Concert Tickets Are in High Demand, and Prices Are Soaring

Image Credit: iStock, 9parusnikov

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The Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away, Paul McCartney wrote and sang in the title track of The Beatles’ 1967 concert film and LP. If the song were written today, The Magical Mystery Tour would be dying to take away a good chunk of your last paycheck, too.

Whether it’s Billie Eilish fans catching the young phenom’s very first show in their hometown arena or Billy Joel fans seeing the Piano Man for their hundredth time, prices for tickets to see the world’s biggest artists are rising much faster than broader inflation.

On the Road Again

To paraphrase folk-rock singer Don McLean, March 13, 2020 — the day the Covid pandemic was declared a national emergency — marked the day the music died. And the rollout of pandemic restrictions knocked the concert industry clean from its high horse: the average take per show had doubled over the prior decade for the top 100 North American tours, and would have reached just shy of $1 million in 2020, according to concert trade magazine Pollstar.

Still, with the arrival of vaccines and the easing of Covid restrictions, fans came flooding back to venues in the second half of 2021. Concert lovers looking for tickets today will probably notice price hikes of up to 70% compared to pre-Covid times. Blame robust demand, inflationary forces on costs of labor and fuel, and touring company’s renewed plight to pre-empt the lucrative secondary market:

  • “If a fan is willing to spend $400 on StubHub and the tour is selling those tickets for $100, that’s a pretty big gap there,” Jay Moss, Wasserman Music’s senior vice president, told The Wall Street Journal this weekend. “The industry is trying to right the ship and get ticket prices more in line with natural supply and demand.”
  • Concert ticket sales are up 45% through mid-February of this year, compared with 2019, according to Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s largest concert promoter. Pricing on the top 10 tours is up over 20% vs 2019, the promoter said in its February earnings report.

The average ticket price of a live show has increased from $131 in 2019 to $168 today for Elton John, from $208 to $227 for The Eagles, and from $70 to $118 for the aforementioned Billie Eilish, according to Pollstar.