So THAT's Why Gig Tickets Are So, So, So Expensive Now

*cries in live music lover*
Gareth Cattermole/TAS24 via Getty Images

Taylor Swift fans are finally getting to enjoy the UK leg of her Eras world tour – but with VIP ticket prices going as high as £799 a pop (per Time Out), it’s hard not to wince alongside the excitement.

Gig lovers will likely already know that the Eras tour is far from the only pricey concert running right now.

This year’s Olivia Rodrigo tickets could set you back $963 (£758-ish), a 2024 Bruno Mars ticket can cost you $619.50 (about £487), and you can enjoy a Morgan Wallen show for $562.50 (roughly £442), Men’s Journal says.

A French study which looked at the price of concert tickets found that their cost has risen at double the rate of inflation since 2019 (oh, good).

If, like us, you’re wondering just why that is, co-hosts Marina Hyde and Richard Osman got into it in their behind-the-scenes showbiz podcast The Rest Is Entertainment.

So... what’s going on?

If I said “partly greed, probably,” would you be shocked?

“The attorney general in the US, Merrick Garland, has launched a monopoly suit against Ticketmaster,” journalist Marina Hyde said on the episode.

“There is, in general, a lot of anger about ticketing,” she added, suggesting some companies and practices have made ticket prices “too high”.

Here in the UK, “one of Labour’s proposals for the election is to cap secondary ticketing, like resale basically, at 10% over face value,” she said. We don’t currently have a limit on those price hikes.

The US Department of Affairs says on its site that “80% of primary ticketing at major concert venues” in the US is controlled by one company and its subsidiary.

That means the company has a lot of power over the cost of an awful lot of tickets.

As Richard Osman pointed out in the episode, “the most powerful woman in entertainment [Taylor Swift]... even she and the AEG group who are her promoters, they could not get past this, because all the biggest venues had exclusive deals with Ticketmaster”.

Is that the only reason prices are high?

No.

Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Matt Grimes, who lectures in music industries and radio at Birmingham City University, said: “When Covid put a halt to touring, many professionals in the industry were forced to find new jobs, and they didn’t all return when the lockdown lifted. This led to a shortage of personnel in the touring industry – with those left being able to charge more for their services.”

Venue owners are not immune to soaring energy and gas prices, either, and in the UK in particular, Brexit has taken its toll on ticket costs.

Perhaps that’s partly why, as Richard Osman says on the show, Ticketmaster’s rivals often charge more or less the same as they do.

Add extreme fandoms and extortionate ticket scalping sales onto that, and it’s no wonder Marina ”[didn’t] want to say” how much she paid for her own Taylor Swift tickets on the podcast...

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