Feature: The 1975 are making arenas affordable again

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The 1975 are making arenas affordable again

The most surprising thing about The 1975’s tour announcement this week was the price but not for reasons you might think. Philip Giouras takes a look at the rising price of concerts and the few major artists that are making a stand.

When The 1975 announced their upcoming 2019 tour this week I wasn’t surprised to see another trip around the UK’s arenas. Now with two acclaimed albums released and another two due in the next year alone, not to mention their recent status upgrade to festival headliner I was expecting a significant jump in price to reflect this. So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw tickets will sell for the incredibly low price bracket of £20 - £35.

Even if you’re not a fan of the indie pop group, any concert goer should at least admire the bold statement of a still-rising arena band setting a competitive and affordable price for a show. It’s a precedent that needs to be followed, one that puts fans first and touts second. So let’s look into the potential reasons behind such low pricing.

Firstly, one potential reason could be to combat touts. By putting multiple dates of a tour on, all at affordable prices, you’re stopping fans from being priced out. This tactic was used by Jay-Z back on his 4:44 tour across America in which he offered seats at the highest level of his arena tour for a mere $4. He even brought the idea to our shores for the OTRII tour with his wife Beyoncé in which the whole back segment of the Olympic Stadium was sold at £25 a ticket! for a three hour show it’s incredible value for money, a great stage set-up and the largest screens in concert history also meant that not a single attendee felt alienated from the gig. 

The other reason and most likely for the band would be the principle of putting their fans first. There’s a strong fandom and sense of community surrounding The 1975 and what could be considered as the gift of giving back to them by placing the tickets at such a modest value. Make no mistake, bands and artists in similar positions regularly charge between £40 - £80 for sets that could range as short as an hour to as long as two. Only last year my experience of Lana Del Rey at Brixton was tinged by a ludicrous £60 regular ticket for a less than 60 minute performance. High prices and short show times can definitely leave a bitter aftertaste.

A lot of ‘big’ acts claim to put their fans first but still largely price out casual fans whilst ripping off the most loyal. To put this in context, Ed Sheeran has in quite a short period of time found himself one of the largest artists in the world. His stage set-up surprisingly doesn’t reflect this, in essence, he’s still just one man, on his own up on large stadium stages with just a guitar to keep him company. The price to put on this show would be relatively cheap compared to bands which have to split profits, include additional performers and dancers etc. 

This, however, hasn’t stopped him for putting his tickets up incredibly high prices, despite his claims of “wanting to make his shows affordable”. It’s not always been like this. Back when second album ‘X’ dominated the charts and the world he set a new standard for Australian concerts when he set every seat at $99 AUD, which in context is around £50 a ticket. He even did press around this, telling local news “I didn’t want people to pay $170 and get front row tickets and a meet and greet. I hate that s**t . The moment you allow a kid with a rich father to have more things than a kid with a poor father I think that’s s**t. It’s great that $99 is affordable, but I wanted it to be the same price for everyone.” This attitude didn’t last when third record ‘Divide’ hit UK shores with his recent 2018 Stadium tour averaging ticket prices at £88 for standing and £65 for seats.

Of course, you could argue superstars should warrant superstar prices for tickets, and I can’t disagree. I’m not saying that Ed Sheeran should start pedalling £25 tickets, but what harm would offering an actual cheap and affordable section at concerts do to him. The Carters made it work, even The Rolling Stones did when they launched a ‘lucky dip’ scheme in which for just £30 you could end up in a regular seat or a side of stage spot. 

In both these instances people that wanted to pay the more expensive bracket did, whilst the band still offered a large amount of cheaper options for people that just wanted to be part of the experience, something the likes of not just Ed but Taylor Swift, U2 and other heavyweights could learn from. In terms of arena bands, I can only hope that The 1975’s generous prices are only the start of bringing live shows back down to earth. Let 2018 be the start of this brilliant new trend, not the end of it.

THE 1975 UK 2019 TOUR DATES:

JAN 9TH Belfast SSE Arena 
JAN 10TH Dublin 3Arena 
JAN 12TH Glasgow SSE Hydro 
JAN 14TH Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
JAN 16TH Brighton The Centre 
JAN 18TH London The O2 
JAN 21ST Exeter Westpoint 
JAN 23rd Birmingham Arena 
JAN 24TH Manchester Arena 
JAN 25TH Sheffield FlyDSA Arena

Tickets on sale Friday 21st September from here.