Ticket prices: A growing problem in the UK music industry

Ticket prices have been rising for decades, new pricing structures, global events, and the current economic prices are exacerbating the problem.
As a consequence, fans are increasingly prevented from attending live music events – to illustrate this point, a recent study by YouGov showed that tickets prices prevent nearly 20% of Brits from attending gigs.

In this article, we’ll explore the factors driving ticket price increases, how artists are responding, and what the future could hold for the UK live music industry.

Why are ticket prices rising?

There are a number of factors driving ticket price increase, including:

  • Dynamic ticket pricing
    Many believe that the price rises benefit the artist themselves, but that isn’t always true. Ticketing platforms like Ticketmaster have introduced ‘dynamic pricing’, which causes ticket prices to rise for the most in-demand shows. The platforms reap the additional profits of this pricing structure, at the expense of the fans.
  • Covid-19
    The COVID-19 pandemic hit many industries hard and that includes the UK’s music scene. While organisations continued to support struggling artists, lockdown prevented venues, promotions, and ticket selling platforms from making money. Without adequate government support, many have raised ticket prices in a bid to survive.
  • Inflation
    Costs have rocketed across the board – not just for the fans but for venues and promoters too.
    Delivery prices have risen due to expensive fuel, and staffing costs have gone up significantly. These costs mean that running music events is becoming less financially viable, unless promoters raise ticket prices in line.

How are artists responding to price rises?
The special bond between fans and musicians often goes both ways and some artists are trying to shield their supporters from expensive tickets. Robert Smith, Frontman of the Cure, has tweeted his views on dynamic ticket pricing, telling fans that “he’s as sickened as you all are.” According to Smith, “all artists have the choice not to participate” – suggesting that musicians play a crucial role in ticket pricing.
Perhaps if more musicians were transparent about ticket prices for their gigs, refused to participate in dynamic pricing, and used their platforms to demand cheaper tickets for their fans, the rising price of attending live events would slow down – or even fall.

Are high ticket costs here to stay?
There’s no doubt that asking fans to pay more to see their favourite musicians during a cost-of-living crisis is insensitive. At a time when paying necessities such as food, heating, and rent is difficult, the dynamic pricing system implemented by ticket selling platforms and artists feels like a stack in the back of the fans.
Some claim this ploy is intended to help keep live music afloat, a necessary evil as the industry grapples with the rippling aftereffects of COVID-19. But high prices could ultimately alienate supporters, without whom the live music industry can’t survive.

So, what does the future of live music hold? As far as the long term is concerned, it’s too early to say. But in light of recent turbulence, we may see high prices for the next few years as the sector struggles to remain afloat.