Do We Have Concert Fatigue?
Updated: Apr 14
I love going to a concert. For those of you that know me, you know I go to a lot of concerts. I go to more concerts in a year, than some people go to in a lifetime.
For me, live music gives me joy. I love the experience of seeing some of my favorite artists in the flesh. I love the feeling of hearing my favorite song by a band live for the first time.
I was so excited to see Squeeze last month and hear them play “Black Coffee In Bed” live. It’s one of my favorite songs!
But I’ve started to notice a trend recently. Concert tickets are not selling. Sure, there are still some shows where the tickets are really tough to get. But more and more, I’m seeing shows with lots of tickets still available – both from the venue and on resale sites.
So is the concert industry dying a slow death? Keep reading to find out my thoughts.
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THE FACTS ARE THE FACTS
As mentioned above, I felt like there was a trend happening with concert attendance, but I did some research to find out for sure. According to data from Pollstar, my hunch was right. According to their data, worldwide concert ticket sales are down by 29% halfway through 2019 (as compared to the same time period in 2018).
And according to their data, it’s not just the concert industry in general. Ticket sales for the Top 100 highest grossing acts for the first half of 2019 were down by almost 27%.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
It’s no secret that artists no longer make much money on the release of their music. I mean, when was the last time you actually bought a CD? Sure, they get some money from plays on streaming services and other outlets, but it’s not enough to pay the bills.
For lesser known acts like my friends Hudson Taylor, touring is a way to pay the bills.
In today’s music world, the way artists make money is by touring. That’s why you see some of these artists on the road for months (and even years) at a time.
OK, I GET IT. BUY WHY?
As much as I love to go to concerts, even I cut back on the number I am going to this year. Last year I went to 75 shows. This year I’m on track to go to around 50 or so.
But I am the exception to the rule when it comes to concert going. I still go to a lot of concerts. So what is driving this overall downward trend? .
SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Concerts are expensive. Sure, there are ways to get cheaper tickets. Check out my article for some ideas here.
For the bigger and more popular shows, you can expect nosebleed tickets to be $75 or more face value. The lower seats will cost you $100 or more. Really good seats can start at $150. Of course, that’s before Ticketmaster adds in all of their fees. When buying a ticket, you can expect the fees for that ticket to be anywhere between 20% and 35% of the face value of the ticket. So suddenly that $100 ticket becomes $130. Going with your spouse? You are now in for over $250 for just the tickets!
And buying the ticket is just your first expense. Dinner before the show? Cha ching! Parking at the venue? Cha ching! Want a beer? Cha ching? Need a poster or a concert t-shirt? Cha ching!
Need proof it’s expensive to go to concerts? Valet parking to go to a show at The Met will run you $60. Pro tip – park in the street for free!
When all is said and done, for two people to go to a concert, you can easily spend several hundred dollars!
DIDN’T I JUST SEE THEM A FEW MONTHS AGO?
As I mentioned above, the way musicians make money anymore is by touring. So some of them tour a lot! For some artists, this is a good thing. My fellow Dave Matthews Band fans expect them to tour EVERY summer and are disappointed if they take a year off.
One of my favorite bands is Coldplay. They put on a kick ass show! When they put a tour “production” together, it’s huge. Their last tour was their A Head Full of Dreams tour. The tour lasted a long time. It had 8 legs that contained a total of 122 shows around the world. The first show of the tour was March 31, 2016 and the last show of the tour was November 15, 2017. But, it was only the 7th “tour” of Coldplay’s entire existence. They don’t tour every year. In fact, there is no indication that we will be seeing Coldplay on tour again any time soon.
Going to a Coldplay show is a big party! With a production like theirs, they can’t go out on tour every year.
But some bands don’t seem to understand that distance really does make the heart grow fonder. These bands seem to be constantly touring. And when the set list is pretty much the same show after show, it’s hard to justify spending the money to see the same thing over and over again.
THOSE DAMN BOTS!
It’s hard to talk about concerts and not get into a discussion about scalpers and what the secondary ticket market has done to the concert industry.
Raise your hand if you have been in that ticket buying hell of waiting in the “queue” and seeing that there are THOUSANDS of people in front of you to buy those tickets.
The scalpers are out there buying tickets to every big show. They are playing a game of ticket roulette. Sometimes they hit the jackpot and sell their tickets for way over face value. And sometimes they take a bath. In either case, there are usually so many tickets on the secondary market, that it artificially inflates ticket sales.
NO MORRISSEY – YOU CAN’T SELL OUT BB&T PAVILION!
Over the past few years, I’ve seen a couple of artists make some pretty big miscalculations on what size venue is right for them. When I saw Morrissey was coming to BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ, I knew it was going to be a bust. The venue holds 25,000 people. Between Morrissey’s crazy antics, political stances, and tendency to cancel shows, there was no way he was going to sell 25,000 tickets. There are so many tickets available to this show still, there were tickets selling on Stub Hub for as low as $7 a ticket.
I’m not sure if it’s the artists themselves that have an inflated image of their popularity, or their management and booking agents. Either way, some of them need a big dose of reality.
I THOUGHT THE AIRLINES WERE BAD!
I think another thing contributing to the decline of concert tickets sales is Live Nation themselves. Concert tickets have become airline tickets. Want to sit on an aisle? That will cost you extra. Want the fast pass to get in? That will cost you extra.
Live Nation/Ticketmaster has also introduced this concept of platinum tickets. There doesn’t appear to be anything “platinum” about the tickets. In fact, I’ve seen platinum tickets for some shows that are seats all the way in the back of the venue. But, Live Nation/Ticketmaster puts a “platinum” label on them, and they suddenly cost twice as much. The problem? People buy them! And as long as people buy them, they will sell them.
The reason I love smaller shows is that I can see one of my favorite bands up close without buying premium platinum tickets.
But this crazy ticket pricing has led to a lot of anger and frustration from regular concert goers. Many people have started to take a stand. They feel that it’s just not worth the hassle and have boycotted going to shows.
SO LET’S SUM IT UP!
Artists are not going to stop touring. And Live Nation/Ticketmaster is not going away anytime soon. It also doesn’t look like their ticket selling practices are going to change soon either. Some artists are trying to take a stand, but it’s a little like David and Goliath at this point.
Show me the money! If only every hundred dollar bill really had Luke Spiller from The Struts on it!
I’m writing the first draft of this post on the day that Tool tickets go on sale. Tool hasn’t toured in a few years (remember, distance makes the heart grow fonder) and their new album has been a huge hit. So, it’s not surprising that tickets for their tour were going to sell fast. I was able to snag mine. But for two lower level tickets to the Philly show, it cost me $355 with fees. That’s a car payment!
I’m so lucky in my life that I financially have the ability to drop that kind of money on concert tickets. Most people don’t. When I posted about buying the tickets on a Live Music FB page I’m on, several people commented that they just couldn’t bring themselves to spend the money.
My mantra in life will continue to be #justbuythetickets. But, if the concert industry doesn’t take a hard look at itself, fewer and fewer live music fans are going to be able to go see the show.
So what do you think? Do you have concert fatigue? Do you go to as many shows as you used to? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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