Natalie Merchant - new album, tour and ‘dynamic pricing’

I have today noticed that Natalie Merchant is releasing a new album in April 2023. She will be touring widely in the US for several months, and some dates, yet to be arranged, are promised for UK and Europe. This is all great news, just about my favourite artist of all time and a superb live performer. I note Ticketmaster are selling the tickets for the US dates, starting this week, using their ‘dynamic pricing’ model, which means ticket prices may go up or down (really?). I know very little about this approach. Is this the norm nowadays? Is it not just blatant profiteering? Does the artist actually benefit?


Luckily to have seen her live in London - in those days it was a matter of funds so a choice had to be made REM on the Green Tour or 10,000 Maniacs on the Blind Man’s Zoo Tour - chose the latter and never regretted it for a moment.


Always good news to know new NM material is coming.
I plan to go to a London date as and when venues are announced. I just hope she dedicates some of her set to the Maniacs and Tigerlily eras and its not an evening of obscure B sides.

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Thx for the update

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Yes I saw the Maniacs Blind Man’s Zoo tour and Natalie several times post-Maniacs (Birmingham, Manchester and even Buxton Opera House).

I’m sure her new album will be prominent at the new gigs, but hopefully there will be some Tigerlily tracks too.


I’m definitely interested in the album but wouldn’t joining queues for live performances. You use to just have worry about getting rip-off by scalpers now it’s the mainstream operators that are doing the ripping off.


I’ve never seen her perform but I did spend two weeks with her on an Italian course deep in the hills of Tuscany. It would have been mid-late 90s. I had no idea who she was.


Great story.

Isn’t dynamic pricing what airlines use? You have a good with a shelf life of zero. So I guess if you wait the prices will fall (as long as they don’t sell out).

I think Ticketmaster used this last week when selling Taylor Swift tickets. They made a lot of people very angry.

Lucky you! So she never let on? And never sang a word!?!?

Yes you’re right, it is what airlines use. Although with artists like Taylor Swift, and no doubt Natalie Merchant, demand will always exceed supply so prices will only go one way. I suspect this will become the new norm, driven by nothing more than greed (but not to the benefit of the artist).


What was the course? Language (as you said ‘Italian course’) or something more…ashram-y?

A curious Form needs to know!
(Oh alright, just me then…) :thinking:

For those who are interested this is the blurb that is being released at the moment

Nonesuch Records will release Natalie Merchant’s “Keep Your Courage”, her ninth solo studio album and first of new material since 2014’s self-titled record, on April 14, 2023. An eclectic album, produced by Merchant, it features two duets sung with vocalist Abena Koomson-Davis (Resistance Revival Chorus), contributions from the Celtic folk group Lúnasa and Syrian virtuoso clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, and horn arrangements by jazz trombonist Steve Davis. There are lush orchestrations throughout by seven composers including: Gabriel Kahane, Stephen Barber, Colin Jacobson, and Megan Gould. “Keep Your Courage” comprises nine original songs by Merchant as well as an interpretation of “Hunting the Wren” by Ian Lynch of the Irish band Lankum. The vinyl LP edition of Keep Your Courage includes four bonus tracks from earlier albums, previously unreleased on vinyl.

Your preorder purchase includes access to an exclusive virtual pre-release listening event on April 6 featuring songs from the new album and a conversation between Natalie and host. Details about the event will be sent separately along with a link and unique access code sent the day before the event - please look out for an email from FlyMachine. If you’re not able to attend on April 6, re-stream access is available for 72 hours. You’ll also receive a submission link for a chance to have Natalie answer your questions live during this special event.

Big Girls
Come On, Aphrodite
Sister Tilly
Hunting the Wren
Guardian Angel
Eye of the Storm
Tower of Babel
Song of Himself
The Feast of Saint Valentine


@steviebee It was Italian language, food and culture so lessons in the morning and then a mix of lunches in typical local restaurants or visits to sites of interest. Other days free to do what you wanted. It was a very small setup, far removed from the commercial schools in places like Firenze and Perugia.

@AndrewG I was sat next to her at dinner on the first evening and when I asked what she did she said something like ‘It always comes down to that doesn’t it?’ and then ‘I work in the music industry’. As I said neither Natalie Merchant nor Ten Thousand Maniacs would have meant anything to me and this was pre-internet so no access to Wikipedia. She didn’t seem very impressed by the majority of the people in the restaurant smoking!

