Wait, how much!??

“Can I get an actual service to go along with that fee?” I thought to myself while buying a concert ticket last week. I was annoyed—this was a local venue, with local artists, and the base ticket price was only $15. Somehow, though, the final amount I was charged was $19.64. What’s the deal? Granted, $4.64 isn’t much, but it’s still essentially a third (24% to be exact) of the ticket price.


Annoying, but nothing to get really bent out of shape over. For larger concerts however, the fees increase significantly. For instance, the cheapest 2 tickets I could find to Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. Tour in Oakland, CA currently cost $114.30 each, for a total price of $228.60. Already an expensive concert, but take a guess as to what the real final price is:


$276.60. You're paying an extra $48 in service fees for two tickets (which of course they charge you twice for-once per ticket). An extra 20% on top of what you're already paying! That doesn't even include the fees added by whatever ticket provider you're using. Ticketmaster, Stubhub, or any other third-party provider will often slap their own fees on top of your purchase in many cases. Every time I go through this process, it feels like I'm hitting "reply" on an email from the Prince of Nigeria.

But what are these fees? I found a useful graphic at Wisebread.com:


On average, the artists take home about 70% of a ticket price, which is a good thing. However, service fees have been increasing since the 1990s, when the average service fee used to be 10% of the original price, including tax and venue fees. Nowadays, average service fee numbers are double that. Why? This can be mostly attributed to Ticketmaster's monopoly over the online ticket marketplace...they can essentially charge whatever they want to increase their profit margins.

The real question we're all asking ourselves is how to minimize these extra fees...and to be honest, there's not a whole lot of good answers. With online purchase being the primary avenue for finding your tickets nowadays, those service fees are essentially ubiquitous. My recommendations? Often times you can buy tickets directly from a bands' website, which can minimize service fees and get the bands a better take. Or, alternatively, just give Ticketmaster's monopoly the finger and buy your tickets directly at the box office whenever you can. While not true everywhere, many venues still have a traditional box office, and with everyone buying online 24/7, long concert lines are a thing of the past.

That may be a bit of a hike for some people, so you'll have to gauge the worth of the trip on a case-by-case basis. But it will save you some money on a few of those service fees, especially for larger shows. And sure, you might be spending some money on gas to get yourself there, but the gas works more for you than the fees do.