Live music ticket prices have grown out of control; what does it mean for us?

Every few months, an old interview clip with Kurt Cobain, rock icon and late leadman of Nirvana, makes its rounds on the internet. Cobain, whose band charges $18 is asked about the ticket prices of his peers and is baffled by the fact that Madonna charges $50. Adjusted for inflation, these numbers aren’t quite the same, but they paint the same picture. 

In our current climate of concert prices, it’s not hard to see why this old clip would go viral. It is a snapshot of a time that is long gone, when $50, which rounds out to about $100 today, was controversially expensive. Nowadays, you’d be lucky to get tickets for an artist as big as Madonna was for that cheap.

Whether it’s Beyoncé, Taylor Swift or Drake, seeing popular artists as they tour through the U.S. have never been more expensive. Between TicketMasters broken and confusing queues and pre-sale systems and the ridiculous resell prices from scalpers and bots, the bottom line is: Concerts are inaccessible. Seeing your favorite artist is no longer something that the average person can afford to do, whether that be because of the sheer time and effort spent trying to even access the tickets or the money you have to fork out, especially for our community in a market as big as Chicago.

Taylor Swift tickets for her June 2 concert at Chicago’s Soldier Field, start at over $1,500 dollars on second-hand tickets site StubHub, and that is for sky-high seats where she is a near spec from your perspective. Over at the United Center where Drake will be performing on June 5, tickets start at over $250 on StubHub for seats in the far section 300, which isn’t quite as far as the top of soldier field but isn’t a good view either, especially not for a relatively steep price. It’s become ridiculous and far too common for famous artists’ concerts.

At the end of the day, we control the market. As long as there are super-fans who are willing to pay $1000 there will be resellers who are willing to sell it to them. A cocktail of that and the confusing ticket buying experience from Ticketmaster, who has a borderline monopoly on first-hand tickets, has created a volatile ticket buying market.

Regulations are necessary. This is an issue that will only grow like a virus with time if it isn’t stopped. Ticket prices will soar higher as it will apply to more and more artists. Resellers have stronghold the market and jacked up prices and they are uncontested. 

Sites such as Ticketmaster should only allow you to resell tickets for as much as you bought it for if not less. Tickets should be limited to what they are intended for: Paid entry to an event, not an unregulated profit for scalpers that use bots to farm tickets.

Concerts have become inaccessible. For many Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Drake fans, it is no longer a leisure they can afford. A world where the affluent and the common man couldn’t enjoy live music together is a concept that bothered Kurt Cobain over 25 years ago. It is a world that’s dystopian.