Updated: Jun 25
That iconic and enduring band, The Cure is on a tour of North America right now, and when I saw headlines like Rolling Stone’s “What the Hell Happened With The Cure’s Tickets This Week?” and Music Times’ “Robert Smith Wants Ticketmaster To Explain ‘Weird, Over Priced’ The Cure Concert Tickets” I found myself asking — who can afford tickets? I approached this piece thinking that I would hear stories about how badly people wanted to see The Cure, but all except the upper middle class and higher were priced out of tickets. When I spoke to people and dug a little bit deeper, I found out that wasn’t quite the case.
I put my question about people being priced out of tickets to the r/TheCure subreddit and was quickly (and not very gently) informed that The Cure is very affordable compared to other stadium tours — in my opinion, shockingly so. The lawn tickets at shows are as cheap as $35 and nosebleed seats are as cheap as $60, these prices are unheard of for a show of this size. One Redditor suggested he could have dug the $35 out of his couch cushions and thanked Robert Smith from the bottom of his heart. People on The Cure’s subreddit asked me “How cheap do you expect ticket prices to be?” They quickly piled on to remind me that the band and support staff are not jesters, and they deserve to be paid. They also reminded me that Robert Smith had gone toe to toe with Ticketmaster on Twitter over added fees to tickets and that he prevailed, with some ticketholders receiving refunds for the unacceptable fees. In the end, Robert Smith knows how to give the people what they want — great musical performances at eminently reasonable prices. Clearly, the artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer, I will let you all know.” Online, Sarah Connor said “We’re seeing The Cure on Sunday. Lawn seats were very affordable, and we got some money back after Robert Smith got mad at Ticketmaster.”
This was not the first time I had heard Ticketmaster’s name spoken in a discussion about concert pricing. Stories like “Taylor Swift Fans Seeing Red Over Eras Tour Ticket Prices,” “A MA Father Paid $21,000 for His Daughter to See Taylor Swift After He Didn’t Receive His $1,900 Tickets,” and “Taylor Swift Ticket Prices: Why Some Tickets are Listed at $22,000” all talk about Ticketmaster’s “dynamic pricing model”, or market-based pricing. This allows them as the ticket-selling company to “adjust to market demand in the moment” based on fan (or bot) interest, often resulting in sky-high ticket prices. Fans of many bands find themselves in this situation; Tara said, “I wanted to go see Tool with my husband and even nosebleed seats were like $400 a person. I don’t even pay that a month for my vehicle.” Jolie responded, “I did buy tickets during Fall Out Boy’s presale but am now disappointed in what I paid for my tickets. I paid around $325 each for floor level. I wanted pit tickets, but they were over $1k each during the presale. They are now $200. Dynamic pricing has got to go.”
Even with expensive dynamic pricing, there are still ways to get cheaper ticket prices. Jessica McCoy suggests joining fan clubs and says “I am very lucky at getting last-minute tickets. Join the fan clubs. There are always people who have to cancel [at the] last minute who would rather sell or gift tickets to people in the fan club . . . for local shows I am pretty shameless about going up to people who are reselling tickets and offering them a fraction of the original face value. Recouping $50 is better than burning the ticket. It’s not worth anything after the show starts . . . There are always tickets. Always, always, always.” Some fans however seem to have given up altogether, such as Jennifer Kay.Goodman who says, “Find a video and hook up your tv to a large speaker. Turn the volume up really, really loud. I’ll come over and spill beer on you for only a couple of bucks. Extra if you want the drunken vomit stadium experience, but still cheaper than Ticketmaster.”
According to Bloomberg, concert prices have inflated 10% since pre-pandemic times, with no indication that they will stop increasing. Dynamic pricing structures and scalping have contributed to pricing some people out of attending many fans’ favorite shows. People shouldn’t have to dip into savings accounts and go into credit card debt to be able to attend a live music performance. The Daily Mail says people are reportedly resorting to flying to Europe to attend Beyonce, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen shows because tickets are three times cheaper than in the US. This is outrageous, especially with bands such as The Cure trying to fight to keep ticket prices down. Young fans who don’t remember anything different may be more willing to pay these exorbitant prices, but older fans remember that Eddie Vedder and others have been fighting to keep ticket prices low for decades. Pearl Jam famously lost in court against Ticketmaster in 1994 over $4 in fees on $18 tickets; Pearl Jam just announced a 2023 tour with an all-in ticket pricing structure. It’s great to have the old guard like Vedder and Smith still fighting the good fight on behalf of the fans and not just caving to a predatory pricing scheme that seems to be good for Ticketmaster shareholders and is questionable for the rest of us.
I was lucky enough to get economically priced tickets for The Cure’s show and was able to attend the legendary 30-song performance on night two of their Montreal stop. The performance was so long that I wanted to take a quiet break from all the excitement only a third of the way through, but Robert Smith and co. kept going for two and a half hours. The stadium was packed with fans of all ages, most of them wearing black. The band performed in front of a massive screen that had images displayed that thematically matched the songs that were being played such as a spider web, a rose, the planet Earth, and the moon. They played so many songs that they were able to include songs that have rarely ever been performed live, such as A Thousand Hours. Most people in the stadium stood for the entire length of the second encore with people dancing in the aisles with abandon to classics like Just Like Heaven and Boys Don’t Cry. Robert Smith knows how to give the people what they want—great musical performances at eminently reasonable prices.