Why have concert ticket prices risen so drastically?

Tickets to watch your favourite artists perform live have become more expensive than ever. But, why have the prices hiked up so much? Is it because of COVID? Or, is there only so long we can continue to blame the pandemic for the way things are run?

Harry Styles with his arms in the air singing into a microphone
Credit: Getty Images

Putting the con in concerts?

It’s no secret live concerts seem to have become pricier than ever. It seems just as we’ve got our hands back on live events, they’re being taken away again due to the extreme price rise. Fans are finally able to see their favourite artists perform again, but now, they’ll be set back more than ever. With the current cost of living and prices increasing all round – can anyone really afford the increase in concert tickets?

Why is it that tickets once costing £40/£50 are now double that? Some big name acts are selling tickets for anywhere from £100-£300 which to most, is simply not affordable. Is it demand causing the increase? There’s only so many tickets that can be sold to each event. Or, is it greed? Not necessarily from the artists, but also venues and ticket merchants. The fact value of a ticket can be set by the artist.

Resale websites

This can change depending on the venue, location and even what fans are willing to pay. After all, every artist wants to make a profit, so if they can earn more they likely will. Ticket prices can again be increased when it comes to things like resale websites. They’re out to make money, so your average ticket can even double in price. However, again, it comes down to fans being willing to pay for them. If fans are purchasing off ticket resale sites, then the sites have a demand.

In theory, these websites can charge what they like while the demand is there. Not all money earned through a ticket sale goes to the artist themselves. There’s a whole array of things that the money must be split between. Lighting, props, transport, security, hair, makeup, the venue, sound, support acts – the list is endless. Everything that goes into creating a fantastic show, must be paid for. This is why smaller gigs cost a fraction of the price of larger ones. It’s due to the amount of money that’s being spent behind the scenes.

Where does the money go?

The money doesn’t go directly to the artist. This is important to note, because many think the increase in price comes back to the performer themselves. When, really, there is much more to it than greed. Venues are struggling to keep food and drinks costs low. So, you’re spending more on getting supplies to the concerts. Which of course is a lose-lose for the ones buying the tickets as once you’re there, you’ll then have to pay the painful cost to buy snacks or a drink.

Production costs themselves have gone through the roof. The increased costs come from the cost of living as a whole being on the rise. Truckers are standing down and changing careers which means there are far less people to fill the rolls. If you have fewer drivers transporting, props, food, equipment etc, but the demand remains high – then the price will increase. It comes back to supply and demand. Who is willing to pay more for the service, gets to secure it. However, venues need to secure the service, so they’ll have to pay the higher fee.

Supply and demand

With more people in demand, prices go up. You could have a lighting engineer who once charged £100 now asking for £200 simply because they can. They’re getting more and more requests. So, naturally they’ll offer their work to the highest bidder essentially. When restrictions were largely in place, venues couldn’t sell out to their normal capacity. They needed to make up for this loss somehow, so they increased their fees. Meaning, ticket prices then had to increase to cover this.

“A promoter only makes a profit after 75% of the tickets for a show are sold” – Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust. This means, a lower amount of tickets sold will make a loss. Promoters can’t afford to make a loss, otherwise just like any industry, they’d go out of business. It therefore makes sense for them to up their ticket prices in case they don’t sell out. That way, they can ensure they’ll make their money. However, you could alternatively argue that the big names will always sell out. So, do you need to add on extra fees as protection?

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