Why are concert tickets so expensive? The spiral’s cause

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By Creative Media News

  • Rising concert ticket prices attributed to multiple factors, including demand
  • Music industry insiders debate artists’ role in ticket pricing
  • Additional fees and VAT contribute to overall ticket costs

Is artist avarice the cause? What are the expenses associated with the ticketing website? Tax regulations in the United Kingdom? Do concert attendees also contribute?

It is not uncommon to spend a significant amount of money to attend a concert featuring one’s preferred major artist; however, the current price of concerts has reached an unprecedented level.

Fans of Bruce Springsteen have paid more than £120 for “rear pitch” standing tickets for his May 2024 tour, while some have recently expressed dissatisfaction with the £145 price tag of standing tickets for Billie Eilish’s 2025 UK leg.

In the United Kingdom, it was possible to purchase tickets for Beyonce or Taylor Swift for £50 (excluding fees) by buying a “nosebleed” seat. However, these seats were in high demand and were soon sold out. Tickets for Swift’s Eras tour, scheduled to visit the United Kingdom next week, were priced at £110.40 for general admission standing tickets and £172.25 for front-row seats. It did not end there; by the time numerous admirers reached the head of the online ticket queue, the sole remaining tickets were priced at more than £300.

Therefore, what is the reason for ticket prices increasing? The Money blog examines several factors.

Fans are prepared to pay for significant events.

In other words, ticket prices would decrease if individuals exercised their right to vote with their feet.

Matt Hanner, the operations director and booking agent at Runway, stated that the prices at the highest tier had “risen significantly.” However, the demand was also a contributing factor.

He stated that stadium shows, greenfield, and outdoor festival-style events are becoming increasingly prevalent in towns nationwide.

An increasing number of individuals are willing to allocate a significant portion of their disposable income to attend a considerable music event.

Jon Collins, the chief executive of LIVE, the trade body that represents the live music industry in the United Kingdom, held a comparable perspective.

He stated that music enthusiasts have a “massive appetite” for “bigger spectacles” and that there are now more large-scale shows and tours than ever.

Costs associated with elaborate performances are elevated due to the expenses related to personnel, venue expenses, transportation, artists’ requirements, insurance, and numerous other variables.

Inflation, of course, influences each of these items. Collins also noted that ticket prices were influenced by the increasing expenses that had affected all venues, from the grassroots scene to significant arenas.

“Several variables are at play, including the production cost, the show’s spectacle, and the ticket price.” “However, you also have the fundamentals,” he added.

He further stated that the cost of venue rental has increased “substantially” in recent years due to the rise in electricity and gas prices.

“You have an increase in the cost of personnel…” Costs that are entirely justifiable, such as the minimum wage and living wage increases. We have these cost increases at every stage of the procedure, which will all contribute to the pressure on the ticket price.

Are artists engaging in greed?

The music industry is generally reluctant to disclose details, but many people are interested in the amount of money artists earn from live touring.

The individuals we conversed with indicated that the situation could have been more straightforward than the artist’s avarice, as numerous expenses must be paid before any funds are transferred to their accounts.

In 2017, The Guardian conducted interviews with anonymous insiders regarding this subject. The report indicated that promoters and artists received 50-70% of their gross earnings. In addition, the article referenced a frequently cited statistic that states the promoter will receive 15% of the remaining funds while the performer will receive 85%.

It is contingent upon the artist’s caliber and the promoter’s effort; they may receive a more significant portion if the show is difficult to sell.

According to the individuals we interviewed, the ticket price is a topic of discussion between music acts and their teams. The larger the act, the more influence they have; however, the promoter determines the price.

Forbes reports that Taylor Swift, currently among the most prominent pop stars in the world, is earning between $10 million and $13 million (£8 million to £10.5 million) on each stop of her Eras Tour. She allegedly receives an impressive 85% of the tour’s revenue.

However, it is also important to note that she has been known to be liberal with her money, having awarded $100,000 bonuses to the dozens of lorry drivers who worked on the tour.

What have other performers said?

Certain artists have expressed dissatisfaction with the exorbitant ticket prices that others are charging.

Tom Grennan told ITV two years ago that he had observed “a plethora of artists offering tickets that are significantly overpriced for the current era.” He also expressed his desire for individuals to attend concerts without the concern of being able to pay their bills.

To address the “greed” of the music industry and assist individuals in coping with the cost of living, singer-songwriter Paul Heaton was also commended for limiting the price of tickets for his tour with Jacqui Heaton to £30.

Yungblud, a British musician, recently announced the creation of his music festival, Bludfest. He stated that the industry was costly and required a “revolution.”

He stated, “Festivals and gigs are prohibitively expensive, and I am interested in developing an entirely new product.”

In the interim, Jack Antonoff, a frequent collaborator with Swift, stated that ticket cost was also a concern due to the “dynamic pricing” implemented by ticket sale sites like Ticketmaster.

He disclosed to Stereogum that he desired artists to have the option to opt out of the system, which essentially entails that ticket prices rise when a show is in high demand and that they should be able to sell them at the price they desire.

