Why People Used to Attend More Than 1.5 Shows a Year…

“You’re probably too young to remember this, but…”

Once upon a time, concerts were an affordable night out; now they’re akin to a small vacation. Which might explain why these days, the average American only goes to 1.5 shows a year.  And, why your father has a lot more concert memories than you do…

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15 Responses

  1. Ramie


    Or more varied acts appealing to a wider audience?

    Or Prettier ticket stubs?

    What is your point here?

    • balbers

      Are you really that thick-headed or are you just being an ass?

  2. McQuade

    Guessing price, considering most of these acts are still around and touring.

  3. txa1265

    Definitely price – I mean, I remember that I saw The Police twice in a row (once in Boston, again in Providence RI) on the Ghost in the Machine tour … total ticket price was <$25 - and with gas at ~$0.75 it was a cheap night!

  4. Chris

    Just for the fun of it I did some inflation numbers (currency conversion when needed) for all those ticket stubbs and came up with todays (2013) numbers.

    Concerts prices do seem to be going up more than inflation but probably accounts for money not being made from album sales (debatable)…I would say real prices have just about doubled-ish.

    Led zepplin July 28 1973 $6.50 = 2013 $34.08

    James brown 1969 $5.00 = 2013 $31.71

    Stephan stills 1972 $350 = 2013 $19.49

    Elvis 1977 $10 , $7.50, $5 3013 = $55.69, $41.77, $27.84

    Ted Nugent Texxas Jam 1978= $12.50 = 2013 $44.63

    Rolling Stones 1973 (15 & 17 Deutsche Mark convert to $10.20 & $11.47) = $53.47 & $60.13

    U2 1985 $14.40 = $60.13

    Red Hot Chili Peppers 1992 (£10.5 convert to $16.31) = 2013 $27.06

    Morrissy 1991 £12 = $18.64 = 2013 $31.86

    Madonna 1985 $15.00 = 2013 $32.45

    Lollapalooza 1997 $26.50 = 2013 $38.43

    • Jeff Robinson

      From an indie act standpoint, it’s difficult to get clubs to charge a $5 cover to bring a band in from out of town. Bands feel guilty charging more than $3 for a cover. Tough to get a guarantee of more than $100 a band member from clubs too. Most think they should book bands for $200 a night. 3-sets for $200. Insanity. Is this the option when someone decides NOT to see a major label touring act in 2013?

  5. Vincent Price

    As touring was (always) meant as promotion for the CD/record, prices were sane.

    Now that people steal (err.. i mean “share”) everything in sight, artists need to make ends meet somehow…

    If you visit pirate sites, you have ZERO rights to complain about ticket prices. period.

    • Visitor

      “If you visit pirate sites, you have ZERO rights To complain about ticket prices. Period.”


    • Svantana

      Even if you don’t visit pirate sites, why complain? It’s a free market, if you think prices are too high, see that as an opportunity to start a band/venue/management/whatever

  6. Guest

    Yes, I went to a lot more shows in the 70’s and 80’s than my kids, who are now in their 20’s, do. Part of it is them spending disposable income on gaming, but hte real reason is the prices.

    When SFX bought up all the regional promoters and turned it into what is now Live Nation, prices jumped significantly. Public corporations need to make their quarterly numbers, and they need to be ever-increasing, quarter to quarter.

    This is the same affliction the record companies got when they became parts of international conglomerates, and have quarterly numbers to make every quarter.

  7. Mykas Degesys

    This is a great post. Love the reply displaying the inflation adjusted ticket prices – it validates that ticket prices are increasing dramatically in real dollars. This makes sense when you think about it. Artists can’t live off the half a cent per stream they are earning (on average) from streaming music platforms, so they have to either (1) tour more, (2) sell more merch or (3) do 1 or 2 at higher prices. I think we’re seeing a lot of small bands touring more and a lot of major acts touring roughly the same amount but at increased ticket prices.

    One such company trying to help artists figure out how to get more fans to more shows (certainly more than 1.5 per year!) is ListenUp.fm. By using data on fans listening habits, we’ve figured out a way to promote shows at opportune moments for fans when they are highly engaged, increasing conversion rates of those who buy. Since its a two sided market, we’ve got a fan piece available at listenup.fm and an artist-facing platform with a beta being released next week. If you’re an artist or artist manager interested in participating in our beta, shoot us an email at info@listenup.fm.

  8. Visitor

    How many shows did people used to attend?

    • Houston

      I’m just shy of 60 and started going to “music shows” in the mid-60’s (much different back then). When they became the modern-day concert (headliner plus opening act) in the late 60’s, I was attending at least 6-10 concerts per year. Entering college in ’72, your “Student Activity Fee” usually funded discount tickets for at least 3 concerts per year.What no one has mentioned in regard to concert prices is the cost of “staging” the event. Years ago, you attended a concert to simply see the band and hear the music, which prompted you to buy the album/cd afterwards. Now the concert has become a “standalone production” of huge visual imagery and staging, far removed from music itself. Following this logic, it would make more sense for acts to release DVD’s rather than a cd/digital album.

  9. king crab

    I used to go to at LEAST 15 concerts a year from around 1970 – 1985, but yeah, ticket prices for good seats are astounding. I much better like the smaller venue, lower price, and still get kick-butt value for my dollar.

    I mean, who wants to fork out $75 to sit up high for The Stones?

    I can go to several venues and see very good acts for a fraction of that cost. Just saw Brit Floyd (Pink Floyd trib band) at House of Blues in Dallas. Decent price on tickets – but only on tickets – they were $35. Now EVERYTHING ELSE? Parking $20, drinks from $8 to $11 for a plastic cup BEER! So, no smoking inside, super high drink prices, parking, and you end up spending MORE than the ticket price. I think this is true everywhere.

    Smaller venues seem to me, at this point, to be really good. And, I DO have fond memories and stubs of GREAT shows from the early days. Great article and very true. Not JUST the cost of tickets, but the cost of the entire experience.