Prince tickets for $250, Bon Jovi for $475: How much is too much? - Reverb

Prince tickets for $250, Bon Jovi for $475: How much is too much for concert tickets in 2013?

As we announced earlier today, tickets to Prince’s four Ogden Theatre shows in May are $250 apiece, plus fees (equaling $27ish each ticket).

Some fans snatched up tickets instantly, taking ownership of the opportunity to see a pop legend in a 1,700-capacity club. Others immediately took to the Internet to hate on the admittedly high ticket prices, balking that such a show could ever be worth that kind of money.

Which camp are you in? Are the shows priced too high or just right?

The best way to find out: Pull up now. (Yeah, tickets are already on sale.) Put a couple tickets in your basket. (There are still tickets left, at least there were when this was posted on Friday.) And there’s the gun-to-your-head scenario: Will you spend $277 on a single concert ticket?

Real talk: Is $250 per ticket a lot? Yes, it is. But is it really all that outlandish? I don’t think so. And here’s why.

Prince is a true legend who hardly tours. When he does come through Colorado, he normally plays the Pepsi Center or Fiddler’s Green – both 18,000ish-seat spaces. He’s at that level. So let’s compare him to other rockers playing at that level. How about Bon Jovi, since they’re playing the Pepsi Center on April 16.

Ticket prices for Bon Jovi’s upcoming Denver show range from $19.50-$475. True, you can sit in the nosebleeds for cheap. But if you’re up front, you’re paying $475, almost twice the Prince rate. Heck, the average of Bon Jovi’s low and high prices, $19.50 and $475, is $247.25 – just a couple dollars off Prince’s price point.

And that’s for Bon Jovi.

Surely the Rolling Stones will announce a tour in the coming months/years, and just wait for those prices; Mick, Keith and the boys are known (and celebrated in a really perverse way, even) for pushing the limits of taste and excess when it comes to their exorbitant ticket prices.

Some artists refuse to play that game. Look at Bruce Springsteen, who is arguably a bigger deal than Prince and Bon Jovi combined and rarely lets his ticket prices rise to the point of absurdity. And kudos to him. But the reality of today’s oft-broken music industry is that artists, promoters and venues will be charging premium prices for their best tickets.

And when Prince is playing a small venue like the Ogden, every ticket is one of their best tickets.

Is $250 a lot of money for a concert ticket? Yes, regardless of who’s playing. But is it too much for a ticket to see Prince play a 1,700-capacity club? Nope.

And if Prince delivers four appallingly great sets of pop, funk and beyond (as only he can), there’s a chance many concertgoers will leave the Ogden in May telling their friends that it was “worth every penny” – worth every one of those 27,700 pennies.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and editor at The Denver Post.

  • Anon

    Also, the unfortunate reality is that, if tickets had been $50 or $60 for Prince, they would have instantly sold out, with a great many of them already listed for sale by scalpers. Re-sale price might have been right around that $250 mark. In that case, what is better, for the artist to get the $250 ticket price or for the artist to get $50 or $60, while a scalper gets the difference? (Of course, the artist does not get 100% of the ticket price, but the point is the same).

  • Richard T.

    I think the Springsteen example is a telling one. Unlike the rest of the artists discussed, my understanding is that Springsteen tends to carry all the financial risk on his U.S. dates (at least the non-festival ones). That is, he contracts local promoters to partner on production and marketing, but at the end of the day, if he’s got a soft run of shows, there are no guarantees keeping the tour from running into the red. He needs to ensure maximum sell-through to move merch, so his relatively low ticket price is his insurance. And he (still) tours frequently enough that he wants return ticket-buyers, which the lower ticket price also bolsters. The rest of the artists essentially get a guarantee that won’t buckle if the room is 40% sold night of show. That lofty guarantee dictates the resulting ticket prices.

  • Andy Rok

    agree with everything said here.

  • Paul

    Having seen both Prince and Bruce Springsteen, I’d have to say, Prince’s show blows Springsteen’s out of the water. Unfortunately, Bruce looks like he’s having convulsions on stage while tryin to sound like Joe Cocker. However $250 for Prince’s show is still a bit steep.

  • Dutch cupcake

    Is it too much? Depends on how much you have. But LA was treated to 25 Prince shows with many tickets as low as $25. 2 years ago. (Supposedly to help out the many Low-income fans in that part of LA). That spoiled us. It would have been nice to seePrince make that gesture again. At this price I can’t go.

  • PissedInterested

    So do the math, 1700-capacity x $250 x 4 nights = $1.7M. That’s the equivelent of a Pepsi Center or Fiddler’s show at an avg $94 ticket.
    So choose your experience.
    For my money, I’d like to see more of these shows in smaller venues because larger venues and festival sound systems are horrible. Not to mention the crowd can be way sketchier.

  • Bianca

    “Heck, the average of Bon Jovi’s low and high prices, $19.50 and $475, is $247.25 – just a couple dollars off Prince’s price point.”
    Who taught you how to determine the average of something?
    You gotta include the amount of tickets sold in each price range. There are a lot more tickets priced between 40 and 100 bucks then the really expensive Diamond Circle ones, so your whole math is clearly off base.
    No idea how you determined that Springsteen is a bigger deal than Bon Jovi and Prince combined, but whatever your personal opinions about the artists mentioned are you can’t make up facts by messing up simple Maths operations like averaging something.

    • Ricardo Baca

      Hey, Bianca. I didn’t claim to arrive at the average ticket price for the entire show, which would have been a more complex formula. I simply averaged the “low and high prices,” as I said in the story.

  • Cali Behr

    Jon was on Katie Couric talking about the new Bon Jovi tour. I forget the exact details but the stage setup costs a fortune, there’s a convoy of semi’s, and hundreds of employees. In short – the overhead is massive. The more the overhead – the higher the ticket prices.

  • Facts

    The $475 tickets for Bon Jovi are all located in the pit area in the stage. Total amount of seats 150-160 max. The $19.50 seats in the nosebleeds. Those who want to be up close pay extra. I’d much rather have it that way than Springsteen’s way when someone in the the lower level at the front right beside the stage pays the same as someone in the back corners of the venue.

  • Barbara Doppes

    oh – dorothea hurley – a gorgeous husband and healthy kids are not enough for you – you need 42 mil for a city view – outrageous ticket prices – blah blah blah – you and bon could have bailed the ‘Jersey shore’ out yourselves during Sandy – but – you choose to ‘move on’ and ‘promoate’ – like true ‘steel cowboys’ – with money coming out your butts-

  • Steven Duncan

    I agree that $250 is too high for the average person but I understand when it comes to the size of the venue. It’s proportional to the cost it would be to have a private concert with Prince. I’ve gone to see Prince in an arena and most of the tickets were very reasonable.