Summer is coming, and for music lovers — summer concerts are returning. Over the last two years, many artists declined to perform live shows or did so in a limited way due to the coronavirus pandemic. But they have since resumed relatively normal touring schedules, giving concert-goers a cathartic sense of normalcy heading into the summer season.
Of course, concerts come with a literal price, as fans must buy tickets to see their favorite artists and hear their favorite tunes. But which genre of music has the biggest price tag?
To answer that question and find out how musical preferences impact how much fans should budget to see their favorite artists, FinanceBuzz looked at concert industry data for 800 of the top touring acts from 2017 to 2021. By collecting information on average ticket price, total ticket sales, and more, we found which music genres are most and least expensive to see live, which genres generate the most money, and more.
Classic rock was the most expensive music genre to see live. On average, concert-goers paid $119.14 per ticket to see a classic rock performance. The second most expensive genre was pop at $100.65 per ticket.
Springsteen on Broadway tickets were the most expensive tickets on average in three different years, 2017 ($496.16), 2018 ($508.93), and 2019 ($506.39). Those were also the three most expensive overall ticket costs in the entire analysis.
Among the 800 tours analyzed, the most common genre was pop, with 137 tours (representing over 17% of all tours evaluated).
Pop concerts generated nearly $5.3 billion in total ticket sales over the last five years, averaging just over $38.6 million per tour. That makes pop the most lucrative genre in the analysis on both an overall and per-tour basis.
What is the most expensive music genre to see in concert?
Of the 13 genres analyzed, classic rock concerts proved to be the most expensive for fans. The average ticket price for concerts in this genre was $119.14. This was nearly $20 higher than the second most expensive genre, pop, which had an average ticket cost of $100.65. Tickets for the third most expensive genre — Latin music — cost $91.38 on average.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Christian music concerts were the most affordable. Ticket prices for top artists in that genre averaged less than $40. Electronic dance music (EDM) tickets were the next most affordable at $55.05. Those are the only genres with average ticket costs of less than $60.
Which artists had the most expensive tickets in each genre?
No matter which flavor of rock music fans enjoy, they can expect to pay a pretty penny to see top names. For fans of straight-up rock, Metallica came in first with an average ticket price of nearly $230 in 2021. That’s the most expensive ticket price for any tour in the rock genre in the last five years. The Strokes were the alternative rock band with the highest ticket price in the last three years, clocking in at $126.70.
But those hefty price tags pale in comparison to The Boss himself. Tickets to see Bruce Springsteen perform his Springsteen on Broadway tour cost fans $508.93 on average in 2018. That is the most expensive average ticket cost not just in the classic rock category, but for any tour in any genre over the last five years.
In fact, the three most expensive tickets in this entire analysis are all tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway. The 2017 ($496.16), 2018 ($508.93), and 2019 ($506.39) versions of the tour are the only tickets from any tour to cost more than $450 on average.
Only one other genre leader had a tour with average ticket prices of more than $300 — Lady Gaga. Tickets to her 2020 tour cost fans $337.43 on average, beating out Bruno Mars’ 2021 tour ($330.73) by less than $10 per ticket to take the top spot in the pop genre.
Which genre of music is the most lucrative for artists and venues?
Of the 13 genres analyzed, the top touring acts in just five genres generated over one billion dollars in ticket sales from 2017 to 2021. Leading the way was pop music, which produced over $5.2 billion in ticket sales from 137 concerts over the designated time frame.
The only other genres to top the $2 billion mark were classic rock ($3.5 billion) and rock ($2.4 billion). Country and alternative rock round out the top five in overall ticket sales with $1.9 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively.
Of course, raw totals do not tell the whole story, so it’s useful to look at which genres produced the most money on a per tour basis. The top three genres remain the same when looking at things this way, with pop tours generating $38.6 million in ticket sales per tour across 137 tours, followed by classic rock ($35.6 million per tour across 100 tours) and rock ($33.7 million per tour across 72 tours).
From there, however, two new genres find their way to the top five. Interestingly, fourth place belongs to a genre where music is not the main focus (though it often plays a role). That is the “performance” genre, which includes magicians and acrobatic shows in the vein of Cirque du Soleil. The performance genre almost equals rock per tour by generating $33.2 million on average. Rounding out the top five is hip-hop, at $22.5 million per tour.
How to save a few bucks when seeing your favorite artists
No matter which style of music is your favorite, tickets to concerts can be expensive. Still, it is possible to afford these experiences without breaking the bank, especially if you follow these tips:
Earn cash back on concert tickets. Some credit cards offer rewards for entertainment purchases, especially if tickets are purchased through certain online retailers (think Vivid Seats or StubHub). By using one of the best credit cards for concert tickets, you can earn cash back or rewards points with your ticket purchases.
Use your weekends to make money. Consider a weekend side gig at a local venue where you can bartend, serve food, or even set up events. Putting in an extra few hours with a weekend side job could help you earn money to afford tickets to another concert. Besides, you get to listen to concerts and performances while you work.
Pick a card issuer that qualifies for presale tickets. To get tickets for those once-in-a-lifetime shows, presale tickets are a must. Learn how to get presale tickets with your credit card and avoid missing out on that must-see concert.
FinanceBuzz looked up Pollstar data on the number of tickets sold and the average price per ticket for each of the tours the service ranked in their annual Top 200 North American Tours list for 2021, 2020, and 2019, as well as their Top 100 Global Tours lists for 2018 and 2017. We first classified each artist/tour according to their genre of music, then multiplied the average ticket price by the number of tickets sold to find the total ticket sales for each tour. We then added the total ticket sales for tours of the same genre together and divided that by the total number of tickets sold for tours in each genre to find the true average ticket price per genre. Ticket costs and sales figures are accurate to the year each tour took place and were not adjusted for inflation. We excluded from our analysis genres with less than 10 tours represented in the data. As a result, opera, reggae, and jazz were not included in our findings.