The seemingly never ending price increase of concert tickets. Whilst this is not exactly a debate that is limited to Kpop (just look at the numerous reports of sketchy ticket touting here in the UK, and the overall public discontent with prices rising year upon year), it’s clear that, to many, this particular genre is a repeat offender when it comes to overpricing tickets. But, is that really just because promoters want to fleece fans for everything they have, and ensure they make a huge profit? Or, is it in fact that in order to bring the high-octane show, jacked up production, and, well, an artist all the way from Korea, high ticket prices are necessary?
It’s a difficult question to answer, and one that provides many grey areas. So, to consider this debate, it’s worth us taking into account some case studies, as well as some factual information about ticket prices, production costs etc. to reach an informed conclusion.
Firstly, it should be taken to account the price of tickets for these shows in Korea itself. For NCT 127’s NEO CITY : SEOUL – The Origin concert, the price was around £82.91 (121,000 won). So, when that same show came to London and prices varied from £68-148, that made sense, right? The answer is the clichéd “inconclusive.” On one hand, it was easy for the promoters to charge the same, or at the very least, a very similar price. It’s a logical strategy when you take into account that the production wasn’t severely compromised, the artist fee would have been fairly high, and people were willing to pay whatever was required to see the band’s debut in London. However, that would be missing a key point: most prices, no matter the country, are overpriced.
As much as people love the high-end spectacles, when too many promoters, advertisers, and labels get in the way, the only way for a profit to be made is by ramping up the prices as high as possible. When G-Dragon ventured to Birmingham and London in 2017, prices ranged from £65-165. Yes, Kwon Ji-Yong may be a once-in-a-lifetime superstar act, but astronomical high-end prices take away the chance for a key audience base to attend a live show; the working class. High ticket costs mean that the concert market is now geared entirely to the middle class and upwards, with little wiggle room. And, although £65, the lower price range, isn’t too out-of-reach, that accounts for a very select few seats in the venue, and are often sold-out in a matter of seconds, leaving only the top-dollar views left.
Contrarily, though, there are still a couple of examples of concerts being accessible; and this should be celebrated, as in an unstructured and unpredictable market, it’s rare to see this these days.
Firstly, Eric Nam. Eric graced these fine shores this Summer for a European tour, and brought with him a heck of a show. Also importantly, though, was the fact that it was priced fairly. There might not have been pyrotechnics, nor huge electronic screens displaying headache-inducing images, but for £30, there could be no argument from any attendees. There were professional dancers, Eric himself (artists cost money, unsurprisingly), a support act (Steve James) and a setlist that ensured anybody who turned up to the show came away satisfied. As well as this, it was easy to see that there was a hugely diverse audience, and people were there of differing ages, gender, race, and social background. Simply put, that is what a concert should be able to do, break the barriers people may have within society, and bring people of all backgrounds together in enjoyment of one particular thing. It shouldn’t just be exclusive to those fortunate enough to afford the luxury.
Secondly, select tours for hip-hop artists, such as Jay Park, Crush and DPR Live, are all reasonably priced too. Granted these type of concerts are almost always organised by Cult of Ya, who ensure that their concerts remain accessible to as many as possible, but it’s still a huge relief, and a mark of respectful promoting that these shows are affordable. Taking away ticket fees, Jay Park tickets can still be purchased for £40, and given the stature of the artist, it’s hard to complain over such pricing.
There is still one company that provides a grey area on the topic of ticket prices, though: MyMusicTaste.
When it comes to MyMusicTaste, they can be given some room to breathe when it comes to how they price their tickets, as it is clear that they do the bulk of the work when it comes to these concerts, and that in itself is a costly venture. However, when you choose to run separate VIP events that don’t include a ticket, and price them at $350+, that is an issue. Of course, again it’s worth looking at the fact that this is a company that chooses to take a lot of costs on themselves, and work through a lot of the finer details, even helping to provide security on occasion. That automatically means that prices will need to be higher, because the aim is, and has to be as a functioning company, to make a profit. How much of a profit, though, is up for debate, and the whole idea of the almost endless price tiering at their shows is something that could leave a lot of customers at a disadvantage.
With that being said, MyMusicTaste are certainly not the worst offenders nor will they ever be bad enough to suddenly call for boycotts or protests of ticket prices. They are simply a business that realise that there are people ready and willing to pay whatever is necessary for a ticket given that these acts are hot commodities in the music industry, and can occasionally be hard to come by for international tours. It’s a shame that many people may find themselves priced out of buying a ticket, but that is a wider-scale issue that falls on society itself, not ticket promoters.
So, to conclude, tickets prices are both justified and overpriced. It’s hard to argue with the simple business practice of wanting to make as much profit as possible on things without aggravatingly overstepping the line, but yet easy to both sympathise and empathise with many working class people who find they can’t afford to attend these concerts anymore. And, whilst we can certainly hope that a lot more follow Eric Nam’s trail of thought in regards to concerts, in a capitalist society, it’s going to be more of a rare pleasure, than the new norm.
Opinions expressed are solely the writer’s own and may not represent the views or opinions of UnitedKpop Ltd.