According to the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the music industry has yet another reason to fret: for the first time in 15 years, ticket sales from the top 100 concert tours fell 12 percent during the first half of 2010. It’s especially troubling for artists, who have relied on concert revenue (and accompanying merchandise sales) to make up for years of plummeting CD sales and illegal file sharing online.

I have a few ideas to address this problem:

1. Lower the (expletive) ticket prices. I know, “duh” — we’re three years into the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, which means that the choice between putting food on the table and shelling out bucks for a Limp Bizkit reunion isn’t too hard a choice. But ticket sales are still the same, if not higher, than they were before the recession. Want two floor tickets to see Paul McCartney? You’ll have to cough up $500, and that’s not counting parking, concessions and the array of fees tacked onto the ticket price. Speaking of which

2. Come into the 21st century. Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, Ticketmaster. I can order a pizza, pay my bills, manage my bank account, make hotel reservations and watch the entire final season of “Lost” online for free, but to buy a concert ticket, I have to pay a “convenience fee,” a “processing fee” and a “facility fee.” Even if I print the ticket myself. Small, mom-and-pop sites, such as Brownpapertickets.com, don’t charge exorbitant fees, and manage to do quite well.

3. Force the breakup of Ticketmaster/Live Nation. Ticketmaster’s monopoly wasn’t enough. No, it wanted a mega-monolithic-monster-opoly. Hence the merger with Live Nation, which until a couple of years ago promised to provide an alternative to Ticketmaster. Don’t worry, they told us, the merger will result in lower prices. Um, yeah.

4. Let the fans get the good seats. Let me say that again: Let. The. Fans. Get. The. Good. Seats. Ever go to Ticketmaster.com the second tickets go on sale and been told that the “best available” seats are in the third tier, row CCC, a football-field’s length away from the stage? That’s because hundreds of tickets are held in reserve for industry guests or ticket scalping (I mean brokerage) sites.

5. Eliminate gold circle seating and VIP packages. The former may get you a good seat, but for the price, it should be made of gold bouillon. And the packages? If you’re lucky, you’ll get a goodie bag and an autograph with your overpriced seat. If you’re lucky.

6. Don’t go to overpriced shows. If you’re one of the people paying $400 for a seat near the soundboard of a Rolling Stones concert, you’re part of the problem. There are plenty of artists around Maine who put on shows for $20 or less, and actually appreciate it. Check them out.

It’s much more convenient.

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

[email protected]