I love seeing live music. You get to see how the recorded music takes shape after being played over and over again. Sometimes you get a first glimpse at new material or the artist’s take on someone else’s material, which may never get recorded. Furthermore, you get to network with people who have similar tastes in music.
But, over the past few years I’ve noticed an alarming trend in ticket prices. For medium and major acts, ticket prices have been rising at a rate that seems to be far higher than most other artists. Add to that the ever-increasing fees imposed by Ticketmaster and you’ve pretty much priced most people out of the show.
To illustrate my point…A major artist recently announced a tour that is scheduled to come through Nashville in 2010. I wanted to go see this artist, so I obtained a pre-sale code and logged into Ticketmaster. To my surprise, it was going to cost almost $80 per ticket to get the best available seats. I could have bought cheaper seats at about $45 per ticket, but those seats would have been in the upper balcony of the arena. Call me a curmedgeon, but I’d rather not go than pay over $50 (after parking and not including concessions) per ticket to barely be able to see the artist on stage. For the sake of comparison, two legendary bands played a joint show here in town not too long ago for a ticket price of about $60 after fees.
I thought that maybe that artist was an anomoly. Another artist also announced a tour that is scheduled to come through Nashville in 2010. This artist is not as widely known and is playing a smaller venue here in town. I looked up ticket prices for this artist, and mid-level seats were going to be about $45. While not nearly as pricey as the other artist, after paying for parking, it’s still over $100 for two people to go see the show. As a result, we decided to pass on the show.
Compare this with the $40 my wife and I spent (total, with food) to go see an up-and-coming artist at a smaller venue here in town. There were no ridiculous fees, either. Just a fair price for a great show. And, we even got to meet and talk to the artist after the show. Somehow, the artist was making it work while charging a very small amount for tickets. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this artist will raise ticket prices as they get more widely known. I hope they don’t try to keep up with everyone else.
The fact is, as much as I enjoy watching live music, it’s becoming increasingly cost prohibitive to do so, at least to see major acts. For my money, I’d rather support smaller venues who in turn are supporting up-and-coming artists. In my experience, these shows have been more fun because the crowds are generally smaller and more engaged with the music. Not to mention that these shows are generally less than half the cost of seeing a major act’s show.