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Pulling back the curtains: Rising ticket prices impact concertgoers’ access to seeing artists live  

Lola Thomas
Harry Styles performs “Late Night Talking” at SoFi Stadium Oct. 23, 2022. Since 2019, the average concert price to see prominent artists like Styles has risen 18%.

In the interest of full disclosure, ticket broker Christopher Asher is a family friend of this reporter. 

Being an artist’s No. 1 fan, hanging their posters around your room and listening to their music every second possible does not guarantee seeing them perform live in 2023 — unless you have incredible luck and hundreds of dollars to spend on tickets for one night.

In 2023, the average resale price to experience live music has increased by anywhere from 50% to 7,000% from its initial price. According to NBC Los Angeles, the resale price increase can depend on a multitude of factors; however, the biggest one is the prominence of the performing artist.

According to Business Insider, the average resale price to see Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour in North America has skyrocketed to $3,801. Similarly, the average concert ticket has risen to approximately the same price as a month’s rent in Los Angeles. It has become increasingly difficult for the average person to see their favorite artist live. In the seconds fans hesitate to purchase tickets, a venue can be sold out, and they return to the site only to find that the price of resale tickets is more expensive.

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The major factors causing concert tickets to rise include the promoters, venues, ticketing companies, ticket resellers and the performing artists themselves. Prominent artists tend to be more in control of what their prices are, while smaller artists’ prices are usually more affordable since they are limited by the size of their venue.

Ticket brokers are individual people or groups that purchase concert tickets in advance of the general sale to sell them for a profit. Ticket broker Christopher Asher said many components go into deciding ticket prices, but the primary reason tends to be how much of a profit the broker needs to make.

“It depends on how big the artist is — everyone wanted to see Beyoncé, so I bought as many tickets as possible,” Asher said. “You have to predict what shows will sell out at the stadium first.”

Asher said, for reselling concert tickets, the broker has to consider the artist’s popularity, the arena and how quickly the tickets sell out. From there, Asher said he has to decide on a price that is close enough to the original selling point but expensive enough to make a profit for himself.

“For example, if a Beyoncé ticket is being sold for $300, and there was a big demand to see her perform, the resold price would be around $500, so I would make a $200 profit,” Asher said. “These concerts are very expensive, but I have to sell them at a higher price to make a decent profit.”

In 2022, Ticketmaster faced many complaints when they sold more tickets to attend Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour than were actually available. Senior Sophie Sackett said her experience using Ticketmaster to purchase Eras Tour tickets was challenging because prices became higher without notice of the additional fees.

“Only a certain number of people could get presale codes, which was still more than the amount of tickets they were selling,” Sackett said. “Ticketmaster will ask you to protect your tickets, without explaining what that means, and having a hidden fee within that is in the smallest fine print.”

It depends on how big the artist is — everyone wanted to see Beyonce, so I bought as many tickets as possible. You have to predict what shows will sell out at the stadium first.”

— Concert ticket broker Christopher Asher

Sophomore Sara Salehi said she has never attended a concert and found the initial process of purchasing tickets online challenging and misleading.

“Ticketmaster wasn’t clear on how to buy tickets,” Salehi said. “I wasn’t sure how to actually buy tickets, and I couldn’t tell what seats were actually available.”

The pandemic also had significant effects on rising ticket prices. Due to concerts being canceled for almost three years and people’s hesitation to attend concerts immediately after COVID-19, 2023 became a record-hitting year for concert attendance. Economic analyst Christopher Cranson predicted that once the opportunity to experience live music after the pandemic returned, high ticket prices would plateau unless prominent artists addressed how expensive they were.

With a high demand for live music, the prices increase. Sophomore Serenity Jones said she stopped going to concerts frequently after COVID-19 as a precaution, but since then, concerts have become more expensive.  

“I used to go to concerts very often, I would go at least every six months,” Jones said. “I just stopped going to concerts after COVID and now it’s much less often, but I got to see my favorite artists recently.”

Salehi said that the experience of seeing her favorite artist would have been worth the process of selecting and purchasing tickets. She said that the success of The Eras Tour is a testament to Swift’s entertaining stage presence and the loyalty of her fanbase.

“[The tickets] were really expensive, but I think they were worth it to see Taylor Swift,” Salehi said. “Even though it was expensive, people were paying that much to see her anyway, which is why her tickets were sold out quickly.”

While seeing major artists in concert is becoming more expensive, getting to experience live music from smaller artists has become increasingly difficult as well. As production prices rise, so do the costs of organizing a concert, which can force smaller artists to sell them for a high price.

For smaller artists, paying those production costs is often unattainable and unrealistic, setting an expensive standard for their concert ticket prices as well. Asher said paying a high price for a resold ticket to see smaller artists perform is often not worth the experience.

“If you want to see someone perform as big as Taylor Swift, paying a high price can be worth the experience, and oftentimes people would see her perform two or three times,” Asher said. “Some artists are just not worth the price — it really just depends on how popular they are.” 

Jones said going to concerts frequently is unrealistic and sets a high standard of what is supposed to be affordable for most people.

“Normal people just can’t afford to attend their favorite concerts,” Jones said. “It seems like some people can just go to a concert three times without knowing the artist just because they can when it’s already expensive to just get one ticket — it takes away that opportunity for a real fan to be able to go.”

Sackett said the process of getting tickets can be frustrating, but it is worth it in the end. She said the experience of getting to enjoy live music outweighs the challenging process of acquiring a ticket.

“It’s worth it because the artists usually put on such a great show,” Sackett said. “The environment is usually really great to be in because you’re surrounded by similar people that just want to experience the same good time you do.” 

Asher said purchasing and selling concert tickets is a tedious and sometimes difficult task. He said the buyer should consider all of their options and consider if the concert tickets they are buying are worth the price.

“The industry is based on very good artists. If you want to see Taylor Swift, you have to consider if what you are buying is worth it, but most of the time, it is,” Asher said. “For some artists, it’s a waste of money and time — you just have to weigh your options.”

This story was originally published on The Oracle on September 25, 2023.