Ticket sales, concert attendance decline as prices increase

Whether they are from large ticketing distributors or scalpers on websites like StubHub, concert ticket prices can range from $20 to hundreds of dollars. While scalpers often inflate the prices well over face value, even the artists themselves can charge high rates for tickets, causing many fans to miss out.

Connor Dziawura, Behind the Scenes Editor, Puma Press

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Imagine this: your favorite band announces a show in town. You go to the venue website and get ready for tickets to go on sale; however, when you refresh the page, the tickets are already sold out.

How can this be?

You were careful and prepared to purchase your tickets but somehow they were still already snatched up. So now what?

You head over to StubHub and find out that the tickets to this very show are already being resold for astronomical prices.

This is exactly what happened when Brand New announced that its much-anticipated 2015 return tour would be stopping at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Within minutes of going on sale, tickets were already being resold on StubHub for hundred’s of dollars, confirming the problems that many have with the ticketing industry; and it is not just the resale prices but also the face value of tickets that has been rising and can be too high for fans to afford.

“I miss out on a lot of concerts I want to see because they’re overpriced,” said Paradise Valley Community College student Mark Scott.

Ticket price increases

As one White House blog shows, ticket prices increased by nearly 400 percent from 1981-2012, despite consumer prices increasing only by 150 percent.

The online statistics portal, Statistica, also shows slight rises in concert ticket prices from 2011-2015 with average admission costs approximating $78.77 per ticket.

Scott says he goes to at most five concerts a year, paying from $20 to $50 per concert. “Any concerts that are over 60 bucks I tend to stay away from,” he says.

Even when tickets are bought at face value, buyers encounter “facility” and “service” fees that can often add an extra $20 to the ticket price.

According to Forbes, a switch of the music industry from physical media purchases to downloads from iTunes may account for a rise in prices for concerts. With music sales declining as streaming and purchases of singles increase, artists and labels must turn elsewhere for income.

Resellers boost prices

While tickets can be expensive at face value, this is not the only problem for concertgoers, as the Brand New situation shows. Scalpers frequently buy tickets and resell them at astronomical prices. And although this is already a commonly known problem, it is the ridiculous prices over the past year that bring this to the forefront. As New York Daily News shows, the highest priced band from ticket resellers was the Grateful Dead in 2015, with tickets costing $1016.20 on average (face value: $71.17). Madonna trailed in second at nearly half the cost, with tickets approximating $496.82.

And if the prices weren’t enough to make it difficult for fans to purchase tickets, NBC News shows that most tickets are already gone by the time they go on sale, with large portions of tickets going to fan clubs, VIPs for special groups and high-end credit card holders. So how are fans supposed to get tickets when large percentages are set aside and left unavailable for purchase to the general public, and the remaining tickets are scalped at inflated rates?

Concert attendance declines

In summer 2014, MarketWatch showed a decline in ticket sales and revenue for Live Nation Entertainment Inc., one of the largest ticketing distributors. While Live Nation does not strictly deal in concert tickets, concerts account for the largest portion of their revenue, and the sale of concert tickets declined 2 percent with second quarter profit declining 60 percent in the wake of the decrease.

According to the New York Times, concert ticket sales were decreasing even in 2010, with shows by the Eagles and “American Idol Live!” cancelling dates that summer. Live Nation even offered discounts on Goo Goo Dolls tickets and removed many service fees from ticket purchases in June 2010.

It is time that the ticketing industry receives a long overdue overhaul. While some websites feature ticket limits to prevent scalpers from acquiring too many tickets, more should be done to protect fans and buyers from spending too much — including the consideration of ticket price and sales regulation.

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Ticket sales, concert attendance decline as prices increase