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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Welcome to the Cheap Seats (if you can afford them)

It’s all becoming a bit too much.
I’m talking about concert tickets.
Just today I read an article about the forthcoming Aerosmith/Slash tour over in the US with the tickets going for over 30% more than is the average norm.
To see your idols it could cost the UK equivalent of £162 plus some change.
Please keep in mind that this is prior to the booking fees and more being added on and that price has nothing to do with how much the legalised scalpers will charge.
For me it is just a step too far.
I was one of those people who splurged out all their savings to take my son and girlfriend to see The Who, and while I baulked at how much it was it didn’t come close to this.
Few people go to gigs solo so the reality is that you can double the ticket price and fees straight off the bat.
So if those prices were emulated here then for a big gig you could be looking at £324 plus booking fees for a couple before you have even left your house.

I remember this was a hot topic many years ago with the argument being that tickets for football matches were easing fans on lower incomes out of the picture.
Some could claim that this never eventually happened, but I suspect there are quite a few seats in stadiums across the country that were vacated by the poorer of us and now are being warmed by the bums of the upwardly mobile.
Attendances may not have changed much, but the demographic of the crowd probably did.

And now we are seeing similar with live music events.

To paraphrase Lennon “Would the people in the cheaper seats just rattle your jewellery."

If you can score a cheap-ish ticket for a show in an enormo-dome then the seating reflects what you will have spent with anything less than fifty quid leaving you sitting in the nosebleeds miles away from the stage.
I’m left wondering what the attraction of that would be.
Maybe opera glasses and a Sherpa should be thrown in with the ticket price.

The problem isn’t really about the prices though. It’s all about the acceptance of them.
If an artist can sell out a venue with the tickets going for over a hundred quid then who is to blame really?
Is it the artists, or is it those who will spend that amount?
Are we really just feeding this beast with our patronage?

There is always the point that with physical sales of music dropping that this is where the money is now, but should we the music fans be dragged into a situation that was created by the industry itself?

As a US friend pointed out, the poor are already out of the equation so it is the more affluent that are being targeted, and who could argue with that?

Tot up how much a ticket is for a Hydro date in Glasgow, then add on travelling expenses, cost of drinks and merchandise, and a night out for two can touch on £200 at a minimum.
If they are minimum wage earners then they are working 31 hours between them to cover that.
That’s nearly four eight hour shifts for one night out.

Of course music fans aren’t looking at it in this way, but maybe they should.

It’s a game that I am out of.
I can’t play it anymore.

There could be some exceptions, but in the main I have been frozen out of it.

I struggled to find any figures for the UK, but get ready to have an eye watering look at last years summer tours of the US here.


  1. Fair comments I reckon. I suppose with the downturn in music sales, live performance and merch (especially for heritage artists) is where money can be made. Thing is, if folk are prepared to pay those prices, they aren't going to offer cheaper tickets. Just bought Prince tickets for the Hydro. Most I've paid for a single artist.

  2. It's an ugly business.
    There are artists now who have been going for decades and never really made much due to the deals they had, and then with other factors, such as downloading, they took a second financial hit.
    I don't really begrudge them a pay day now, but there is a limit to what we can afford and going to the larger gigs will end up being something that only the wealthy can engage with.
    The upside of that is possibly those who can't afford the big gigs in the big venues may look for their musical kicks in the clubs and smaller venues meaning that fresh talent will see an increase in support.
    Fingers crossed on that.