The $400 ticket is already here, just look on the secondary market. The LA Times post “The Marriage of Ticketmaster and Live Nation: Say Hello to the $400 Ticket?” about Live Nation’s goal of raising prices misses on an important point in the debate about high ticket prices: Face value doesn’t matter, final price does.
The Times’ piece reads as a very pro-consumer commentary on what could end up as a consumer-neutral change in ticket pricing. Some consumers won’t end up paying more money for tickets if Live Nation gets its way. Live Nation’s goal is to divert above-face value revenue away from brokers. In other words, if we assume dynamic pricing is about the same as today’s secondary market, the same amount of money would simply be going into different pockets.
Though some prices will go up, there’s a good chance some consumers will pay less in the future – Live Nation wants to fill seats to make more money from stuff like beer, popcorn and parking. This was the case with some pricing trials for the Eagles concerts in California. The cheap seats were actually quite cheap.
To the consumer, what really matters is the final price paid for the more in-demand seats, not the face value of those tickets, since they’re already paying above face value on the secondary market. The Times wisely acknowledged the secondary market here:
Proponents of such "dynamic pricing" strategies would argue that the front row is already being sold for $400 on sites such as StubHub, so it might as well be sold at that value from the start. That is, after all, what the market dictates, and dynamic pricing and "seat maps," which easily allow a user to see how much more Row B costs versus Row XX, will add more tiers to concert ticket pricing. Would you pay a little extra for an aisle seat? Someday (perhaps sooner rather than later) you might have that option.
Because that secondary market already exists, and because dynamic pricing will create both more expensive and less expensive tickets, the real issue at hand is how consumers feel about diverting revenue from scalper/broker to the artist and promoter. As far as fans are concerned, whether it’s the primary market or the secondary market, prices will be what they will be.