Prices of concerts and festival tickets in Europe on the rise

07 July 2023 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Fees for premium concert and festival tickets are spiking well above the rate of inflation across Europe, according to a new study. While the raise of prices for individual gigs in the UK was smaller than many other economies, the country’s festivals saw the second highest boom in festival costs, behind the US.

The last year has seen headlines dominated by stories of record inflation, and the cost of living crisis. With wages rising far slower than the rate at which prices for goods and services are exploding, many consumers have been forced to cut back on spending.

As people struggle to make ends meet, more than 55% of consumers have indicated they would scale back so-called ‘non-essential spending’ in 2023. Meanwhile, in America, one poll saw only 27% of consumers able to by items of food and drink at the same rate they did a year ago – with 26% making do with buying them less frequently.

Prices of concerts and festival tickets in Europe on the rise

Even amid this economic picture, however, many companies have taken the opportunity to grow ticket prices at well above the rate of inflation. A new study from French consultancy PMP Strategy suggests that the organisers of international music festivals and tours have done exactly that – with the prices of the most expensive concerts rising at almost twice the rate of inflation since 2019.

According to the study, over the last four years, the cumulative rate of inflation since 2019 has been 13.6%. While the lowest fares for concert tickets have risen at less than the rate of inflation over that time – at 13.4% – the price of the most expensive tickets has ballooned by 22.7%.

Oddly enough, costs actually declined for premium tickets by 1% between 2019 and 2022, to an average of €108. Over the last 12 months, however, for anything other than seats in the nosebleeds, the average price for the most costly tickets has risen to an average of €137.

Prices of concerts and festival tickets in Europe on the rise

Looking to illustrate how these rises broke down across the global economy, PMP examined the pricing of six international tours. In doing so, they found that the US’ higher than average rate of disposable income per household had seen its consumers often become the most pronounced victims of price-rises in the sector – even though that ‘average’ is thrown off by the country’s higher number of high net worth individuals (still miniscule compared to the broader population).

As a result, Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour tickets see even the cheap seats go for a global high. No other tour examined by PMP had its least expensive tickets going for as much as €182 – which was the case for Beyonce’s US dates. Meanwhile, the most expensive tier saw prices up to €982. That was not even the highest price, though, which came from Madonna’s The Celebration Tour – which asked €2,555 for its most expensive tickets in the US.

In contrast, European prices were generally much lower. Due to the lower disposable revenue of UK households, Beyonce’s expensive tickets went for €473 there, and her cheaper seats went for as little as €56. Generally, French venues offered the best value for money, though. Muse, for example, billed its lowest prices for dates in France – at €62, compared to €70 in the UK, while the also offering a lesser price for its most expensive seats.

Prices of concerts and festival tickets in Europe on the rise

It was not only individual acts which saw their prices spike. Every size of festival saw admissions head upward dramatically in 2023. While the very largest saw average ticket inflation of 14% since 2019 to hit €79, this rose to 31% for events with capacities of between 15,000 and 30,000 people, charging an average of €55.

In the US and UK, however, prices were regularly above those averages. In all but one category, the two markets were the most expensive. In the case of the largest mid-sized festivals, tickets in the UK rose to €135 while the US charged an average of €159.

The forces enabling these rises was left up for discussion by PMP’s research. In markets where many consumers are struggling to eat or heat their homes, being able to push up gig prices at the present rate seems counter-intuitive. And while recent research suggests that different age demographics are less cautious with their discretionary spending at present, it is debatable how many Gen Z consumers have a spare €2,555 to burn – or indeed, how many of them would be willing to spend it on seeing Madonna.