🎧 Downbeat.fm Vol. 5 Track 5

Everyone hates Ticketmaster, and everyone is right.

🎧 Downbeat.fm Vol. 5 Track 5
Thursday performing on stage

I had a whole post written about "best of" compilations, but there was a lot of concert ticket stuff in the news, so check back next month for that post.

Concert tickets and live music have been in the news a lot recently. First, the Department of Justice sued Ticketmaster and Livenation for monopolistic shenanigans, including the "dynamic pricing" stunt seen on tickets for Taylor Swift's Eras tour and Bruce Springsteen's 2023 tour (which I experienced firsthand).

Lately, there has been a rash of canceled tours, including The Black Keys, Jennifer Lopez, 311, and others.

No real reasons were given; J-Lo said she needed to spend more time with her family, and The Black Keys said they are reconfiguring tour logistics. Many people are speculating that high ticket prices are leading to lower ticket sales. I haven't seen anything yet that can unequivocally confirm that but it can't be ruled out.

I go to a lot of shows, but not a lot of arena shows. I spent some time looking through the 20 shows that I saw in 2023 and pulled up the ticket prices for any show at an arena or larger and here's what I found:

  • Bruce Springsteen (Houston) - $319/ea for lower bowl seats
  • Bruce Springsteen (Austin) - $202/ea for upper bowl seats
  • Death Cab for Cutie / The Postal Service (Austin) - $106/ea (GA/Pit)
  • The National (Austin) - $113/ea (GA/Pit)
  • Queens of the Stone Age (Austin) - $87/ea (GA/Pit)
Queens of the Stone Age perfoming on stage at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas
Queens of the Stone Age

Bruce Springsteen is a legendary artist, but those ticket prices are insane (see the above article about "dynamic pricing".

I don't think spending $106 for the GA area in front of the stage for Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service was that crazy, especially for a band that almost never tours (The Postal Service). These were also purchased from StubHub, so they have the marked-up price configured.

The prices for The National are definitely high, but I think the price for Queens of the Stone Age was fair.

The interesting thing about The National and Queens shows was that they were both at the same arena (also where I saw Springsteen in Austin), but no seats were sold in the upper level of the arena for either show.

This brings us to another reason concerts could be getting canceled. Bands are being booked in venues that are just too large for their audience.

I've seen The National three times, at venues that hold 2,500, 14,000, and 15,00 people. Not counting festivals, I've seen Queens of the three times at venues that hold 3,400, 2,300, 14,000, 15,000. These are massive changes in venue size. Keep in mind that for the last two venues on this over half of the venue seats were never on sale.

The Black Keys are one of the bands that are rebooking shows at smaller venues.

Pricing, however, is still a huge issue. A college student bought tickets to fly to Sweden to see Taylor Swift, and it cost her thousands less than it would have cost for her to see T-Swift in her college town here in the US.

I tried to get tickets to see Tool last summer in Austin, but tickets were going for $700 each. Diana Ross tickets were selling for several hundred to over $1,000. For $1,000 I better be able to get up on stage and be a Supreme for a song or two.

The majority of shows that I go to are under $50, but that's because the bands are not nationally known acts, and the venues barely hold 1,000 people. Major acts like Taylor Swift, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink, Adele, etc. all have high demand for their shows, but their fans are having a hard time affording tickets. Something needs to happen here, or touring, one of the major ways that musicians earn money, will dry up.

Maybe the Department of Justice can do something here, but let's not hold our breath.

Oh yeah, and Ticketmaster was hacked. Over 500 million customers were affected by this hack. The group that claims responsibility for the hack says the data included in the hack are "names, addresses, phone numbers and partial credit card details from Ticketmaster users worldwide."

May's Playlist

This month's playlist features Scarlet Demore, Tennis, Sloppy Jane, Sorry Mom, Dikembe, Fight Like Apes, and more!

Listen to this month’s playlist on

Legendary engineer and producer Steve Albini died at 61 early this month. If you like indie or punk rock, you've likely heard at least one album he worked on. He's worked with artists such as Pixies, Helmet, Fugazi, PJ Harvey, and maybe most famously, he engineered In Utero by Nirvana.

Middle Aged Dad Jam

It's not entirely music-related, but the soundtrack for Reality Bites is a banger and an essential 90s soundtrack. When Ali and I lived in Houston, we lived two blocks over from the Reality Bites fourplex. That building, and several around it are set to be demolished. It's "unknown" what's going to happen with the property, but it's Houston. Like every other historical building, it'll likely be torn down and replaced with cookie-cutter condos.

I don't know if it's still a thing, but I remember in middle school and high school one of the worst things you could be called was "poser".