Web Extra: Hear an Extended Interview with Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond at the 33rd Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards, June 2002.
Simon & Garfunkel, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, KISS, Aerosmith, Cher -- it seems like an army of 50- and 60-something music acts have abandoned the comfort of their country estates for the rigors of the road.
One thing bringing these seasoned performers back to concert stages is to hear those stadium crowds scream and chant their names one more time. But independent music critic Christian Bordal reports that the money is a big draw, too. Live concert ticket sales are topping $2 billion a year, and the biggest-name acts can pull in more that $1 million a night.
CD sales have been dropping, but there's been a 40 percent increase in concert gross receipts over the past four years. It's not because people are buying more tickets, however -- the number of tickets sold is actually down. The difference is the price. In 1994, the average ticket price was $25, but by 2002 the average was more than $46. The top price for a Simon & Garfunkel ticket is about $250.
Some artists, such as Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond, continue to keep their ticket prices down. But many of the top artists have been raising their prices dramatically. Part of the reason, Diamond told Bordal, is that artists don't want the money to go to scalpers.
"If instead of charging $250 for a front-row seat, they charged $100 for front-row seats, The scalpers would sell those seats for $300," Diamond says. "What the managers and the agents are saying is, either you guys make the money, or the scalpers make the money. So they naturally say, 'We’d rather have the money ourselves.'"