Billboard — January 21, 1995

VH1 Viewers Get 1st Dibs On Petty Tickets In 40 Cities
By Deborah Russell
Billboard — January 21, 1995

LOS ANGELES — VH1 reviews will have the first access to 16,000 Tom Petty concert tickets, which will be sold exclusively on the music network before being released to the general public.

On Friday (20), VH1 and TicketMaster will link to sell some 400 tickets in each of the 40 U.S. markets booked for Petty’s 1995 world tour. Tickets will be sold during a live, one-hour program devoted to Petty’s tour, which kicks off Feb. 28. Each caller will be able to purchase up to four tickets, and if the tickets are not sold out within the hour, they will continue to be sold through VH1.

The “VH1 Tickets First: The Tom Petty 1995 World Concert Tour” program airs Friday at 9 p.m. (EST). The show is independent of the MTV Networks’ home-shopping series “The Goods,” and it marks the first time tickets are being sold on ticket prior to their general release to the public.

“Our viewers have jobs; they’re busy, and if we don’t provide them with this opportunity to get choice seats, by the time they get around to finding out about the show and standing in line for tickets, the seats are gone,” says VH1 president John Sykes.

During the 60-minute program, VH1’s three on-air personalities, Moon Zappa, Michelle Austin, and Corey Glover, will provide sales updates regarding ticket movement in each tour city. The network also will display grids of the various venues showing the seats available for purchase.

Information regarding ticket sales and venue grids also will be distributed on America Online.

Ticket-service charges will be consistent with general Ticketmaster policies. No extra premiums will be attached to tickets purchased via VH1, says Sykes.

He projects the Petty ticket sale will lay the groundwork for future “interactive” promotions on the network. “We’re sending the message that VH1 is the place to find music and music information about the viewers’ favorite artists and tours,” says Sykes.

VH1’s efforts to promote Petty’s tour follow its November 1994 artist-of-the-month campaign on his behalf. Petty’s new Warner Bros. video “You Don’t Know How It Feels” from the solo album “Wildflowers” is now in the network’s “extra large” rotation.

While VH1 is not sponsoring the Petty tour, the network will continue to provide promotional and programming support throughout its run, Sykes says.

Petty’s manager Tony Dimitriades says he and Petty were eager to support VH1’s efforts to reposition itself as an aggressive music network.

“They’ve suddenly decided to get very active with current music and the right kind of music, and we wanted to encourage that,” Dimitriades says.

Plus, he and Petty were attracted to the service-oriented nature of the unusual promotion, he notes.

“This is a unique idea that’s never been done before,” says Dimitriades. “And on careful reflection, we felt we were providing a benefit to the fans.”

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