What Should Inflation Make It?
Bowie hasn't toured since 2003, which is too bad, because 2013's The Next Day is one of his greatest achievements and is his best album since 1980, but let's see what inflation should do to the price of a similar ticket today. The answer is $57.23. How much is Billy Joel charging for tickets to his Madison Square Garden Show? $124.50. Yep, concerts have gotten insane. (In the membrane.)
Projected cost of Cyprus Hill tickets? Admission free with schwag.
Well, unlike some other entries on this list, this one has too many answers. Most boil down to mere finger-pointing between artist greed and the deleterious effects of communications giant Clear Channel. But, based on my research and my belief that everyone is horrible always, I tend to think there is truth on both sides of the debate.
Some blame the Eagles for starting the trend with their Hell Freezes Over reunion tour, where tickets topped out over $100 for the first time ever in rock concert history. The Eagles are responsible for a lot of terrible things ("New Kid in Town") and they have certainly proven themselves to be greedy bastards, purportedly firing founding member Don Felder for having the audacity to believe he was entitled to an equal cut of tour profits. Still, I don't think that's enough of an explanation.
Others say elaborate stage shows are responsible for the price hike. Well, that's pretty stupid considering the Eagles show I just mentioned was five dudes sitting on chairs.
But each chair had Transformers technology to change into a really boring classic rock song.
Furthermore, Bowie's super elaborate Glass Spider tour that I mentioned above had affordable tickets because he got Pepsi to sponsor him, leading to this horrible commercial.
Some point out that many artists are relying increasingly on touring because decreased record sales due to Internet sharing has destroyed their profits. Unlike the arguments above, that one seems pretty persuasive and hard to avoid.
But, as I mentioned, there's another player in the mix. Clear Channel. If you don't know what Clear Channel is: they are everything. All the time. They are a mass media company that owns everything there is to own when it comes to music. Now here's something you might not know. Those big acts that play those big venues? They usually don't just sell tickets and make money, splitting some with the venue. The venue actually pays the artist to perform there and then sells tickets to make a profit over the amount they've just shelled out.
In 2000, Clear Channel paid out $2.9 billion to buy a bunch of concert venues. Eager to fill those halls, they started offering top dollar to acts, forcing other promoters to do the same to compete, and leading to the inevitable price hikes to recoup.
So artists relying on touring profits to compensate for decreased record sales and corporate giants feeding that need with big venue offers is all working hand-in-hand to create increased ticket sales way beyond anything that inflation could imagine.
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