The hot summer season is the perfect time to see your favourite artist, but the rapidly rising cost of entertainment is making it harder to afford a big-ticket show.
Tickets have reportedly gone up by 60% from 2011, well outpacing inflation. One report shows the cost of Taylor Swift tickets has more than doubled since 2018, and Brazil has even introduced legislation dubbed the “Taylor Swift law” to combat the problem.
Meanwhile, the cost of hotel stays has risen for those travelling to see their favourite performers. The average daily rate for a hotel room was up 53.8% in Toronto and 44.3% in Vancouver at the end of last year.
Let’s take a look at what’s causing these increases and what you can do to make your next concert more affordable.
What is driving up the cost of concert tickets?
The rising price of concert tickets comes down to an unrelenting demand following the Covid-19 pandemic. The concert promoter, Live Nation, says 121 million fans attended 43,600 shows in 2022, an increase of 24% since 2019. It expects ticket sales to rise by another 20% in 2023. With more demand than tickets to go around, prices are likely to keep going up.
Live Nation is also the parent company of Ticketmaster, which has been roundly criticized for its anti-competitive practices. With little competition in the market, Ticketmaster is essentially free to hand over tickets to resellers and charge whatever fees it likes for the handful of tickets that actually end up on sale to the general public.
There’s also the increase of cost of putting on a show to think about. A 2017 article by The Guardian breaks down the costs of everything that goes into a concert tour from venues to labour, transportation, and even towels. If you’ve seen the price of towels these days, you know they’re a lot more expensive than they used to be.
These figures all assume you can get tickets to a show at face value, which isn’t always the case. Scalpers are keen to cash in on the demand for concert tickets and ask multiple times the face value – although it’s unclear whether anyone’s actually paying the high asking price.
Entertainment spending fuelling inflation
Finally, there’s the fact that fans are paying higher prices. Where entertainment expenses are usually the first to be cut back in a recession or inflationary period, Canadians are actually spending more where they’re expected to spend less. Data from Statistics Canada adjusted for inflation shows that spending on groceries and alcoholic beverages is trending down, while spending on entertainment, restaurants, and hotels are trending up.
As Canadians continue to prioritize these types of expenses, vendors are incentivized to continue raising prices. If a concert promoter can ask $1,000 per ticket and still sell out, why wouldn’t they?
Where is the money coming from?
All this begs the question: where are people getting the money to pay these big ticket prices? The average Canadian’s disposable income has fallen slightly over the past year, while spending on recreation and culture grew by 10% at the same time. That money has to come from somewhere, and all signs point to credit card debt.
The credit bureau Equifax says Canadians are spending 21.5% more on their credit cards than they did before the pandemic – an increase of roughly $400 per month since the first quarter of 2020. From gas to groceries and everything in between, more people are using credit cards to cover their costs.
That extra spending has, as expected, translated to extra debt. The average Canadian has seen their credit card balance rise by 14.5% over the past year and now carries $20,906 in non-mortgage debt.
How can I save money on concert tickets?
Somewhat ironically, one of the best ways to save on concert tickets is to use the right credit card – with the caveat that you pay off your balance in full, every month.
A travel rewards credit card can let you earn big rewards on your ticket purchases and make it easier to afford the travel arrangements to get you there. With an American Express card, you can also get access to the American Express Front of the Line program which offers presales to most of the biggest concerts, shows, and sporting events.
My favourite Amex card is the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card.
The Scotiabank Gold American Express card lets you earn up to 6 Scene+ points per dollar spent, which you can redeem for travel, groceries, and other rewards. It also pays 5 Scene+ points per dollar spent on entertainment (including concert tickets). And if you’re traveling to see a show, it carries excellent travel insurance coverage and has no additional fee on foreign currency transactions.
Another great choice is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card.
While it’s not eligible for the Front of the Line program, it pays up to 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent, has an excellent welcome bonus, and has the same travel features as the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card with the benefit of the near-universally accepted Visa badge.
The bottom line
The cost of entertainment is continuing to rise as post-pandemic demand remains to be tamed. Use the right rewards credit card to save money on your next concert. Or, consider keeping your money. If enough of us do, prices will have to come down.