Statistics show that popular concert tickets are almost 20% more expensive than before the pandemic

As pandemic restrictions eased earlier this year, Shay Forrester was excited to resume one of her favorite pastimes: watching live music with family and friends. But then she realized how much she would have to pay.

Floor tickets for Harry Styles before they sold out two scheduled concerts at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena in August cost $980 each.

“That’s the equivalent of a few week-long vacation packages in Cuba,” Ms. Forrester said. “Prices like this would have been unthinkable before the pandemic.”

As a result, the 24-year-old Ottawa official has had to scale back her ambitions to go to concerts this summer, and she’s not alone. Across the continent, fans desperate to return to concert venues after two years of delays and cancellations are finding the cost of live music events is much higher than before the spread of COVID-19.

Some ticketing websites have been offering booth tickets to Kendrick Lamar’s August 13 show at the Scotiabank Arena for more than $500 each as of Sunday, with standard tickets ranging in the 300s furthest from the stage – resale for $150-$300 on Ticketmaster.com. General admission tickets for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, performing in Toronto in late August, start at around $880, and the cheapest seats start at around $200.

According to concert data provider Pollstar, the average ticket for one of the top 100 most popular tours in North America at the end of June cost $108.20, 17 percent more than an average ticket in 2019, the last full year of live events.

There is evidence that price increases are being driven, at least in part, by increased demand. On average over the first half of 2022, each of these tours attracted 5 percent more viewers than 2019 and brought in 25 percent more revenue, according to Pollstar. Overall, the industry grossed $1.69 billion in the first two quarters of the year, although the total number of shows is down 12 percent compared to the same period two years ago.

In a recent call with analysts, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. President Michael Rapino said fan demand “has never been stronger.” He added that the live entertainment company’s retail ticket prices rose “by double digits” in the first quarter of this year compared to 2019, and that resale ticket prices on its platform were up 18 percent.

According to the company’s first-quarter financial report, total concert bookings through the end of April increased 44 percent from the same period in 2019.

And concert-goers spend more once they arrive at the shows. Live Nation’s revenue per fan from on-site merchandise sales increased 30 percent compared to 2019.

While concert-going costs have generally increased compared to 2019, some ticket prices are lower than in 2021, when capacity limits severely limited supply. On SeatGeek, an online ticketing platform, the average cost per Canadian concert ticket this year is $162 – down from $198 last year but more than $145 in 2020.

“As artists returned to the stage in 2021, we saw demand for tickets well above pre-pandemic levels as fans simply wanted to get back to live events,” said Chris Leyden, Director of Consumer Strategy at SeatGeek . “This pent-up demand from 2020 is still leaving prices above their pre-pandemic levels, and that could remain so for a while.”

Some cheaper tickets are still available, but if you find them you may have to settle for less popular acts.

Josh Greenberg, director of the School of Journalism and Communications at Carleton University in Ottawa, said high ticket prices have prompted him to change his buying habits. Instead of spending a lot of money to see one As a high profile band, he has chosen to see several smaller acts in intimate venues.

“I’ve been to shows in Montreal with tickets ranging from $25 to $50 and have a few more coming up through 2022, none of which cost more than $80,” he said.

But these prices are just bargains by newer standards. A few years ago, he remarked, they would have given him a break.

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