Why Are Concert Ticket Prices So High?

ByABC News
March 13, 2003, 4:04 PM

March 15 -- A ticket to a Rolling Stones concert cost about $8 in 1969. Today, it can cost you up to $350 to get into a Stones show.

Prices of concert tickets are rising faster and higher than those for movies, theater even sporting events. But rock 'n' roll is supposed to be the anti-establishment art form, and maybe that's why so many fans feel aggravated that rock once for the masses is now often for only the rich.

"I'm like an old rock 'n' roller and I can't go see them," said 47-year-old Steve Rex.

Outside a recent Rolling Stones concert in New York City, devoted Stones fan named Avi was desperate to get into the show. But he was shocked at the $350 price tag. "It's ridiculous; it's insane $350 to see anybody, I don't know, I wouldn't pay it."

Even if he could afford it, he says he wouldn't want to give his money to what he imagines is some corporate pickpocket standing between the box office and the Stones. "I assume there's some guy standing on top of the buildings here on a big leather chair that's getting all the money," Avi said.

Whos to Blame?

So who is getting all the money? Why are ticket prices so high? Some people say it's the rock stars just being greedy. Others blame a massive media conglomerate called Clear Channel Communications.

Even huge stars like Grammy Award winner Dave Matthews say they're troubled by what Clear Channel is doing to the music business.

"A big company like Clear Channel has every opportunity to sort of take over every edge of the business," Matthews said.

And that's exactly what some people say Clear Channel is doing.

Clear Channel is No. 1 in radio station ownership, the concert promotion industry, and ownership of concert arenas.

Since Clear Channel started buying up the industry, the average concert ticket price has risen by one-third. The sharp increase was so alarming, it triggered a Senate investigation last month.

Rocker Don Henley testified about Clear Channel before the Senate committee.