Remember when going to see Britney or Beyoncé cost roughly the same as dinner with wine? Now it’ll cost you a weekend vacation: from 2015 to 2019, average ticket prices for the top 100 tours in North America rose from $73.86 to $94.83, with top acts spiking, according to Pollstar. Lady Gaga averaged $288 this year in her Las Vegas residencies, and the Rolling Stones averaged $226. Keep in mind that these averages include the prices for not-so-great seats.
The industry is, according to the Wall Street Journal, taking its cues from the airline industry—whose ticket strategy, we’d like to point out, everyone hates (see: baggage fees, no perks, difficult refunds, headache booking). Ticketmaster and others now offer dynamic pricing, so that ticket prices rise in real time along with demand. Concertgoers are now also weathering the creation of “premium” aisle seats, which set you back as much as $30 extra.
But it’s the seats at the front of the house that are pushing up revenues, often hitting four figures, plus VIP packages. Live Nation says that its front-of-house pricing was up 30% globally over the 18 months that ended in June. Ticket sales—aka “butts in seats”—are not actually growing substantially. They’re up 5% this year, so jacking up ticket prices is currently fueling the intensive growth of the industry: In 2010, the top 100 shows grossed an average of $674,000, which has grown 91.1% to $1.29 million in 2019, according to Pollstar’s end-of-year report.
“We believe the ticket is completely still underpriced,” Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in an October earnings call. “We’ll make progress with the artists to keep pricing it better.”
Translation: look for $300 tickets for not-so-great seats coming your way.