Being a music fan shouldn’t be inaccessible

Ticket platforms and artists should be held accountable for their outrageous  prices.

(Grayson Seibert / Daily Trojan)

Concerts are not accessible like they once were; the average ticket price in 1996 was $26, ($52.26 adjusted for inflation). Good luck seeing your favorite up-and-coming indie artist at that price in 2024. In 2010, paying something like $67 for a ticket was seen as a high price, but that is a normal price nowadays just to get in the door at a smaller concert venue. If you want to see more popular acts like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé, though, it will cost you a small fortune — with the average ticket price for popular artists being $103 retail. 

These numbers do not tell the full story, though. It makes sense that a smaller artist would charge less than a popular artist like Taylor Swift, considering that there is likely much more that goes into the show in terms of production and scale. Playing in a football stadium with 70,000 seats is not the same as playing in a theater with a 3,000-person capacity.

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The starting retail price for the “Eras” tour was $49, and the ticket prices went up to $499 for standard, non-VIP tickets — which went up to $899. Mind you, the only difference between a standard and VIP ticket is a few merch items, like a VIP tote bag. This puts the actual average of Swift’s tickets at nearly $300 for non-VIP tickets — even before Ticketmaster’s notoriously high processing fees. There was no way around these fees, as you could only purchase the tickets through the platform. There is nothing accessible about $300 tickets.

Another artist culpable for inaccessible ticket pricing is Bad Bunny. For his most recent “Most Wanted Tour,” nosebleed tickets ranged from $150-250 for his Los Angeles show, and floor seats were as much as $1,482. These were not the resale prices or prices including fees; they were face-value prices. There is really nothing to attribute it to other than greed. 

Yes, Ticket sales company fees add a tremendous amount of money to your ticket price, with fees ranging from 27% to 31% on average. But we must also hold artists accountable when they think it is okay to charge $150 as the starting price for their tickets. These high prices make concerts inaccessible to the general public and instead make concert-going an activity for the uber-elite. For Bad Bunny, this has become a reality. He stated that his “Most Wanted Tour” is for his “real fans,” suggesting fans that cannot shell out hundreds of dollars to see him are not his “real fans.” As a result, he has had trouble selling tickets and even recently canceled his show in Minneapolis, allegedly due to low ticket sales.

A silver lining lies in artists that are making their concerts more accessible for fans. For example, Olivia Rodrigo kicked off her GUTS World Tour on Feb. 23 in Palm Springs. I attended opening night and highly recommend going! To make the tour more accessible to fans, she started a promotion called “Silver Star Tickets” where select fans could purchase tickets for $20. The catch was that you would not know the location of your seats until you arrived at the arena and provided your credit card and ID. 

It seems like a bargain to me — if you could make it as a “Verified Fan” on Ticketmaster’s website. The issue, though, is Ticketmaster is not transparent about how it rules someone a “Verified Fan,” meaning your dad, who knows nothing about Rodrigo’s music, has an equal chance of getting the status as Rodrigo’s biggest superfan.

Similar to Rodrigo, Ed Sheeran has taken a stand in making his tours more accessible to his fans. Dating as far back as 2017, Ed Sheeran has made an effort to prevent his tickets from being resold at high prices. For his 2017 show in London, he canceled about 10,000 tickets that were being resold at highly inflated prices. This is a practice he has continued on his tours since then.

Artists truly have no excuse when they just put their hands up and act like price gouging is out of their control. Fans want to see their favorite artists live because they enjoy their music, and it should not be an impossible feat to pay for those tickets. As evidenced by Rodrigo and Sheeran, efforts can be made by artists to make their shows more accessible to fans. Touring is how artists make the majority of their income, but it does not mean that fans should have to miss rent payments to attend their favorite artist’s show.

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