Do you intend to take legal action against Madonna for her tardiness on stage? Keep in mind that she is an artist, not a service industry employee. | Written by Alexis Petridis

Estimated read time 3 min read


Initially, the report of two concert attendees in New York suing Madonna for her two-hour delay in starting a show at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center may evoke an eye roll. The way they express their dissatisfaction seems somewhat pitiful. Let me get this straight, you attended a concert and were bothered by its late end time because you “had to wake up early for work the next day” and dealt with “limited public transportation” on the way home?

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This statement may not hold weight with those who, like the plaintiffs, can recall a time before exclusive areas at festivals, corporate packages, VIP suites, lounges, and other modern additions that have transformed concerts into a hospitality industry. Back then, a certain level of discomfort and inconvenience was expected when attending a concert. This statement seems to highlight a sense of entitlement from the audience, treating artists as if they are part of the service sector and demanding that their precise wishes be fulfilled since they have paid for their ticket.

It’s ironic that a large part of the Madonna show that led to the lawsuit is a portrayal of the artistic, post-disco New York scene of the early 80s, from which the singer originated. This includes a dancer playing the role of Jean-Michel Basquiat and a replica of the Paradise Garage club entrance. It’s unlikely that attendees of Basquiat’s noise-rock band Gray or the Garage’s talented but drug-addled resident DJ Larry Levan would have thought to involve lawyers due to a delayed start and limited public transportation options for getting home.

However, in the past, individuals who attended concerts when discomfort and inconvenience were the norm did not have to pay the exorbitant prices that people are expected to pay for tickets nowadays. The cheapest tickets for Madonna’s shows in London were priced at £50, while the most expensive ones were £432.25. And that’s assuming you were lucky enough to get tickets during the initial sale and didn’t have to resort to buying resold tickets from sites like Viagogo, where tickets were being sold for £1,870 each. Unfortunately, this type of pricing is not uncommon for large arena shows. When individuals spend close to a thousand pounds on just a couple of concert tickets, they may feel a sense of entitlement. If they have to leave early to catch the last train home, they may feel dissatisfied and upset. This, one could argue, is the root of the problem. It’s not that modern concert-goers don’t appreciate what they have or make unrealistic demands on artists; it’s simply a matter of economics.


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