Ticket prices for pop concerts are out of control – it seems that it all started with difficulties preventing fans from easily buying tickets for Taylor Swift’s current tour – but now this problem has gripped almost every pop artist from the stadium.
Once upon a time, everyone could see the performance of their favorite artist in front of thousands of people.
Take a trip down memory lane in search of your favorite pop legend and eBay ticket: try Elton John, who kept his last concert in Stockholm last July – and you’ll find that in 1975 it could be seen at London’s Wembley Stadium for just £3.50.
Elton performed at an event called Mid Summer Music which featured artists such as the Beach Boys, Eagles and Rufus & Chaka Khan.
The idea of seeing such an incredible number of artists in their heyday for such an affordable fee seems fantastic today.
Ticketmaster vs fans
Taylor Swift in 2023 is a reasonable analogy for Elton John in 1975 when tickets for the North American leg went on sale Swift Eras Tour in 2022demand was so high that Ticketmaster went awry.
However, when Ticketmaster was running, its “dynamic pricing” algorithm was pushing the cost of tickets to downright astronomical prices.
Fans were shocked by the situation: many were left without tickets, and many paid them much more than they bargained for the chance to see the singer.
A group of 26 fans even made filed a civil lawsuit against Ticketmaster, accusing him of fraud and antitrust violations.
Swift herself Furious by Ticketmaster“It’s really unbelievable that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that so many of them feel like they were attacked by a bear to get them,” she wrote on Instagram, adding that the distribution company assured her that they were able to meet the demand.
When it’s time to sell tickets for European part of the tourSwift tried to solve the problem.
This time, fans could pre-register for the tickets they were interested in: the stars of “Midnight” who bought the tenth album got access to a special pre-sale code.
However, for those who didn’t, the day of the sale once again felt like a scene from a James Bond movie in which too few living bodies are fed to an aquarium of predatory piranhas.
If you were lucky enough due to being able to access the ticketing screen, you may not have been able to select an available ticket, but were limited to those that don’t fit your budget.
There are people who have paid around £350 (€410) for normal big seating tickets: some of those who got tickets at affordable prices later found themselves sitting backstage stuck looking at the back of the sound system!
Taylor Swift has found herself at the center of the current debate over sky-high ticket prices – it’s important to note that this phenomenon is not unique to the singer.
As mentioned, stadium tour tickets for Beyoncé, Coldplay, Madonna, and even Elton John’s latest tour have involved complex booking processes and exorbitant prices.
It is also worth noting that touring has never been more expensive for musicians: the global inflationary crisis affects all areas of the event, from energy to transport.
British artists touring the EU also had to consider the growth of bureaucracy due to Brexit.
Another consideration is that few artists make significant amounts from record sales: with streaming services like Spotify that barely grant artists residual rights, touring and merchandising are the main sources of income.
But that’s not the case with Swift, whose popularity made “Midnights” the best-selling vinyl of the century.
One final note to artists: many of these large scale tours have incredible production value.
Anyone who has seen the countless videos from the Swift Eras tour or the Beyoncé Renaissance tour will attest to the impressive quality of the props, choreography and outfits.
However, one still gets the impression that these big pop stars are demanding too much from their fans financially.
There are understandable reasons why ticket prices have gone up, but paying a few hundred euros to see a performance is orders of magnitude more expensive than it used to be.
Before the pandemic, Muse could be seen at Wembley Stadium for £45 in 2009, compared to £68 (€79) today.
Radiohead cost £70 in 2012 and £95 (€110) today.
More recently, last year Kendrick Lamar performed in Amsterdam with the same number of impressively staged rooms, but tickets cost €89.60 for standing room and €78.40 for the best non-premium seats.
Similarly, Robert Smith of The Cure opposes ticket price gouging: The last tour of the legendary band became the best-selling and profitable in its history.
However, to achieve this result, The Cure did not have to resort to bargain prices: in fact, the group in partnership with Ticketmaster offer buyers refunds up to $10 (€9).
In addition, Smith ensured that all tickets for the tour were affordable, averaging $68.54 (€62.32), about 37% less than other similar artists.
Perhaps many of these skyrocketing prices are the result of one of the mitigating factors: greed.
Taking Swift as an example, her tour is one of the best-selling in history: she has one of the best-selling records of the century, she continues to re-release her albums, regularly releases new editions of them (many of these special editions are the only way to get tour tickets). ) and is probably one of the few artists able to make money from Spotify streams.
Calling it all a corporate machine designed to make money in the pockets of Swift and her team isn’t all that far-fetched.
The worst thing about all of this is that the fans are losing out: those who manage to get tickets are spending an amount that, during a cost-of-living crisis, would probably prevent them from seeing another artist of this magnitude for the same price. for a long time. .
What solution? Either the fans flat out refuse to spend, or it will take more artists to take Smith’s place.