great spots as comps for the people who make the artist’s career possible, so be it.

    I also think people are often WAY too picky about seats. If it’s front row floor versus last row of the top tier of a stadium, that’s one thing. But center floor versus right floor … trust me, you’re still gonna love it. But people act like their enjoyment of a show or concert is going to be terribly altered if they aren’t in the best seats in the house, and that just isn’t true. People sit in all of those seats all the time and have a perfectly lovely time.

    1. The last paragraph I agree with totally. It’s amazing how much time people spend on the left vs right sections and more. But the first paragraph is just bullshit to me. I don’t begrudge laying aside a few tickets for VIP’s…that’s understandable, but I’m talking about huge blocks of tickets and first few rows missing before the concert even goes on sale. It looked more to me that TM sellers were grabbing seats before the concert went on sale and maybe radio giveaways…

      With me it always comes down to ethics and fairness. To me Ticketmaster always wielded their power openly because they were/are a monopoly. I had plenty of chances, along with my workers to get great seats for any concert, but I wouldn’t allow it because it wasn’t fair…and yes, that included Bette Midler tickets.

  5. Well like I said, it must all be done within reason. Giant blocks of tickets? Definitely not fair. In a stadium it’s definitely going to be more than “a few” seats for VIPs, but there are ways of distributing it that doesn’t piss everyone off. But I’d also like to hear the promoter’s reason for holding back as many as they did in the locations they did. We really have no way of knowing why they did what they did.

    I guess my point was, just because tickets to a concert are put on sale, there’s never any guarantee that any particular seats or any particular sections are going to be available, no matter when you bought the tickets or how long you waited on line. The promoter certainly never said “wait on line to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale and you’ll get great seats!” That was simply an assumption on the part of the ticket buyer. Maybe there should be more transparency in the way all of that works, though.

    There’s also the flip side to this too … no show is ever really sold-out in advance. I’ve gotten some great seats to “sold-out” shows by just showing up at the box office on the night of the event.

    1. I agree with all you said…and I figured out about waiting till the last minute also. i don’t really know how promoters do things today…the time I worked for them was the first few years they started up, so they could have definitely made some changes since then. But the waiting till the last minute still bodes well! xx

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