Why I Don’t Go to Many Live Events

I love the theater and music. I love sporting events. I love to watch live performances. Video is good, but there’s nothing like being in an arena watching your team or favorite artist perform. For all that I love live productions, however, I very rarely attend any. Why? Ticket prices.

I don’t dispute that artists and athletes need to be paid for their work. I don’t have any problem with artists and athletes making a fair profit from their work. I don’t begrudge the venue a share of the profit, either. They have costs to cover for electricity, maintenance, and staffing. What I object to is feeling like I’m being hosed when I buy a ticket, and that happens every time I have to get a ticket through TicketMaster (which is most of the time). By the time TicketMaster finishes tacking on service and handling fees, a $50 ticket can balloon to $75. For a group of four, that really adds to the total cost of the outing.

There’s no way to feel other than that I’m being taken advantage of. The productions may be great, but I never enjoy myself if I feel like the price I paid was way more than the show is worth. I don’t like feeling like I’m being raked over the money coals, so I vote with my wallet and rarely go to live performances any more. At least not the national ones.

My frugal side used to be able to dodge the TicketMaster fees by buying tickets at the box office. A few years ago, the box office would handle their own transactions and not run them through the TicketMaster network. You could save a ton of money by avoiding those fees. Now, though, almost all box offices run their transactions through TicketMaster. There is no way to dodge the fees. Whether you buy online or at the gate, you’re going to pay a ton of fees.

Instead of going to national productions that require me to use TicketMaster, I now go to local productions that handle their own box office transactions. Local theater, minor league sports, local musical acts, and charity events all give me a chance to see great entertainment for a fraction of the cost. Not only are the tickets cheaper to begin with, I don’t get hit with a lot of fees. If they do charge a fee, it is usually small and reasonable. I get the satisfaction of supporting up and coming athletes, performers and venues that don’t have huge operating budgets and corporate naming rights deals. I like knowing that my money is paying to support people who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to perform.

I will occasionally go to a major production, but it has to be something so great or rare that goes under the heading of a bucket list item or a life changing event. There are very few of those, which means I spend most of my time and money attending local events. If you derive enough joy from live performances (or you have enough money) that you can swallow all the fees and still enjoy the show, then by all means attend as many productions as you want. If, like me, you are budget conscious, I encourage you to look for local options that will cost you substantially less.

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4 Responses to Why I Don’t Go to Many Live Events

  1. I will also throw in that the experience is often better at a minor league game, community theatre, etc because you are going to get a more intimate experience. They make theaters and stadiums (think Cowboys stadium) as large as possible so they can pack in as many people as possible and maximize the take for any popular event – but there is nothing quite like a small, intimate experience where you can actually see the athlete or artist without binoculars or EVEN microphones!

  2. san says:

    My husband and I are both in professional theatre – he as an actor and I as a house manager. Many venues use volunteer ushers for their house staff. Start by volunteering for community theatre productions (once you seat people, you get to sit down and watch the show for free!). As you gain experience, volunteer for the larger venues in your area where the local symphony or traveling shows play. House managers are always looking for sharp dependable positive volunteers, and you just might get to see some great entertainment.

  3. Gail says:

    I stopped going to live performances years ago and it had nothing to do with cost but with the fact I can’t have my feet down that long as they swell up and all my mind registers is discomfort for at least half the show. I haven’t even been to a movie in over 9 years. We just saw an ad on TV last night that hubby was drooling over but he knew we couldn’t go, so it is wishful thinking on our part.

  4. Tim Seidler says:

    Although I admire your dedication to saving, especially since that’s what this blog is about, I just think the benefits of paying to see a live event outweigh the price issue.

    I’m an introvert by nature which you would think would lead me in the other direction. However, I know I’ll never in my life remember what I did with that $300 I saved and I’ll definitely have lasting memories of the performance I saw. For that reason I say be less frugal with experiences that take you out of day to day routines.

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