In a 2007 interview with the New York Times, Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, mentioned that, though he has not sung any songs or publicly strummed a guitar in 30 years, he still receives more than $1.5 million a year in royalties.
Early this month, Stevens (who has decided to use his original stage name for this tour) announced the Peace Train…Late Again six-city tour. This is his first U.S. tour since 1976. Originally, it was supposed to begin in New York City, but, unfortunately for New Yorkers, he decided to cancel this concert. In a statement on his website, he blamed the secondary ticket market for the cancellation. “Unfortunately I will not be performing in NYC this time around,” Stevens announced. “I have been a longtime supporter of paperless tickets to my shows worldwide and avoiding scalpers. Unfortunately NY has a state law that requires all tickets sold for shows in NYC to be paper, enabling them to be bought and sold at inflated prices.”
Stevens has joined other artists, including Eric Church, Garth Brooks, and Bruce Springsteen in declaring war on ticket resellers. While promoting one of his concerts in 1974, Stevens said that he so displeased with ticket resellers “that at one point [he] seriously considered buying the tickets off of the touts and re-distributing them to [his] loyal fans.”
Stevens is a guy who says that he makes millions of dollars a year living off of his past successes. He did not seem to mind accepting money from his fans when it goes into his own pocket, but he is against the redistribution of his tickets. In 2014, it seems that his desire is to add millions to what he already makes off of his classic songs. One has to wonder, why now?
We asked Don Vaccaro, CEO of TicketNetwork , a leading online secondary marketplace for tickets, what he thought of Steven’s New York withdrawal, and his upbraiding of ticket resellers. “Cat Stevens is playing small venues in major markets to heighten demand”, says Vaccaro, “this appears to be nothing but a publicity stunt to create hype for his tour.”
Vaccaro sums this up well. By creating hype for the concerts, a performer will sell more tickets, which, in turn, will make the performer more profitable.
It makes one question how much Cat Stevens cares about his fans. Why not just park his Peace Train in New York, provide free downloads of those 40-year-old songs and free performances in Central Park?