Soaring ticket prices leave gig-goers cold

"The average person should be able to go to a concert now and then and it shouldn't be a luxury," said another.
"The average person should be able to go to a concert now and then and it shouldn't be a luxury," said another. Photo credit: Supplied / RNZ / Maisie Guy.

By Luka Forman of RNZ

An industry representative and gig goers both say event ticket prices are shooting up.

Brent Eccles, president of the New Zealand Promoters Association, has spent years organising events, but said it is getting more and more expensive to do so, after many staff moved to other industries during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"... Because they could work and they couldn't really work in ours, because we were kind of one of the last industries to come back on, so particularly labour is a lot more expensive."

And gig goers are feeling the pinch.

"Four, five years ago, we'd be buying tickets around the place for about $20, $30 at your local areas, nowadays it's about $60 or $70," one said.

"The average person should be able to go to a concert now and then and it shouldn't be a luxury," said another.

One punter said the higher prices meant they had to keep an eye on their spending on a night out.

"You can't even afford to get the Maccas afterwards, and that's a staple of New Zealand society, getting Maccas after town."

Dynamic pricing and ticket scalping

Another factor for some events is the idea of dynamic pricing, where ticket prices scale up and down depending on the demand.

However, Eccles said he does not think this system is particularly fair for consumers.

"I prefer when the price is just set, and you actually work out what you think you can do, and what you think you can sell, and go for that."

Eccles also said ticket scalping has become a big business, and the government should do more to regulate it.

"I think it's something that needs to be really looked at from a consumer perspective, because we elect governments to look after us and they're not in this case."

Hidden processing fees

Ticket companies charging service fees also adds to the bill, and Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said these fees can often mislead buyers.

"In many cases we see businesses representing that, I don't know, it costs $100 to go to a concert, but you can't actually get a concert ticket for $100 because of the transaction fees that are added on."

He would like to see rules brought in similar to Australia, where companies have to advertise the full cost of tickets - fees included.

"It is really a pretty simple concept, and we don't see why we couldn't have a similar law in New Zealand."

Duffy said the effective duopoly that Ticketmaster and Ticketek have in New Zealand means it is a difficult market to compete in.

"Well, it certainly makes it difficult for smaller ticketing companies to get into some of these larger venues and undercut what's being charged."

Eccles said prices ultimately come down to what punters are willing to pay, but it might be lesser-known acts that end up missing out.

"You have a major artist coming to town, you really want to see them, that's hardly the time where you say, I'm gonna make a stand against this.

"Where it does happen, is those that go 'I'm not sure if I want to go, actually I'm not going to go.'"

Ticketmaster and Ticketek were both approached for comment.