The perverse economics of concert tickets

THIS IS AN OLD BLOG.  But it’s just as relevant today regarding the Tragically Hip as it was in 2013.  

Tickets to see Mumford and Sons in Edmonton went on sale Friday at 10:00 am. By 10:02 am they were sold out.  By 10:05 am dozens (or more) tickets showed up on craigslist/kijiji for as much as $500 a pair.  That’s about 3 and a half times the price they sold for.  Keep that figure in mind “three and a half times the price”

A brand new Ford Focus, right off the lot from sells for $17,649.  Check it out. does not sell Ford Focus’ for $5,045.00 (three and a half times less than the manufactures suggested price) because the market has determined that the value is higher.

Why can’t musicians figure this economic issue out?  They THINK they’re being righteous (and appearing non-capitalist) by selling their tickets at a price that does not reflect the value.  In my opinion, this is incorrect.  They should charge what the tickets are worth (determined by the market) and cut the Scalpers out.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking “Dave, I can’t afford a $250 tickets to see Mumford and Sons…that’s not fair?!?!?”  Hey, I’d love a few Ford Focus for 5k but that ain’t the price, and you don’t see me crying to about it.

If an artist REALLY wanted to cut out scaplers AND appear humble, they’d charge market value, and make a handsome donation to a local charity as opposed to lining the pockets of “ticket sites” by undervaluing their product.

Am I nailing this…or am I way off??


16 responses to “The perverse economics of concert tickets

  1. Asking $500 and “getting” $500 for a pair of Mumford tickets are two different things. Just because a scalper would like to get that much for their tickets doesn’t mean they’ll actually get that much.

  2. There also aren’t a limited number of Ford Focuses (Foci?) available for purchase. They don’t “sell out” of them the same way concert tickets sell out, so it’s not a great comparison.
    I do hate the current ticketing system though. Online purchasing is convenient, but I remember the days when you had to stand in line to get tickets in person, which meant a better likelihood of selling the tickets to someone who really wanted them!

  3. I don’t know it’s about the value of the music based on what the musician wants. It’s the process that’s flawed. Garth Brooks REQUESTED HIMSELF that his tickets sell for $62, and in less than one minute his Calgary concert last summer sold out. Again, within minutes, tickets were on various other reseller sites for up to $10,000. Garth, in addition to numerous other entertainers, have been vocal against scalping and ticket reselling, but the process remains the same. Change the game on the process in selling/distributing the tickets, and then the artists have the control they deserve to have.

    • Garth was a special case. But I think we can both agree that those tickets were worth much more than $62.

      • How are they worth more than what the performer himself thought they were worth? There are many musicians that don’t want their fans paying ridiculous rates for their shows, but the control isn’t in their hands, and that’s the issue. Again – the process is flawed, there are far too many politics and corporate greed involved, and the fans pay the price…literally.

  4. Ewanchuk Teri

    I say do it the old fashioned way – NOTHING on line – must buy them in person at ticket outlet and yes limit purchase to 4 or 6. I think it would give people a fair chance.

    • I like it Teri…the problem is that in order to PAY for the tickets I need to WORK. And I work Friday at 10am when tickets go on sale!

  5. basil yacyshyn

    Make the tickets sell on saturdays in person only
    or the amount to 2-4 tix max per credit card

  6. If promoters and bands could accurately price their tickets, every show would always sell out. But they don’t How much were Mumford and Sons? If they were twenty bucks that’s more than I’d be willing to pay. Guess I wouldn’t make a very good scalper either.
    In the old model you “earned” your right to buy those tickets by standing in line. Scalpers and true fans, side by side. So what kind of hoops can be put in place to make it fair? Only sell them to “true fans”?

    • I’m starting to warm up to the idea of selling tickets with legal ID. Then, on the day of the show, only those with ID that matches the ticket, can get into the show.

  7. I like your “Concert tickets like Airline tickets” concept but unfortunately it’s flawed. Like if I bought 6 tickets to a show, 2 for me and my lady friend, 2 for Sawchuck and his dog, and two for “any friends that may want to come but couldn’t get tickets” I may not have names for each person coming. Hmm, or maybe each person only allowed two extra tickets without names…

    As it is I rarely go see a concert because tickets are already so damn expensive. In my opinion, if you raise the prices you will be putting the concerts out of reach for most of fans who desperately need a good show. The kid working the supermarket on weekends to save up for a new mountain bike, or the single mom who’s already pinching pennies.

    One of the greatest ticket pricing flaws I remember was the Beijing Olympics. There were some small draw events like rowing that had tickets in the $20K price range and the only people who could afford it were corporate sponsors. People who had more money than interest, and were there because of the Golden Status. The CBC did a really good bit where they panned the camera across the half occupied grandstand and the people that were there weren’t even watching the event. There was some kid across the street in a tree trying his hardest to get a glimpse of a rowing skull go past and these people couldn’t care less.

    I have no fact to base this on but I worry the people who pay $500 for a concert ticket will arrive after the opening act and leave before the finale.

  8. I don’t see a problem. The artists are getting what they want to play the show, promotors are getting what they need for the tickets, and scalpers have created a business that is clearly in demand. If people are willing to pay what scalpers are asking for tickets, who cares if they end up paying more than the original on-sale amount. They dont seem to. I don’t see a flaw in the system…. I see an entrepreneurial opportunity that people are capitalizing on.

    • Can’t disagree with you on the “created economic opportunity” by scalpers. I guess I’d just prefer to give that money to the band that I love so much, for access to their art.

  9. Reblogged this on Dave Sawchuk and commented:

    This is OLD. But in my opinion, still relevant. I HATE to say it…..I really do.

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