The longest, loudest boom is in live music. Between 1999 and 2009 concert-ticket sales in America tripled in value, from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion (see chart 1). Ticket sales wobbled in America during the summer of 2010, but that was partly because some big-selling acts took a break. One of the most reliable earners, Bono, U2’s singer, was put out of action when he injured his back in May. Next year many of the big acts will be on the road again, and a bumper year is expected.
It is not that more people are going to concerts. Rather, they are paying more to get in. In 1996 a ticket to one of America’s top 100 concert tours cost $25.81, according to Pollstar, a research firm that tracks the market. If prices had increased in line with inflation, the average ticket would have cost $35.30 last year. In fact it cost $62.57. Well-known acts charge much more. The worldwide average ticket price to see Madonna last year was $114. For Simon & Garfunkel it was an eye-watering $169. Leading musicians have also, by roundabout means, seized a larger share of the mysterious “service” charges that are often tacked onto tickets.
Budding artists, like Sean Fournier realize giving away the music might lead to ticket sales in the future. Download his album, rip, share, burn. Of course this strategy might be a bit more productive if I could find out where he is playing.