While post-lockdown has bestowed many gifts and curses, music fans and students alike are feeling the impact of record high concert ticket prices.
Live concerts are invaluable experiences, both for artists and their fans. While prices depend on the artists’ popularity and the venue, the last couple of years have seen a universal spike in ticket costs.
With the current state of the economy, few concerts that sell seats for less than $200. For bigger names like Taylor Swift or Drake, it’s not uncommon to pay upwards of $500 for nosebleed tickets, and sometimes as much as $1,200 for fans looking to get closer to the stage.
These prices aren’t sustainable, especially for students and young people with an array of living expenses to cover.
The major increase in ticket costs over the past few years has left fans unable to see their favourite stars.
As young people represent the dominant demographic of concert goers, it’s in the artists’ and industry’s best interest to cater to listeners’ needs.
Though the exorbitant prices are a deterrent to some, they haven’t hindered the demand for concerts. Artists like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Drake frequently go on tour, with multiple sold-out concerts in enormous stadiums all over the world.
With artists reaping the rewards of inflation, the concert economy is as prosperous as ever regardless of ticket price. This doesn’t change the importance of addressing how these prices affect youth and students.
It can be difficult for students to devote a considerable percentage of their budget to a single event when they have financial limitations. After rent, tuition, and groceries, students hardly have a few hundred dollars left over to devote to a concert.
Instead of focusing on the economic benefits of high demand and high cost, it’s crucial for the music industry to consider inequality and resource allocation. Performers and promoters must strike a balance between charging a price for tickets that protects their financial stability, and keeping events affordable for an audience of mixed socio-economic levels.
Efforts to mitigate scalpers from infiltrating the ticket market pose burdens to fans. Most concerts are run through online stores, which come with several pros and cons. While online box offices allow fans quicker access to buying tickets from any place in the world, digital platforms are finicky at best, and leave many hopeful fans frustrated and without tickets at worst.
For concerts with extreme demand, such as Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen, ticket platforms like Ticketmaster mandate fans register for presale selection. Ticket buying slots are awarded in a lottery fashion, resulting in a randomized ticket distribution.
This ensures individuals who aren’t lucky enough to purchase tickets in the initial swarm of buyers and can’t afford the remaining seats have a fair chance.
With or without presale, popular shows often sell out within minutes. Many fans are then forced to purchase tickets from resellers—most of whom buy tickets for profit—at unreasonable prices.
When this happens, concerts become less of a community event, and more of an exploitative money-making scheme.
Concert ticket prices are only going to rise as this behavior continues. As this phenomenon grows, it’s imperative artists and concert organizers take steps to address it.
Some artists, like Taylor Swift, have implemented strategies such as the Verified Fan program, which prioritizes offering genuine fans the opportunity to buy tickets. While this approach is a step in the right direction, more comprehensive measures are needed to effectively combat scalping.
Noah Kahan announced for his upcoming tour dates, all resold tickets must sell at face value to ward off scalpers trying to rip off devoted fans.
More touring artists should adopt this policy.
The sheer amount of proceeds made from concerts have transformed host cities into thriving economic hubs. They bring in thousands of visitors, leading to increased business for local restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments.
Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour generated so much money that she gave bonuses and $100,000 gifts to her workers. Though her crew doubtlessly deserves the extra income, the excess of revenue implies there’s more than enough money going around to lower the initial ticket prices.
Concerts may be all the rage, but that doesn’t justify organizers and artists in charging unreasonable fees and overcomplicating the ticket-buying process.
These events have the potential to boost local economies and create a legacy when they’re managed effectively. In order to be a universally positive experience, they need to be affordable.
Concerts should be a shared experience. Artists, promoters, and fans should engage in a constructive and collaborative dialogue about how to make concerts more inclusive and accessible as the industry continues to evolve.
Taylor Swift’s many efforts to engage with her fans and host communities is an example for other artists to follow. Fans are real people, happy to set aside large amounts of time and money to go and watch their idols perform, but they need to be shown gratitude and appreciation as well.
It’s imperative that moving forward, concerts are recognized as a communal celebration. The music industry will do well to prioritize accessibility and inclusivity as they continue to chart their course forward.
Hannah Romkema is a third-year Con-Ed student.
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