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Billboard tries to explain why concert tickets are so high

A new “Billboard Explains” video purports to tell why concert ticket prices are so high and answer questions like “Who does your ticket money actually go to?” and “What’s with all those fees?”

According to Billboard:

  • the base ticket price goes to pay for the rising expenses of doing the show – things like staff, gas, and trucks – which are all experiencing the same inflationary pressures and shortages as the rest of the economy
  • profits have traditionally been split 85% to artists and 15% to promoters, according to the video, but “artists have raised concert ticket price and now take a higher percentage of the profit”
  • So how does the promoter make money? Services fees, order processing fees, and facility fees., according to Billboard.

To follow Billboard’s logic is to believe that artists alone are forcing ticket prices higher and that their demands are leaving promoters no choice but to turn to ticket fees and facility fees to stay in business.

lf you’re looking at only the top 100 or so grossing tours, the arguments that Billboard makes at least partially ring true – even though they leave out all of the concessions, parking, VIP boxes, and other major profit centers that facilities have.

Artists who sell out instantly have always had unique leverage.

But what Billboard fails to mention is that 99% of all shows are by artists who are not making outsized financial demands. Most have no interest in wringing every penny from their fans. They want happy fans who will also buy merch and come back to see the show again the next time they pass through town.

These artists – almost all artists – do not earn a penny of these outrageous ticket fees and facility charges. But when a $20 ticket costs a fan $34 after fees and charges, the fans still blame them.

Billboard’s next Explains video needs to be:

“Why you shouldn’t blame your favorite band for high ticket prices.”

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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