Ticketmaster defines its “Platinum” tickets as those priced according to supply and demand on its website.

The dynamic pricing system’s objective is to “provide fans with equitable and secure access to the tickets while simultaneously allowing artists and other individuals involved in the organization of live events to price tickets at a price that is more in line with their actual market value.”

The company asserts that the artists, their teams, and promoters determine the pricing and the use of dynamic pricing for their shows.

Fees associated with ticketing websites

According to the consumer champion, “Sneaky” fees by online ticket sites and dynamic pricing are also causing issues for live music enthusiasts.

According to a report released by the organization last month, the cost of concert and festival tickets can be increased by approximately 20% by various fees that are not disclosed until the final purchasing process.

Which? has advocated for a reduction in the “bewildering” additional fees, which encompass booking, “delivery” and “transaction” fees, venue charges, and occasionally, e-ticket fees.

Robert Smith, the main singer of The Cure, expressed his “sickness” on Twitter after fans complained last year about Ticketmaster’s processing fees, which were sometimes more expensive than the ticket itself.

In response to the Which? Findings: Ticketmaster (which was not the sole entity mentioned) stated, “Fees are typically established and communicated to our clients.” who all contribute their capital, resources, and expertise to organizing an event. Ticketmaster endorses legislation that mandates industry-wide all-inclusive pricing.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster filed a lawsuit regarding their “dominance.”

The United States government is pursuing legal action against Live Nation, the company that owns Ticketmaster, in response to allegations that the company is “monopolizing” the live events industry.

According to officials from the Justice Department, the company’s control over approximately 70% of the primary ticketing for concerts in the United States was unjust.

Live Nation has been accused of utilizing extensive contracts to prevent venues from selecting rival ticket companies, preventing venues from using multiple ticket vendors, and ominously warning venues that they could lose money and support if Ticketmaster were not chosen as the seller.

Live Nation asserted that the lawsuit was indicative of a White House that had relinquished competition enforcement to a populist impulse that defies the fundamental principles of antitrust law.

“Some call this ‘anti-monopoly,’ but in reality it is just anti-business,” according to the report.

It also stated that its profit margin of 1.4% was the “opposite of monopoly power” and that its market share had been declining.

The company stated that the lawsuit would not resolve customers’ concerns regarding ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows.

We will continue to advocate for reforms that genuinely safeguard consumers and artists, utilize this opportunity to illuminate the industry and defend against these frivolous allegations.

In addition to reportedly controlling most of the ticketing market, Live Nation owns and represents confident performers and venues.

Canadian artist Dan Mangan informed Moneywise that this allowed the company to acquire a more significant portion of the market.

He stated that lesser-known artists could receive as little as 20% of ticket sales when venue rent, equipment, and other expenses were considered.


VAT (value-added tax) is an additional significant expense associated with ticket purchases in the United Kingdom.

It is substantial at 20%. COVID-19 impeded the live music industry, decreasing to 5% and 12.5%. However, it returned to its pre-pandemic level in April 2022.

Collins stated that the charge places the United Kingdom “out of step” with other nations.

In competitive major markets such as France, it is 5%.” Italy’s percentage is 10%, while Germany’s is 7%. Sales tax rates in the United States are typically 6% or 7%. Therefore, we are considerably out of step with other markets in terms of the amount of VAT we impose on tickets,” he stated.

Touring has become a more significant source of income for prominent celebrities.

The importance of live performances has increased for the most prominent artists, as they are earning less from music production due to the decline of physical products and the rise of subscription listening.

Paul Stokes, a writer and broadcaster, stated that significant stars who would have toured infrequently in the past are now willing to perform more shows as it becomes more profitable.

He also mentioned that certain artists will reserve multiple nights at prominent venues such as Wembley Arena, which would have been unthinkable two decades ago.

“When Wembley was constructed, and they announced that they would be hosting regular performances, one would question whether there were acts of sufficient size to fill this enormous stadium.”

It has become integral to the live calendar that performers will perform at Wembley for two or three nights each summer rather than just one.

Stokes also stated that this demand has led to the increased size of the performances that we have come to expect, which include costly production and pyrotechnics.

It needs to be experienced uniformly.

Industry professionals also emphasize that ticket price increases are not inherently occurring at a lower level, even though attending a concert featuring a platinum-selling artist is likely to be an expensive experience.

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Collins stated that many other live music events would occur concurrently, ranging from the free pub gig to the £10 ticket at the grassroots venue to the £30 mid-cap. This was in addition to the arena shows that major artists were performing.

He stated that there is an infinite variety of opportunities for individuals to engage with live music, ranging from free events to the presence of the most prominent musicians in the world.

Nevertheless, Hanner observed that the “suppression” of prices for lesser-known acts may have resulted from concertgoers opting to save their money for performers they are more familiar with.

“The cost of living crisis has resulted in a shortage of disposable income for all individuals.” The fundamental costs of [artists and promoters] are also increasing, resulting in a higher cost for all parties. “That fear of pricing individuals out is only being exacerbated,” he stated.

This has resulted in suppressing prices at the lower level, even though they should have been increasing.

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