Music Industry

The Real Reasons Concert Tickets Are So Damn Expensive

While I was cleaning out the basement in preparation for a big renovation, I found my old shoebox full of concert ticket stubs. Elvis Costello for $7.00. KISS for $9.00. Rush for $10.00. Even adjusted for inflation, those tickets were insanely cheap compared to what we’re paying today. What happened? Fader takes a look at why it costs so damn much to go to a show these days.

In 2016, one Twitter user infamously claimed to have spent her rent money on Beyoncé tickets. A few months earlier, stand-up dramedian R. Eric Thomas wrote to the singer after finding that two general on-sale tickets for the Formation tour would cost him $600: “I didn’t pay $600 for my bed and my ass is in that every damn day.” Nasir, a 21-year-old Drake fan from London, told The FADER he didn’t buy tickets for the rapper’s Boy Meets World tour in 2016 “because there’s no way I would pay £110 for non-seated tickets.” The most he has spent on concert tickets in the past is £50. 16-year-old Jessica from Las Vegas agrees; she told The FADER, “The price for major concert tickets in 2017 is insane. The most I’ve spent on concert tickets is $225 per ticket a couple years back. That price got me a VIP package including a goody bag and floor seats in a stadium. This year I’ll be lucky to find seats anywhere near the stage for less than $400.”

These fans aren’t overreacting. Major pop concert ticket prices worldwide increase at a rate much faster than inflation, and that’s why each year they appear to be even more overblown. In North America, average ticket prices overall increased by 20% between 2010 and 2015. According to trade publication Pollstar’s end of year report in 2015, the price of tickets to live music hit an all-time high that year, with an average cost of $74.25. This decreased by 2% in the first half of 2016, but tickets for Drake, Adele, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga still appeared on sale for hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37832 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The Real Reasons Concert Tickets Are So Damn Expensive

  • For years, I’ve said that I would prefer to spend my evening seeing a local band at a small local venue than pay the prices to see a “big name” band in a stadium. Not only will be I supporting up and coming local artists and venues, but rather than spending $100 on a ticket, that $100 will probably get me a ticket, dinner, a t-shirt, many beers and a cab ride home.

    It’s a bit of a simplistic, smug response but it’s still my personal preference. I think the real tragedy here is young fans who can’t just go see a band at a local venue because there are very few good local all-ages venues. The local Carpenter’s Union hall can only put on so many shows.


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