There was an interesting mix of people including a commercial freight pilot from the Italian community in San Francisco who’d flown himself to Frankfurt on a 747 and then driven down to Poppi where the course took place. He started his career as a bush pilot in Alaska and The Northern Territories - real adventure stuff.

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Dynamic pricing has been used extensively for the Springsteen 2023 tour both in Europe and the USA. It has been applied more extensively in the USA than Europe where prices for tickets frequently exceeded $1,000 often for indifferent seats. It has prompted considerable outcry particularly for those fans who, historically, would have gone to multiple shows. Initially, Springsteen and his management had been noticeably silent on the issue. In view of his reputation for being “a man of the people” most hard core fans struggled to believe Springsteen was supportive and blamed the well-known ticket agency for the controversial practice.

However, in an interview last month, Springsteen acknowledged that he had sanctioned the dynamic pricing and was far from apologetic. That has not gone down well as there have been pages of multiple threads on the key fan forums. It has tarnished the reputation of a great artist. Perhaps a case of trust the art not the artist!

According to the ticket agency, less than 5% of tickets have been made available as dynamic pricing. That has not been independently verified. One of the problems has been that the dynamic pricing tickets were labelled as “platinum” tickets. Unfortunately, a number of people bought these believing they were buying something special only to find they had bought an “authorised touted” ticket.

It is believed that the artists will enjoy the uplift but share an element with the ticket agency. It may well kill touting but, personally, I have always believed that touting serves a purpose for those who are desperate to go to a show but have been unable to acquire tickets.

It does seem as though this will be the way forward for major selling shows/tickets notwithstanding that it has been widely condemned by the fans.

It’s all a far cry from the £1.75 ticket I bought for my first major show in the 70s!

We’ve now gone from scalpers to authorised touts.


Many thanks for the insight into dynamic pricing. It’s a truly egregious practice which means only those with deep pockets or some means of getting early access to tickets (e.g. by having appropriate memberships or possessing the right credit card) will be able to see their chosen performers.

Some of the prices these people are asking are well out of the reach of ordinary people. Most are under pressure financially as interest rates raise along with cost of living, people will need to make choices - food on the table or tickets to see some overfed mega rich rock star. I’m disappointed by Bruce’s reaction, so much for the man of the people.

I have read Taylor Swifts fans are suing Ticketmaster over how they’re managed to sale of tickets for her upcoming shows. Maybe we need more people to fight back or even governments step in as it’s obvious they are just gorging.

Incidentally in the late 70s I thought I was getting ripped off paying $24 (mind you I probably would have paid more) to see Bowie on his first tour down under. That was about a 5th of what I earned in a week, people are now paying thousands which is more than likely more than they earn in a week some probably a month.

I’d rather buy the music and listen at home than fuel this greed.


I appreciate the business model for music consumption has changed but I guess it says a lot about ticket prices (and indeed the artists) when Ticketmaster advertise finance available to spread the cost of the tickets.

I used to go to dozens of gigs but now find that I choose my shows very selectively. I attend only a couple of major shows a year. However, I still see a lot of “minor” bands in small venues which is what I much prefer now, particularly as these tend to be fairly priced. Stadium rock is no longer for me!

That said, very exceptionally, I will be at the Springsteen shows next year albeit my wallet will feel the pain. That has to be put in perspective with the fact that I’ve been a dedicated fan since 1977.

Like others, I’m happy to listen to the hifi rather than attend shows which is a great shame.

The problem isn’t dynamic pricing - it’s high prices.

I’m on the board of an off-Broadway theatre company - 199 seats per performance; limited run (7-8 weeks). We’ve been using dynamic pricing for years. We have hits, and we have misses. We need to max out on hit revenue to make budget. And for us, dynamic pricing sometimes means lowering the price for our misses.

Sadly as venues got bigger, prices went up proportionately, or maybe more. Over 30 years ago I thought it was ridiculous - a bigger venue so you’re further from the stage, with a noticeable audio time lag and needing binoculars - or then the obligatory screen, just like watching on TV, and the band plays fewer gigs to for the same overall number of people so prices should be lower… I only went to a stadium performance once, and said never again.

I far prefer small venues. And now they’re so priced so high I have no interest whatsoever in going to any of the big tours by anyone. I’ve been to many 100s of gigs in my lifetime, including big names of tge day, and I love live music - but I restrict myself small venues and mostly local artists plus occasional tribute bands - otherwise these days recorded music is far better.