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Why Does It Cost So Much To See My Favourite Band Live in Concert?
Have you been to any music concerts lately? It could be a rock concert, pop band, big band, even maybe an orchestra show. Then you have seen the price the tickets, outrageously high!
Then there are the fees added on; booking fees, processing fees, etc.
Here in the UK, we don’t have it too bad. In some countries, like the USA, ticket fees can be a huge part of the expense and why the tickets are so expensive.
And don’t get me started about the secondary ticket market.
The secondary market is where people who have tickets to sell, sell them online, at highly inflated prices. Sometimes you will see tickets for a show on sale at a high price, even before the tickets have gone on sale to the general public.
How did they get tickets before me??
The government wants to know as well.
Pre-Sales and Fan Ticket Sales
Tickets sell out quick for large and popular acts, in addition to high prices. So many fans are just happy to get a ticket, regardless of the price.
Bands know this, and began a series of pre-sales and also fan based or fan club pre-sales. In some instances if a credit card company is underwriting or supporting the tour, tickets can be under a pre-sale that by using that credit card you can buy tickets a day before they are released to the general public.
It is a way to try and insure you get a ticket. Sometimes you have to pay a fee to join the band’s fan club. You pay say £35 for a year’s membership, and you get early access to concert tickets. And the band generates a bit more money.
Why Do Bands Charge So Much For Tickets?
As you read on, you will get a better understanding of this, but to put a different perspective on matters, sometimes the high ticket prices are not the band’s fault.
A band may have a fee they charge to play. If the Rolling Stones or Sir Paul McCartney are to play a show, they may require a £1 million guarantee to play or more. They can also ask for a fee, plus a percentage of the door, or ticket sales.
Usually only well established acts can command these fees.
The promoters of the show have to factor this in, and also their costs. Bands have expenses to factor in as well such as the travel expenses, fuel for the trucks and buses, the road crew, and huge productions do not come cheap, and naturally the band wish to make some money as well.
As with all bands, fees and prices vary.
This is from 8 years ago, but it gives you an idea of costs and what bands charge.
Here is another list, unsure how accurate this one is. Seems kind of cheap to me.
The Eagles and The Rolling Stones
It may have been the Eagles, a sort of rock band from California, who were and are still huge around the world. In 1994 they reunited after a 14 year break and began touring again. Naturally ticket sales were high.
The band Eagles, and their managers, noticed people were paying over a hundred dollars a ticket to touts, known as scalpers in the Colonies, to see the band. This was much higher than the face value of the ticket.
So what did the band do? They figured if people were willing to part with $100 a ticket to see the Eagles play, tickets will now be face valued at $100. Why give that money to the touts.
It is alleged and felt that the Eagles broke the $100 a ticket barrier.
The Rolling Stones did the same, as they were seeing their concert tickets being sold for much more than face value by other sellers. They may as well make that money.
Tiered ticket prices is another way to help fans get tickets. If you want to be in the front row, you pay a higher ticket price than someone who may sit in the Gods.
Many years ago Pearl Jam charged in the range of $55 for all tickets, no matter where you sat in the arena.
U2 a few years back, charged similar, $50 or so, if you wanted to be standing in the inner circle by the stage up close. Their system worked differently. If you wished to be sitting near the stage or in a good spot, ticket prices spiked upwards of $135.
Why all this complicated system and costs for tickets?
And as we will see, musicians need to make that money now.
Another Place…Another Time….Record Sales
Many moons ago, musicians made a healthy part of their income via record sales, or even CD and DVD sales.
Then along comes the Internet and Napster, and music is suddenly shred freely, and for free.
If a band sold millions of recordings, and many did, they could make a good income. The artist’s contract may only state they receive 5p or 5 cents for each recording, it can vary among the contracts the band’s signed, but it was a time when people bought records, CD’s and music.
This changed with the Internet, file sharing, torrents, etc. Artists sales income dried up a bit. But music is best enjoyed in a live setting, so bands continued to tour to make a living. Even older acts from the 60’s could still play various circuits, or be a part of package tours, and earn some money.
If you think bands make money off of the streaming services you pay for the listen to their songs, they do, but try something like .003% of each sale. Not much at all.
A side note:
If you write a hit song, or even a non-hit song, being the song writer and keeping your publishing rights is imperative and how you make money off your song. You get paid every time it gets played or used.
A side-side note:
Lets look at Dolly Parton, a musical icon!
She write the song “I Will Always Love You” in 1973.
A few years later as the story is told by Dolly herself, Elvis, the King Elvis, wanted to record his version of that song, however, he wanted half the publishing rights to the song.
Dolly refused, and good thing she did.
Years later the song was sung by Whitney Houston in the film “The Bodyguard”, and sold millions of copies, earning Dolly a nice royalty statement.
The Meet and Greets and Merchandise
If bands cannot earn a healthy living sell recordings, then concerts it is; and the Pandemic did not help at all! Bands are now scrambling to get back out there and play, and get paid.
Another way bands can earn some extra income is by adding on meet and greets at each show, and also selling merchandise.
Merchandise can be anything from t-shirts with the band’s logo and tour itinerary, to key rings, mugs, you name it, bands will put their name on it and sell it. Just look at the band Kiss. They are the greatest merchandising band every, and I mean ever! There are Kiss comics, a pinball machine, clothing, trading cards, electronics, condoms, you can even buy a Kiss coffin!
Just another was to earn money.
The meets and greets can operate in different ways. If you have a ticket to the show, you can pay an extra fee to meet the band and have photos taken, or some bands offer a show ticket in a premium seat and the meet and greet all for one price.
Meet and greets can be before the show, or after, different bands operate different ways and different policies.
As you can see, being a musician is not an easy job, if you add up all the years of practising since you were a kid, all the rejection you may have received from record companies, plus when on tour being away from family and home, and the expenses associated with touring, as I have said, musicians deserve to be paid well.
Here are some links to sites that show what some ticket prices have been for some shows.