Sunday, May 15, 2005
Google Saves The Day, and Sting Makes The Night...but Ticketmaster Rules The World
If there had been a roof over Jones Beach Theater—the 14,000-seat open-air amphitheater on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean where, come spring, bands not big enough for six nights at the Meadowlands start playing in a great venue mixing salt air and good acoustics—Sting would have blown it off Friday night.
It was the last night of his six-week U.S. tour, and he played with a stripped-down band, half the size of last year’s eight-piece, bells-and-whistles (actually synthesizers and bongos) group, ripping through a wide swath of his catalogue, back to early Police and new Sting, with the Beatles thrown in for good measure.
It was the best of him I’ve seen—but I might not have made it without Google.
For some reason this tour didn’t generate much exposure for the man who once led the biggest band in the world before going on to that rare thing in rock music: a long and highly productive career, along the lines of Clapton, Bruce, Bob Marley (until cancer got him) and Van Morrison.
Consequently, I went in with no expectations. Since I hadn’t seen a review anywhere of the tour, I figured it was another Sting show, with some new semi-Moroccan noodling alongside the usual mix of old Police and middle Sting.
In fact, I was so out of it I’d forgotten what I’d done with the tickets. Usually I do will-call, but when the time came to get ready to go, I realized there was no record of it on the receipt I’d printed out and stuck on the wall.
Since we were leaving in a half hour, and since I’d invited friends along, I was especially frantic trying to find where the tickets were—had they mailed them? If so, I was dead, because we didn’t get any Sting tickets in the mail. Were they email tickets? Could be, but I had no idea where the email might be.
I remembered downloading Google’s “Desktop Search” program a few weeks ago. It had taken two minutes to download—none of this “fill out the registration form” and “restart your computer now” and “would you like to receive annoying email updates every three minutes.” Just download and forget.
A couple of days after downloading “desktop search” and forgetting about it, I did a Google search that brought up—along with the usual list of search results—a term paper my daughter had written that contained whatever it was I’d typed into the search bar.
I thought that was pretty cool—an unobtrusive and very logical way of doing desktop search. But I still couldn’t think why I’d use it…until I was trying to find those tickets.
I typed “Ticketmaster Sting” into the search bar, because I had bought the tickets through Ticketmaster, the ticket-selling service that Pearl Jam tried to go around a few years ago, before discovering that Ticketmaster has a monopoly that makes DeBeers and Microsoft jealous.
(Pearl Jam soon realized that Ticketmaster is more powerful than most Government Agencies as well as Russian President/Czar/Dictator Vladimir Putin, and backed down. The bad publicity, however, made Ticketmaster so sensitive to appearances that, in return for taking your order over the internet for tickets that they send to you via email—a process that costs Ticketmaster as much as seven or eight cents to accomplish, what with using up all those electrons—they charge you a “Processing Fee,” a “Service Charge,” a “Delivery Tithe” and an “Enjoyment Surcharge” which in aggregate may by law amount to no more than triple the actual cost of the tickets.)
As I was saying, I typed “Ticketmaster Sting” into the search bar.
(This is a bit off-topic, as we say on Wall Street, but, my solution to the airline crisis in America is to have Ticketmaster handle all airline tickets and rebate half their airline-ticket fees to the airlines. This would give Ticketmaster a monopoly on air travel in the same manner they have a monopoly on concert tickets, and along with the “Processing Fee” and “Service Charge” and “Delivery Tithe,” Ticketmaster could add an “Airplane-Wings-Secured Fee” and a “Pilot-Wearing-His-Contact-Lenses Charge” and “Engines-Not-Inspected-By-English-Majors Surcharge.” Prices would immediately triple or quadruple, and the airlines would be healthy again.)
In any event, after typing in “Ticketmaster Sting” into the Google search bar, up popped the usual search results, plus, at the very top, the email from Ticketmaster containing the PDF file with the Sting tickets.
I clicked on the email, printed out the tickets and we were ready to go. Very slick.
We made it to the venue, got our seats…and Sting and his band ripped through most of the best of his entire catalogue, including a bunch of Police stuff I’d never heard him play—Demolition Man and Voices Inside My Head among them—as well as some terrific newer stuff, including I Hung My Head and a great version of the Beatles’ Day in the Life.
He brought the house down.
And thanks to Google, we were there in time to see it.
Now all the gang in Mountain View has to do is come up with an alternative to Ticketmaster, and they will rule the world.
I Am Not Making This Up
The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations.
Posted by Jeff Matthews at 11:42 AM