How much is too much?

November 16, 2012 at 09:57 PM · Two incredible violinists are coming to my area in the next 1-3 months. Both of whom I'd love to see. But ticket price is incredible. I don't feel it to be in good taste to name the violinists or to quote actual amounts, but individual ticket prices are on par with a car payment. This is just ludicrous in this economy to charge such outlandish prices. Most of the "hottest", arena-filling acts in the music business charge nowhere near this kind of price. I guess I can understand if I'm the kind of riff-raff they want to keep from going to a concert of this type, but has it always been like this?

Replies (22)

November 16, 2012 at 10:29 PM · What's the price for a ticket? Actually, I'd debate the idea that the big stadium-selling pop acts charge less. I saw someone on tv who had paid $700 to see Madonna.

November 17, 2012 at 01:54 AM · You're kidding ? $700 to see Madonna ?

Regards the violinists : you have to remember that the price of the ticket is not just for the few hours of performance ; it is also for the thousands of hours of practise that led to the performance.

November 17, 2012 at 02:24 AM · I think its fantastic - that classical musicians can command that kind of ticket-dollar. Maybe its the beginning of a revival of sorts. Lets hope...

November 17, 2012 at 05:15 AM · I paid $700 + to see Mr Pinchas Zukerman. It was pricey but I thought it was worth every penny. I guess it really depends if you enjoy their playing? I am kinda sad so many people are willing to pay big bucks to see pop stars...some are even tone deaf-can't-sing. Again it depends who they are. If they are my fav artists, I will not hesitate

November 17, 2012 at 06:30 AM · James Bailes says:

I don't feel it to be in good taste to name the violinists or to quote actual amounts, but individual ticket prices are on par with a car payment.


I think it's in perfectly fine taste to "name" them.

After all, they put their "name" on said ticket with said price; as such it's publicly available information and not in the least bit improper to state. Besides which, it would make for an infinitely more entertaining thread.

November 17, 2012 at 02:57 PM · James Ehnes and Joshua Bell? Individual tickets around $80 or so?

November 17, 2012 at 06:37 PM · I think it should be noted that its not the artiste that sets the ticket price, but the venue. To some extent it will depend on the player's fee but not necessarily.

November 17, 2012 at 10:15 PM · Interesting point, Elise. I'm confident that both the artists will play before capacity crowds, and I know they'll enjoy the shows immensely. Guess I'll just have to wait and download the bootleg :-)

November 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM · I read somewhere recently that tickets for the upcoming Rolling Stones 50th anniversary microtour will be about $750. It is the Stones and not Madonna, but still . . .

James, I'd be curious to know what price point you are talking about. With or without an orchestra? Is the event a fundraiser?

November 17, 2012 at 11:19 PM · everyone has their ups and downs, but people can frequently find a way to stretch for a special occasion if they look hard enough- maybe mow a few lawns, do some cleaning or painting, give up something else. Also, many people find ways to get on staff at the hall as an usher or something and see a lot of concerts for free. Be as resourceful as you can and see if you can work something out.

I got some tix to see Josh Bell for $75, I think, in an excellent smaller venue, Spivey Hall. The site says the concert is also supported by some grants.

November 18, 2012 at 12:42 AM · "Regards the violinists : you have to remember that the price of the ticket is not just for the few hours of performance ; it is also for the thousands of hours of practise that led to the performance."

How much the artist in question practiced doesn't really factor in (since they all practice). It's all demand and the venue's need to recoup whatever the artist fee is.

November 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM · I usually buy the cheap seats and have never spent over 60 per ticket. I'd also like to know who you are talking about. My whole family saw Joshua Bell at a local theatre and sat top row second level and loved it---performance and sound---and we got to meet him in person after the show where he took pictures, signed autographs and spent a little time talking violin with my sons. Even Perlman tickets were available recently for under 100.

November 19, 2012 at 12:32 AM · If the people are prepared to pay top dollar for top violinists it is likely that there will be an increas in general demand for solo strings - which means more soloists. I've noticed quite a lot of lesser-known violinists performing of late - that is an excellent sign!

November 19, 2012 at 04:48 AM · If you want to see Joshua Bell, you're going to pay a pretty penny. But there are very good violinists who are not celebrities giving concerts and recitals. $700 is a lot for a concert. But $100-200 per seat is probably what it takes these days to keep the artist and the orchestra afloat. Rolling Stones and Madonna? Heck, some folks pay as much to see a damned college football game. I recently paid I think around $30 for the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields string ensemble (oh my God were they ever good, the played Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, and Brahms), and maybe $40 for Mark O'Connor in a solo recital (including a premium membership in the venue to access tickets before general sales). Great seats in both cases, center-orchestra, a third of the way back.

November 19, 2012 at 07:20 AM · I believe I paid $50-60? for James Ehnes.

I can't really recall.

If you check prices in, say, Vegas, you could pay as much as $1000 + for a pop artist...

it does depend on the location and venue

November 19, 2012 at 01:23 PM · Hi,

Prices are based on many factors. There are many things that go into producing a concert, and the artist's fee is often at the bottom of the list. There is the cost of the hall, technicians, piano tuner, publicity/advertisement to cover first. Ticket prices are also influenced by the level of sponsorship for a concert. If the concert is independent and there is no sponsorship, then the tickets will be higher. I know that there are complaints about artist's fees, but remember that artists have to usually pay for transportation, lodging, meals and a percentage to their agent. And in the end, the artist still has to make a living doing what he or she does.

Hope this sheds some light on the process of concert production.


November 19, 2012 at 02:14 PM · The cost to hire top-name soloists can be only part of it. Orchestras sometimes get those players in AND offer preferential seating, meet-and-greets, hor d'ouvre parties, etc.,etc., to use the name to try to generate operating funds. If it works, well, good for them.

November 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM · Do they have student or seior rates? Call the venue and ask how you can gt in for less. There is always a way.

November 19, 2012 at 06:43 PM · I agree with Elise.

We paid next to nothing to hear James Ehnes (£15 for 2 tickets) and Joshua Bell was if I recall only £20/£30 at the Barbican Hall in London which is a prime venue.

It is definitely not something the artist can set/control. There are various management policy issues, venue and other cost factors to be considered and there is also the issue whether and the extent to which, a concert is sponsored by say, merchant banks and other "wealthy" corporate advertisers like City law firms.

There are also some venues that make it a point to make concerts and prices accessible to promote classical music like the Wigmore Hall where even a recital by Maxim Vengerov (he is very expensive elsewhere) is, relatively affordable.

November 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM · Too bad you weren't on the Washington DC subway platform on Jan 12 2007. You could have seen a 45 minute performance by Joshua bell for the loose change in your pocket.

November 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM · Janine Jansen is gonna have a concert here in utrecht on december 26th and it costs 16 euro :D

November 22, 2012 at 04:06 AM · I agree with Thessa. Sponsorship is the key.

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