Music industry selling out by overpricing concert tickets

The day the music died has come and gone.

It was Saturday night when I decided to log onto my computer and purchase tickets to a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert only to discover that ticket prices started at $96. I quickly logged off the Internet, quietly cursing the wind under my breath. There was no way I could justify spending so much on a concert while I still had school books to pay for.

After I calmed down I was reminded of a song Tom Petty wrote on the moral digression of the record industry. In the song, titled “Money Becomes King,” Tom chronicles the life of a rock ‘n’ roll singer named Johnny who is caught in a corrupt system of injustices. The singer’s agents overprice tickets to his concert and make him sing songs about light beer. I couldn’t help but wonder why the very person who wrote such a stinging rebuke of the modern record industry would allow himself to be subject to the same corruption that led to Johnny’s demise.

While the public can now buy tickets to Tom Petty’s concert for less, overpriced concert tickets remain a problem in the record industry.

In 2007, Pollstar released a list of the 20 top-grossing concert tours in North America. The list included artists such as Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Barry Manilow and Dave Matthews Band. The concert Web site determined that among the artists on the list, an average single ticket cost as much as $140.

The rise in concert ticket prices has squeezed the regular music listener out of the picture, allowing only those who have enough money to enjoy their favorite bands live. If someone were so lucky as to be able to afford concert tickets, there is no guarantee that they would be able to buy them. The Internet has made it easier for scalpers to buy out concerts and resell the purchased tickets for double, even triple their original prices.

According to USA Today, efforts to deregulate the resale of concert tickets are currently being made by 47 out of 50 states. There is only one recourse for a fan who wants to fight having to pay triple the price of their original ticket: They must join the artist’s fan club and buy their tickets pre-sale. To join the Highway Companion Club and buy pre-sale tickets to Tom Petty’s current tour, fans have to pay an additional $40. Couple this with the cost of the actual tickets and they might as well be buying their seats from an Internet scalper.

Rock ‘n’ roll, a genre of music that has its roots in subverting the administration, has sold out.

It used to be that rock was about the people, about the average listener. If music has become just another product to sell to the masses, you would think that record companies would at least be sure that people could afford to buy it.

Andrew Young is a junior radio-TV-film major from Overland Park, Kan.