I've been a regular gig-goer for over 25 years, and although prices have always been going up, between the early 80's and mid to late 90's, the increases always seemed to be fairly negligible... the odd 50p here or a pound there. But the last few years has seen prices going up by five and ten pounds a go. Today, tickets for any 'established' acts will now easy set ya back £50, £60 or £70.. which is outrageous for a couple of hours entertainment. Someone in my office was looking at tickets for Elton John, and was told they were over £100 each... face value! Oh and don't get me started on booking fees, handling fees AND postage fees!! (I remember when it was a 50p charge no matter how many tickets you bought!). Yet the 'entry level' gigs - and often my favourite shows... new bands in dark, dingy, small clubs - have changed very little, and it's still easy to have a cracking night out for a fiver.
For quite a while I remember that a fairly big gig was equal in price to an LP (about a fiver in the 80's and about £10-12 in the 90's). I remember this particularly in the 80's, as I was on very limited funds, and often had to chose between the two.
My theory for the incredible price hikes is that artists just ain't making the money out of releasing albums anymore. Live shows are probably the only way they can make money these days, so are fleecing the fans for as much as they can get. The arrival of e-bay has also not helped. Now every fucker is a ticket tout, buying up tickets for hot shows they have no interest in, and making the gig sell out quicker in the process. They then offer the tickets up on e-bay within minutes of buying them ("genuine reason for sale"... yeah, you are genuinely a greedy fucker!) for a bargain quadruple the face value. The trouble is, people by 'em. Once artists find out their tickets have been selling for double, treble or more, they are certainly going to think carefully about the ticket prices the next time they play. At some point, I'm convinced that some greedy promoter will cut out the middle man and put every single ticket for a show up for auction only... ensuring they can claw the maximum amount out of the poor old fans.
My mates have always taken the piss out of me for keeping my old ticket stubs, But these days they actually make quite interesting reading. Unfortunately I tend not to keep new ones these days, but I've just pulled a few old ones at random and the results were quite surprising.... Particularly when bands moved up to the bigger venue. These days that means double the ticket price, but the examples below show hardly any change.
Soft Cell (final show) - Hammersmith Palais - £4.90 (and it's a hand-written ticket too! how honest were we back then??!)
The Fall - Pink Toothbrush - £3
Erasure - Westminster City Hall - £6
Mission - Astoria - £7
Mission - Wembley - £8
Pogues - Town and Country - £7.50
Pogues - Wembley - £8
one day ticket for reading festival (inc wonderstuff, Ramones and Iggy Pop) - £12.50
Bowie - Wembley - £16
Psychic TV - Pink Toothbrush - £4
My Bloody Valentine - Pink Toothbrush - £3
Boys Wonder and My Life Story - Pink Toothbrush - £3
Frank Sinatra - Docklands Arena - £75!!!
Bowie - Docklands Arena - £25
Bowie - Milton Keynes Bowl - £20
Teenage Fan-Club - Pink Toothbrush - £3.50
Tin Machine - Brixton - £11.50!
Marc Almond - Royal Albert Hall - £12.50
Barbara Streisand - Wembley - £48.50 (yeah pricey, but wasn't she charging £200 last year?)
Marc Almond - Shepherds Bush Empire - £10
Blur (plus the likes of The Boo Radleys, Sparks, John Shuttleworth, Dodgy, The Cardiacs and more) - Mile End Stadium - £18.50
Day ticket for V Festival - £25
Sex Pistols (plus Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers + 6 other bands) - Finsbury Park - £22.50
Oasis - Earls Court - £19
The Monkees (all 4 original members) - Wembley - £20
I once worked with someone who told me that in 1980 he was forced to go see a local band, and was outraged at having to pay 75p to get in... Depeche Mode was their name. Anyone remember any 'bargain basements' gigs they went to?