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.