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The Taylor Swift Ticket Drama Shows a Trend in Young People’s Concert Experiences

Young people are passionate about music—that much we all know—but do they feel strongly enough about their favorite artist to pay today’s ticket prices? 

TL;DR

  • The vast majority of young people say concert tickets are too expensive—and the drama over Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour was a breaking point
  • A third of Gen Z and Millennials went to a concert last year, and those who did made the absolute most of it
  • Virtual concerts remain a popular option for young people even as in-person ones become the norm again

Gen Z and Millennials are experiencing an entirely different concert culture than the gens before them; seeing a popular artist has become an accessibility battle, whether because of high prices or simply the competition to secure a seat. It took the most sought-after Taylor Swift tour yet to land TicketMaster in a trial with the federal government for their accused monopoly over tickets in their partnership with Live Nation. (Which is, of course, getting meme-ified on TikTok.) The dramatic prices for the “Eras Tour,” paired with the astronomical volume (read: millions) of people trying to buy them at once, managed to turn young people into monopoly-breakers. They’ve deemed it unfair for one company to determine whether or not they are able to see their favorite artists and bands, and they think it’s now time for change.  

The sheer scale of concert content and the drama of the Eras Tour does, however, call into question how many young people are really shelling out the money to go to these shows. While social media may make it seem like all of them, YPulse’s Music report collects data on exactly how many 13-39-year-olds have really been going to concerts as of late, and how they’re feeling about rising prices. These three stats tell you all you need to know about young people’s attitudes toward concerts: 

33% of 13-39-year-olds have been to a concert in the last year

One third of Gen Z and Millennials tell YPulse they have been to a concert or music festival in the last year. 2022 marked a return to concertgoing, according to YPulse data. In 2019, 32% of young people reported that they had been to a concert in the last year, a number that plummeted to 17% in 2020 and 15% in 2021—years when COVID fears had people staying home and artists cancelling shows. But as of July 2022, 40% of 13-39-year-olds said they’re comfortable going to concerts in-person again, and our Music survey shows that 33% reported they did so in the last year—a return to pre-COVID numbers. 

But given how much it can now take to even attend a concert, they’re also more than just a night to see their favorite band or artist. They’ve become all-out events for young people and a chance for fandoms to unite, bond, and show off for each other. These events are worthy of new outfits to match the artists’ look, camping outside venues for front row views, and of course, an opportunity to make content for their feed. These are scarcely the first generations to obsess over music artists and clamor to get concert tickets, but rarity of it all has driven concerts into a bigger experience than ever—some might even consider shows once in a lifetime opportunities after all is said and done. 

It’s these fans who account for the mass amount of concert content on social media; on TikTok (Gen Z’s favorite social media platform) the #Concerts has 2.2B views, showing views from every artist they love and more content about their passion for live music in general. Other tags, like #ConcertOutfit have over 300M views just to show what they’re wearing for high-ticket shows—with many making their own merch for the big night. The prodigal Eras tour itself has the hashtag #ErasTour racking up 772M views of its own—proof of how young people on social media are driving many top artists’ success in concert. 

 

81% of 13-39-year-olds agree concert tickets are too expensive

Young consumers certainly are interested in going to concerts; YPulse data shows 66% of young people agree they’d rather spend their money on experiences over material items. But even if they want to be there, they’re going to be paying a high price for many of their favorite artists. And now, the vast majority (81%) of young people agree that concert tickets are simply too expensive. 

CNBC reports that concert ticket prices are up 17.8% from 2019, and halfway through 2022, the average ticket cost a whopping $108. According to prices from SeatGeek and ticketiQ, top artists like Bad Bunny and Taylor Swift will run fans anywhere from $200-$2K for a single ticket. The New York Times even reports that some Gen Z made the move to open their first credit card account in order to afford their Eras tickets—meaning that while the prices are unimaginable to some, to others they are a hurdle they’re willing to do anything to surpass in order to see their favorite artist.  

But part of this dramatic rise in prices has reportedly been driven by systems like TicketMaster’s dynamic pricing model, where more desirable tickets are priced based on the level of demand: more fans, more money. Not all the tickets for a show are priced in this way, though, so a majority of tickets remain their face value price that typically fall in the non-exorbitant category. Still, fans want the best ones at a fair price, too. And for those who can’t get the tickets they’re aiming for, they’ll likely be turning to online access instead… 

61% of 13-39-year-olds agree they're interested in watching live-streamed concerts or festivals they can't attend in person

For many young people, a virtual concert experience is just as intriguing as a real life show now. Or, at least, a valid substitute for the real thing if they can’t go in-person. COVID certainly had an impact on this: as young people embraced alternative concert experiences during their quarantines, they came out of them with a lasting appreciation for its ease. When they can’t make it in-person, still don’t feel safe in large crowds, or simply can’t afford the IRL ticket, the majority (61%) are interested in watching a stream of the show.  

YPulse data also shows that Gen Z and Millennials are using the metaverse as a concert space; while certainly different from the livestreams that the majority show interest in, virtual world concerts are a more immersive version of the at-home experience. Our data shows that 29% of young people say they have attended a concert in a virtual world, and another 44% say they would be interested in attending one. Last year, brands saw virtual world concerts with (avatars of) real life performers attract millions of users. So, as the metaverse grows in mainstream popularity and more brands invest in it, more-than-livestream virtual concerts could continue to grow into a sought-after experience.