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Concert tickets reach new price heights

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Concert tickets // Illustration by Kate Walker

Concert tickets reach new price heights

 

Future. Concert ticket prices are soaring thanks to a variety of factors, but mostly because the music industry wants to capture sky-high sales on reselling platforms like StubHub and Vivid Seats. But as prices soar on those sites, the music industry may find itself in a vicious cycle of upping prices… eventually out-pricing younger fans that are at the heart of hyping culture.

No showstoppers
It’s not just you — concert tickets are going through the roof.

  • Last year, ticket prices increased 14% in North America and 11% worldwide compared to 2019, per Live Nation.
  • Why the price increase? A little to account for inflation, a little to cover upgrades in production quality, and a whole lot to keep pace with the secondary market (more on that in a sec).
  • Ticket sellers are also charging more (and making more) by offering VIP frills (sound checks, Q&As, etc.), and dynamically pricing seats based on demand.
  • Still, those prices aren’t slowing people down. Concert ticket sales were up 45% in the first two months of the year in comparison to the same time in 2019.
    • And merch and food and beverage sales have gone up 10%.

To give an example of the price surges, a Tame Impala ticket will run you $74.10 compared with $52.23 pre-pandemic, while Billie Eilish hits the wallet at $118.89 this year, up from an average of $70.50.

Scalp trap
Back to secondary market shenanigans: Jay Moss, senior vice president, and agent at Wasserman Music, says ticket providers are also aggressively raising prices to be more in line with how much scalpers are selling them for on the secondary market. “If a fan is willing to spend $400 on StubHub and the tour is selling those tickets for $100, there’s a pretty big gap there […] You don’t have to start charging $400, but there’s a lot of room in between those numbers.”

That’s terrifying news for anyone on a budget and who relies on hitting that “enter queue” button on Ticketmaster like they’re in a Wild West duel. It’s already hard enough that ticket prices have increased 55% over the decade prior to the start of the pandemic, even while the average revenue generated per show has more than doubled.

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