Sure, they say it every year: This summer's Ozzfest will be like none that came before.
But this time, it's true. Admission will be free. Yes, free.
"It's free to get in, but we're charging you to get out," the festival's namesake rocker deadpanned Tuesday (February 6) after spray-painting the word "Free" on an Ozzfest banner at a Los Angeles press conference announcing the tour.
Ozzy Osbourne was joking, of course, and fans can expect to attend the festival as usual, but this time without spending a dime — well, aside from parking, food, drinks and merch.
"Everybody has been so good to us over the years, and year after year ticket prices get higher and higher and higher," Osbourne's wife and Ozzfest co-founder, Sharon, told MTV News. "And we just thought we can't keep on raising ticket prices because there is not that much money out there anymore. Hey, kids can go online and download music, why not go to a show for free too? What the heck? Ozzy's got a new record coming out this year, he'll be touring the whole year. There is plenty of time to make money."
So far, only the fest's headliner is confirmed — Ozzy, of course — but the Osbournes hope to announce the rest of the lineup, including second-stage acts, in the next couple of weeks. Sharon Osbourne said none of the bands will be paid, outside of merchandise sales, but they will be encouraged to play shows on off-nights.
"You know what, we are giving them a stage. Even if it's for 30 minutes, be a part of an event, because this is what it is going to be: an event," said Sharon, who is expecting a more rotating lineup than in the past. "It's going to be a groundbreaking, great time for everyone. And we're saying, 'Go out the next night and get paid a zillion dollars.' "
Sharon, whose reputation as a savvy businesswoman is something of legend in the music industry, is turning to sponsors to keep the tour afloat without profits from tickets. Jägermeister reps were on hand at the press conference, handing out free garb ("Too early for drinks," one said).
'There's ways to make money," she said. "We're selling music at the shows too."
Ozzfest will launch in Los Angeles on July 7 and make stops in San Francisco; Seattle; Denver; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Phoenix; Dallas; Chicago; Pittsburgh; New York; Boston; Philadelphia; Hartford, Connecticut; Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta; West Palm Beach, Florida; and and Nashville. A full list of 25 confirmed cities and dates is expected to be released soon.
In order to get inside Ozzfest this summer, fans must visit the tour's Web site to find links that will direct them to special sponsor sites where tickets can be secured. More details regarding the process will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Ozzy's new, yet-untitled album is due in June and will be showcased during his set.
"To see the crowd, it's just magic, man, and I love them," Ozzy said. "I'm not one of these rock and rollers that go, 'They are privileged to see me.' I'm privileged to see them. Because without them — this is why we are doing it for free — without them, none of us have got a chance."
When asked if this would be the final Ozzfest, Sharon responded, "Hell, no!"
"I signed a pact with my wife and the devil," Ozzy added.
For more on Ozzfest, check out the feature "Backstage at Ozzfest."
[This story was originally published at 3:35 p.m. ET on 02.06.2007]