You never think a simple rummage through your parents’ old knick-knacks would lead to a full research project and eventually an article – yet here I am.
After looking through my dads’ stuff I stumbled across some concert tickets – I was intrigued due to my keen interest in music, however, it wasn’t the artist or the venue or even the worn-down condition of the tickets that attracted me to delve in further, no, it was the price on the tickets.
Most fans would be willing to pay over-the-odds to see their favourite band nowadays. It’s difficult to imagine seeing big artists like Beyonce, Adele or Ed Sheeran for any less than £50 – yet these artists sell out tours with tickets these prices, and even spark huge re-sales on ticket-selling websites for up to £1000 – much to most of the artists’ dismay.
So, just imagine seeing one of these artists for as little as £8.40 – kids back in the 80s did just that. After looking through my dads’ historic tickets to see The Smiths in 1984 , it would have cost him £8.40 in today’s money, as well as bands like New Order for £12.94, just £16.71 for the Liverpool City Council Benefit featuring The Smiths, New Order, John Cooper Clarke and The Fall and arguably the most famous at the time The Police in 1980 for just £20 – reasonably priced compared to an Ed Sheeran concert costing double, if not triple the price.
Another issue fans face is merchandise prices – especially at tours. Artists charge over the odds, starting at around £30 for a tour t-shirt. Most fans often are willing to pay this as well, as they feel this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy these items, to prove that they attended.
However, in a lot of cases, the artists then end up selling this merchandise online after their tour anyway – and often at lower prices. I looked into old merchandise – for example, The Police who charged around £4 for a t-shirt, and £8 for a sweatshirt. However nowadays they charge £30+ for a t-shirt and up to £60 for a sweatshirt. It has become apparent that nowadays merch prices are extravagant and not catered towards all fans, as many would struggle to afford these extravagant prices.
Artists like Beyonce and Justin Bieber also charge extortionate prices for their merchandise, starting at around £40 for a t-shirt, and £60+ for a sweatshirt or any other type of merchandise. However, these artists have created a more revolutionary way to sell more by making their merchandise appealing to even those who are fans – their merchandise is considered ‘fashionable’ amongst young people, and so not just worn by a fan.
For example, Justin Bieber’s range of merchandise is sold in Topshop and Topman throughout the UK.
When researching, I felt it would be interesting to look into whether some of the artists my Dad saw back in the 80s still charged appropriate prices for their gigs.
I decided to focus on The Smiths, as Morrissey is still touring. I found out that in 1991 Morrissey charged only £12 for tickets – still extremely reasonable for the time, whereas the most recent tour charged up to £50 for a ticket – which arguably may be a decent price to see a renowned musician live, yet when considering how cheap prices were up until the early 2000’s it seems prices are continuing to escalate.
The price of tickets and merchandise nowadays arguably seems to take advantage of the youngsters who would do anything to see their favourite singer or band in concert and be able to take away ultimately a piece of the artist home with them. This inevitably puts a lot of pressure on parents/guardians as they want to provide everything for their children – without breaking the bank.
Looking back on the cheap prices of concerts back in the 80’s, it made me question whether artists in this day and age are as passionate about their music – is there a need for artists to perform at big venues, therefore inflating ticket prices, as apposed to wanting to provide a smaller intimate gig for their fans and more of them – ultimately providing a better experience for both artist and fans alike.