While fans are often blindsided by outrageous ticket prices, the ticketing giant Live Nation Entertainment only expects prices to increase in the future.
Michael Rapino, the Chief Executive at Live Nation, recently explained to Liberty Media Corp. investors that concert tickets are an “incredible bargain” for live event fans. He noted that an increase of prices could represent a “huge opportunity for the bottom line,” although the average tour’s ticket price clocks in at around $100, according to MarketWatch.
Data from Pollstar shows that the average ticket price for the top 100 tours in the world rose to $96.17 in 2019; a stark difference from $78.30 in 2015, and a 250 percent increase from 1996.
Joe Berchtold, Live Nation’s president, agreed with Rapino, explaining in a conversation with MarketWatch that “the vast majority of shows are very reasonably priced for fans.” He noted that while big-name artists dominate expensive ticket prices, amphitheater lawn seats are around $30. Berchtold isn’t alone, either; Georgetown University finance professor Jim Angel echoed similar views, telling MarketWatch that tickets have always been priced significantly cheaper than they could be.
Berchtold told MarketWatch that the secondary market might be one of the reasons why concerts tickets are so cheap, since artists didn’t always know how much money resellers were making. He said that now, artists are “confronted with the reality that it’s not often the fans benefiting from that lower price.”
“We think artists have the rights to the full economics of what they do,” he said, noting that raising ticket prices could help limit a portion of sales to human fans and ultimately restrict others from reselling tickets.
Yet, pricing tickets even higher could create an even larger gap – between those who can afford tickets and those who cannot.
Despite what industry executives think, fans are already upset with growing ticket prices and often deal with unexpected service fees tacked on to tickets, no transfer policies, and fight it out with other fans in online queues. Just this month, fans were outraged with Motley Crue’s ticket prices, calling the prices highly unreasonable. We’ve seen it before with Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and more A-list stars as well, pricing out some of their top fans due to unattainable prices. Even Cher was upset with her ticket prices on primary sites, claiming that “I don’t like ticket prices so high fans can’t afford to come to my shows.”
John Bergmayer, the legal director at the public-interest group Public Knowledge, told MarketWatch in an emailed statement that the primary ticketing market is “already horrendously uncompetitive because of Ticketmaster’s dominance.”
“It is disturbing if Ticketmaster looks at the market and all it sees is an opportunity to raise prices and further entrench its monopoly,” he said.
Earlier this year, Live Nation made headlines after a House Committee sent letters to six ticketing companies to investigate its ticket practices. Then, last week, the ticketing giant wrapped-up a settlement after it “reached an agreement in principle” with the Justice Department for charges that it misused its power in the industry. While the DOJ originally said Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster violated a consent decree “repeatedly” since 2010, Live Nation said in a statement that an agreement has been reached to “extend and clarify the consent decree” through 2025.