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 costs $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 will 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, artists take about 70% of a ticket price, which is a good thing. However, service fees have been increasing since the 1990s, with the average service fee being 10% of the original price, including tax and venue fees. Nowadays, average service fee numbers are double that. Why? Mostly because of Ticketmaster's monopoly over the online ticket marketplace...they can essentially charge whatever they want.

The real question is how to cut as much of this junk out as possible...and to be honest, there's not a whole lot of good answers. With online purchase being the main avenue for finding your tickets nowadays, those services fees are essentially ubiquitous. My recommendations? Often times you can buy tickets direct 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, 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.