The B List: Eight Bands That Could Charge More For Tickets But Don’t

6. Them Crooked Vultures – Average Ticket Price = $45.16

Even though Them Crooked Vultures have been selling out shows coast to coast, this supergroup has kept prices under $50.

5. Radiohead – Average Ticket Price = $48.08 (From 2008)

Back in January, Radiohead played a show to benefit the relief efforts in Haiti for which the group sold tickets by auction. In the end, the minimum price you could pay for one ticket was $475. Now, we know this show was a benefit and at a smaller venue than the group usually performs at, but it does show what a major discount the band is giving on fair market value by selling tickets at an average of under $50 per.

4. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Average Ticket Price = $87.86

Okay, Bruce Springsteen’s average ticket price of $87.86 is nearly $20 more than any of the other artists on this list, but The Boss has also accomplished way more than any of the other artists. Despite the fact that he could easily charge over $100 a ticket for the worst seats in the house at each of his shows and still them out, Springsteen doesn’t gouge his fans.

3. Pearl Jam – Average Ticket Price = $59.34

Pearl Jam has been all about their fans since forming and even fought a losing battle against the extremely powerful Ticketmaster in the mid ’90s. While tickets to Pearl Jam shows aren’t exactly cheap, they still sell out nearly every show and generally keep prices the same for the best seats in the house and the worst.

2. Phish – Average Ticket Price = $48.23

When Phish reunited last year demand for tickets to their shows was at an all-time high. If the group wanted to charge $75 for tickets to Hampton, they certainly could have and gotten away with it. But Phish continues to keep ticket prices under $50, a rarity for shows in arenas and amphitheaters. Take a look at DaveO’s editorial from last year to see just how much money the group could have made if they set the price to equal the demand.

1. Wilco = Average Ticket Price = $34.81

If you look at the list of US tour dates on Wilco’s website, you’ll see that every show has sold out. Despite the band’s ever-increasing popularity, they have still kept average ticket prices below $35, a miraculous feat. No one leaves more money on the table than Wilco and their fans appreciate it.

All average ticket prices were compiled by

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14 Responses

  1. If all of these artists could charge more, how come people have so many stories of tossing tix at Phish shows? I personally sold an extra Wilco ticket for $15 last summer. This article is poorly though out. Of course Red Rocks tix were fetching a high price. But even Fenway had extras floating all over the place.

    This is exactly the logic that scalpers use to screw us all, and nothing pisses me off more.

    In short, I would say all of these prices are TOO HIGH. Wilco is about right for me, Phish is worth $40, exceptions as noted.

  2. Are you the same Rob S. that commented that the Boston Wilco presale sold out in 11 minutes and just yesterday was looking for a ticket at a “reasonable price”?

  3. I was given tickets to see Them Crooked Vultures at Roseland a few weeks back because a friend of a friend couldn’t go. The ticket price printed on the ticket was $65… and that’s before TicketMaster charges, which probably put them over $80.
    $65 for regular floor at Roseland – I remember thinking, “Wow… thank God I didn’t have to pay for this.”

  4. Great list! I was surprised to see Vampire Weekend tix at Radio City so cheap. Always pleasantly surprised to see Phish and Wilco tickets so cheap year after year.

  5. Having just filled out an order for about $784, it feels weird to say, but thanks Phish for keeping the prices fair. I don’t really see how they could go much lower.

  6. @ Rob S: scalpers are able to “screw people over” (in your words) because people DO pay higher prices for scalped tickets. Don’t blame the scalpers, blame the people who purchase tickets from scalpers, making it lucrative for them to do so.

    This article points out bands that price tickets lower than market-clearing price, making it possible for some people not able to purchase tickets suddenly able to. In fact, bands could get rid of the scalpers you hate so much by simply charging the market-clearing price to begin with: a move I suspect you’d complain about even more.

  7. Good list, Scotty, and I’d add Drive By Truckers to it. The current DBT tour is mostly asking $25 before fees (and with good openers like Lucero and Langhorne Slim), and that’s in venues where you’re getting a pretty intimate Truckers experience. (In NYC, it’s Webster Hall, whereas they were at Terminal 5 last time, and in Boston, it’s House of Blues. DBT could pretty easily pack clubs/theaters a venue capacity level higher than each of those.)

  8. really?!
    you guys really think to yourself when you see a band, “WOW I WOULD HAVE PAID TWICE AS MUCH MONEY TO SEE THIS BAND!!!” I love live music and all, I am so happy to see bands still care about keeping prices low. The author of this article should be glad he isn’t paying a buttload and write about stuff relevant to music.

  9. I’m with @bobbyhill.

    @Zach – my point is that when you buy from scalpers, you’re often paying too much. They buy the tix, set the price high (so they can make a profit), then hope that by mob mentality they’ll make money. Truth is, these tix are overpriced, and I bet you would eventually sell for face if only fans actually attending the concert bought them.

    Exceptions: Phish @ Berkley, Wilco @ Brooklyn Bowl.

    I’ve seen Boston Wilco tix go for below face already. The tix sold out in 12 mins because scalpers have dialers etc. that game the system.

    My last line indicates that because I’m a chump, I look this beast in the face, and still buy tix ahead of time because I love music. I just wish I could roll up to the venue and buy tix Day of Show for most concerts rather than deal with B.S.

    For what it’s worth, I put in for Berkeley, and will share the wealth if I get lucky. Probably won’t.

  10. I like the intention of this list. Pearl Jam does it right. I haven’t seen them in years but they sell out big venues worldwide, keep their prices reasonable & still make (I’m guessing) a fine living.

    According to Billboard, Phish made $9,998,242 in 2009. Safe to say that mostly came from touring. And Bruce made $156,327,964 in 2008 & $57,619,037 in 2009. While he probably made a few million in album sales the vast majority must have come from tickets. My point on him: the Boss could charge less and still make millions & millions & millions. “It’s the working, the working, just the working life.” Thanks Boss.

    FYI – Neil Young’s first ticket prices are announced for his solo acoustic tour with tickets priced at $245, $125, $85. The overhead must be tremendious for the guitars, piano & pump organ. Thanks Neil.

  11. Nice list, but I have to says it’s a joke putting Bruce Springsteen on the list, it may be nice that he’s under 100, he is in no way helping out his fans. Dave Matthews Band can be categorized in the same way, tickets are cheap, but definitely not wow, thats like seeing them at a small venue

  12. The trick many bands use is to make the face value tickets low, but then hawk many of the choice seats on Stubhub and Tickets Now. In other words, they scalp their own seats, and avoid looking greedy. Bruce in fact discovered this was being done behind his back.

    Not sure if any of the above bands do this, but certainly Phish is suspect when you see blocks of 8 tickets in the third row being sold for thousands two minutes after an onsale.

  13. let’s throw Umphrey’s McGee in the ring – saw the fine lads in March for < $25 but got a 3+ hour show; saw Heart last summer @ $40 and the ladies BARELY played 90 minutes

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