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Exclusive Entertainment: How Concerts Became Unaffordable

By Ashley Tejeda | 5/4/17 9:21pm | Updated 5/4/17 9:21pm
Anna Moneymaker / American Word Magazine

Before coming to college, students look forward to that refreshing college lifestyle. For many Washingtonians, the city life means walking through U Street, night monumenting and heading to the Verizon Center to see our favorite performers. 

There will always be cheap bars and free museums for American University and other D.C. college students. But what about the students who are avid Drake and Rihanna fans? It’s become increasingly normal for students to put their whole heart into a favorite artist, but never see them perform. As college students, we have limited funds and not all of us can pull out a loan to go see Beyoncé perform. In a way, concerts have become a luxury. Our parents and the generation before them were able to enjoy concerts for low prices ­back then, Rolling Stones tickets were $10. 

When Ariana Grande came to D.C. on Feb. 27, front row tickets ran from $200 to $2000. “I wish they weren’t so much. We paid $50 but we sat all the way in the back,” said Amanda Ziegler, a junior in AU’s School of Communication. “Even though I’m a huge Ariana Grande fan, I wouldn’t pay that much.” Sam Anaya, who didn’t attend the concert, felt like she missed out. “I only have a certain amount of money,” she said. For many, it just isn’t worth it.

Going to concerts used to be an occasion for everyone, but now it’s a commercialized experience where meet-and-greets are upwards of $1500. Ticket prices started rising back in the 90s to counteract concertgoers buying from scalpers. According to Pollstar, “the Top 100 Tours of North America grossed a record $3.34 billion which was up 7 percent over last year’s $3.12 billion.” Even after the initial rise, we are still seeing prices steadily climb today. In a new era where radio recognition isn’t as important and fans don’t have to buy entire albums to listen to a song, concerts are one of the few constant forms of revenue for performers. We know our favorite artists have to pay their bills, but it still feels personal. We’ve taken one step forward because we’re closer to celebrities online, but we’ve taken two steps back when we have to work overtime just to get nosebleed seats. Today, those high-priced tickets are bought by radio stations and others who give away the tickets as prizes. The few available tickets are raised to what would be unbelievable prices, if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve gotten so used to them. 

“Nobody ever likes when ticket prices go up. Nobody ever likes when prices for anything go up. Unfortunately, that’s how the economy works,” said Seth Hurwitz, co-owner of the 9:30 Club, a concert venue near U Street. Although 9:30 Club does not book artists that might perform in the Verizon Center, they still seem to be suffering from rising prices also. No one is safe.

As much as we love our favorite, big-name performers, rising prices could boost viewership for indie artists who don’t yet have ‘megastar’ followings. As college students, we can choose to support local venues that provide a one-of-a-kind experience as opposed to the plastic, money-drenched shows of pop stars. So post your Insta photos at the next 9:30 Club concert and up show all of those insta-elitists by proving you don’t have to have money to enjoy a good concert. #icantaffordbeyonceticketsbuticanstillhavefun