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 30+ 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.

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

  • January 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm
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    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.

    Reply

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