Rolling Stone’s June 2, 2016 magazine published a story “Summer Tour Preview, Rulers of the Road” which listed sixteen of the top tours starting this summer. Fine, the copy was entertaining and informative, but it veered into the realm of a fairy tale when they decided to list the “official” ticket prices.
The article’s lead off featured Beyoncé’s Formation Tour, which listed ticket prices ranging from $45 to $355.
In what dream world would a ticket for this tour go for $45? We visited the Ticketmaster website to see if we could find those elusive unicorns, oops, I mean tickets. For the Los Angeles concert in September, the site did have a bar listing tickets from $45-$670+. I clicked on the “Find Tickets” button for the $45 tickets, and received the message, “Sorry, no tickets match your search.”
Worse yet, if you want floor seats, those have already been snatched up by Ticketmaster for their “Official Platinum Seats”, which states that “Official Platinum Seats were not purchased initially and then posted for resale; they are being sold for the first time through Ticketmaster on behalf of the artist or event provider.” [emphasis added] You have to pay at least $575 to sit in the next to best seats. That is a far cry from $355. Rolling Stone reports that the 40-plus-date tours has already grossed more than $200 million. Arthur Fogel, the tour’s promoter said that “It could be the most successful tour of the year.”
The $35-$150 ticket prices listed for the Adele tour were even more misleading. Not only were 60% of the tickets snatched up by Adele and the venues, but the tickets which did become available to the general public magically became $250 to $750 tickets, and her 54 city tour sold out in seconds. Rolling Stone reports that while Adele could have “easily” added more, “she’s pacing herself.” Says Adele, “I’m not doing fucking dance routines like Beyoncé, but performing every night is still grueling, so I need to be in good form for that.” Less shows equals less tickets equals higher ticket prices.
Rolling Stone had to know that the ticket prices they cited were not even in the ballpark for those shows, yet they still went to print. They told readers that they could get Adele tickets for $35. Adele fans went to Ticketmaster looking for those tickets and were considerably frustrated when they could not get those tickets. So who do they blame? The secondary market. Both the New York Attorney General (which actually released two reports over the last 5 years) and the New York Department of Consumer Protection released reports on the ticketing industry. In all the reports released by these watchdog agencies, artists and venues were the first group they blamed for higher ticket prices.
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed that concert goers “shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.” They should not have to fight the promoters and venues either.
Artists and entertainment industry executives generally do not tell the truth about the number of ticket available to the general public, as well as the true costs of those tickets. That lack of information skews the governments and general public’s views of the ticket industry, as well as ticket brokers in general. We asked Rolling Stone how they developed their concert ticket prices, and why they were so different from what our investigation revealed. We have not received a response by publication.