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LOW NOTE
CONCERT PROMOTERS TRY TO MAKE SHOWS MORE AFFORDABLE

Get ready to hear music to your ears: Concert ticket prices are about to come down.

Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and Coldplay are set to go on tour -- but the real news for music fans is an expected drop of as much as 30 percent on some tickets, concert experts said.

Clear Channel Entertainment, the world's largest concert promoter, is leading the way, cutting the prices for its lawn seats.

The show-biz giant is considering running a big ad campaign with the tag line "Music Sounds Better on Grass," sources said.

No-frills seats at Clear Channel venues that used to go for as much as $40 will now cost $20. On top of that, Clear Channel is ditching the $4 facility fee it used to charge, all in an effort to lure back sticker-shocked music lovers.

"Consumers don't want to pay $45 to sit on a lawn," said Gary Bongionvani, editor of concert biz magazine Pollstar. "The public is pushing back."

Jonny Podell, who handles acts like the Allman Brothers and Cyndi Lauper, said he's cutting ticket prices for his acts this summer by 20 percent to 30 percent.

Top-priced tickets for the Allman Brothers will be $40, compared with $50 last year.

And it's not just heritage rockers who will be charging less. The highest-priced ticket for contemporary singer Gavin DeGraw, who also is touring this summer, will be $30 -- a number seen as affordable for his younger fans.

When Motley Crue comes to New York's Jones Beach Theatre this summer, prices for the midlevel seats will be $42, 30 percent less than what they would have gone for in past years.

"We're pricing tickets in a way that does not exclude any consumer," the band's agent Peter Pappallardo said.

Concertgoers could use a break. Ticket prices have more than doubled over the last decade, with the average price hitting $52.39 last year, while inflation over the same period rose 24 percent. The top ticket for Madonna last year went for an ear-splitting $300.

That's made ticket buying out of reach, especially for teens.

"When I was young, buying a ticket didn't cause any anxiety," Podell said. "Now you have to make a big decision."

Prices have spiraled up as artists have demanded more and more money upfront. Over the years big stars have been guaranteed a mega pay day -- whether on not they filled the venue.

Last year fans balked, refusing to pay up. Tours like Lallapalooza were canned -- though it's coming back this year as a two-day festival. Total ticket sales were flat at $2.2 billion, while attendance shrunk by nearly 6 percent.

In an effort to get prices down, Clear Channel is asking its acts to take smaller guarantees in exchange for a bigger cut of the box office.

Not every act is expected to cut prices. Must-see artists like McCartney will still command top dollar, with high-end tickets expected to go for as much as $200.

But concert promoters are making every effort to make fans feel like they are getting more value for their dollar. As a result many big names this summer will be paired on a single marquee, like John Mellencamp, who will tour with John Fogerty, and Stevie Nicks, who'll be paired with Don Henley.

"There are a lot of cool shows out there," said Ray Waddell, senior writer at Billboard magazine. "People have shown they need something worth paying for."

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