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Why has the cost of going to gigs increased over the last 20 years?

Gig tickets for arenas are shooting up, but why?

Henry Lewis

Date published: 8th Feb 2018

Image: Manchester Academy (credit)

For all us gig addicts, we've seen a mighty increase in the price we've been paying to attend our favourite shows and this has been extremely noticeable over the past twenty years. 

It's a huge issue we're involved within (our director Rich Dyer will be speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show at 10am Thursday 8th February at 10am to discuss the matter), and one that is hurting the pockets of gig-goers. In fact, since the 1990s, the cost of gig tickets for the big arena shows has risen by over 50% - but why is that? Well there are a few reasons.

Production values have gone up. Artists looking moody behind their guitars have been replaced with epic sound and lighting shows, with the nation's passion for next level experiences at festival rippling into their gig demands. These costs are going up too - think about how much work and effort goes into stage production to make for a wholly immersive experience. That money has to come from somewhere.

As well as all this, streaming also has a part to play in the price increase with many artists compensating for a lower income via music sales by charging more for their tour. Now more than ever gigging represents the key way to make money for musicians at the highest level, as well as the legions of employees that help power that machine (publicists, managers etc).  

This rapid price inflation doesn't seem to be dimming demand, however. Pollstar research has indicated that whilst the top 100 Worldwide tours saw an increase in ticket prices by 5% in the last year, there was a 15.8% increase in demand - proving that people are still going to these big shows in their droves.

This increase in ticket prices though only seems to be hitting into bigger artists, with the cost of grassroots shows staying relatively the same, despite the serious issues facing this level of the music scene.

Only last week we were part of a movement championing creative spaces across the UK in the shape of Independent Venue Week. 35% of venues have shut in the last ten years, and this puts a significant drain on live music. So whilst it costs more to see a huge pop artist, supporting the next big thing remains quite cheap - and hugely rewarding.

Whilst demand for these high-end shows remains fervent, sadly inflated again by the unscrupulous behaviour of ticket touts, there are always alternatives which we implore you to seek out. Seeing a breathtaking performance alongside thousands is a rare, thrilling experience, but so too is a sweaty basement with a handful of people and an undiscovered gem.

Get behind the full spectrum of live music now - head to our extensive live music guide to find the next place to immerse yourself in your next gig experience.