On average, going to a concert in Los Angeles will cost you 75% more than attending the same concert in Grand Rapids, MI.
Have you ever splurged on concert tickets to see your favorite singer perform live only to find out that your friend who lives across the country paid a lot less for the same seats in their hometown? It might sound unfair but it’s actually something that happens all the time.
In fact, ticket prices for a concert by the same artist within the same tour could differ immensely from city to city due to various factors such as venue fees, accommodation costs, purchasing power of the region, and public interest.
Curious to know exactly how ticket costs shift from place to place, we analyzed the price points for a number of large-scale arena tours that took place in 2017, as well as some that are scheduled to occur in 2018, including tours by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, and Kendrick Lamar. As a result, we discovered that, on average, you can save up to 75% by going to a concert in a smaller town instead of a big metropolitan area. Take a look:
The amounts quoted in the graphic above show how much, on average, you’d have to spend on a top-tier general admission concert ticket in each city if a ticket for the same concert costs $100 in New York. In other words, if a concert ticket in the New York area is $100, you will be charged around $127 for the same show in Los Angeles and around $86 in Detroit.
As it turns out, the cities where you’ll have to shell out the most of your hard-earned dollars are Los Angeles and Las Vegas. That’s not a surprise given that these are two of the biggest entertainment centers in the world. People travel there for the very purpose of catching a great show, so it makes sense that artists are able to demand higher prices.
On the other hand, if you live in or near Grand Rapids, Buffalo, New Orleans, Indianapolis or Little Rock, you’re getting quite the deal as these are the places where concert tickets tend to be the cheapest in the country. In fact, going to a concert in LA or Vegas could cost you up to 75% more than attending the same concert in any of those five towns.
For example, a top-tier ticket for Katy Perry’s Witness tour concert in LA costs $200.50, while the same type of ticket for her show in Grand Rapids would set you back only $128. Similarly, while tickets to Janet Jackson’s show at the Hollywood Bowl go for $275.95, you can get the same tier ticket for just $110 in Little Rock, AR.
What does come as a surprise is New York’s position at #7. Despite its reputation as one of the most expensive cities in the world, NYC came behind smaller cities like Houston, San Diego and Washington, DC. On top of that, New Yorkers can enjoy an even cheaper alternative that is just a 20-minute transit train ride away. We’re talking about Newark, NJ where the Prudential Center hosts many of the same concerts held in the Big Apple but, oftentimes, at a lower price.
The situation is also very interesting in Texas where Houston and San Antonio are just a three-hour drive from each other but that’s enough to create a significant pricing discrepancy. If you live anywhere between the two cities and are debating which one to choose for a concert, you should opt for San Antonio as you can expect to pay around 30% less for that ticket.
Of course, not all tours follow the same pricing patterns. In fact, some artists tend to charge the same amount regardless of location. For example, for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s ongoing Soul2Soul tour, top-tier tickets come with a price tag of $119.50 for the majority of stops. However, tickets for their shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and at Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun Arena still cost more than the rest of the concerts in the tour.
Concert Ticket Prices by Region
Connecticut’s Uncasville tops the chart for the most expensive concert destination in the Northeast because of the high price points for shows held at the fancy Mohegan Sun Arena.
If you live in Rhode Island or in central Connecticut, though, you’re better off taking a bus or train to Boston or New York – that way you can go to the concert for cheaper AND treat yourself to a fun getaway in some of America’s most exciting cities.
|4.||Des Moines, IA||$86.90|
|6.||St. Louis, MO||$85.79|
|10.||Kansas City, MO||$80.96|
|14.||Grand Rapids, MI||$73.09|
Tickets in the Midwest range widely across the region with Chicago asking for the highest price. However, if you take a two-hour train ride from Chicago to Grand Rapids, MI, you can save around 30% and have a bigger chance of scoring better seats.
The same applies if you live between Grand Rapids and Detroit and you’re debating where to go see your favorite performer. The choice is clear – take a bus or train to Grand Rapids and save some cash to spend on an after-party with your friends.
As it turns out, NOLA is not just a top party destination, it’s also the place where you can score the cheapest concert tickets in the Southeast.
Unfortunately, New Orleans is pretty far from any of the other cities in the region to make it worth the trip if you don’t live close-by. However, if you’re headed down to The Big Easy anyway, you might as well take advantage of the bargain.
As we mentioned above, if you have the chance to travel anywhere in Texas for a concert, make San Antonio your destination to save 30% on concert tickets.
The other bargain locations for concert-goers in the Southwest are Phoenix and Tulsa, both of which yield pretty much the same ticket prices.
The West Coast
Overall chart topper LA came in at #1 on the West Coast, followed by nearby city San Diego. While San Francisco is notorious for its extremely high rents and premium standard of living, it’s still a better bargain to see your favorite band perform live in the Bay Area compared to Southern California.
With just two cities representing it in our study, the Northwest is pretty consistent when it comes to concert ticket costs. While Portland clearly has the cheapest prices, they’re still pretty close to what you would pay for the same concert in Seattle.
Wherever you are in the continental United States, you can easily book a bus or train trip on Wanderu.com or the free Wanderu app. That way, you can take advantage of the concert deals in a nearby town and score a cheaper seat closer to the stage. After all, if you don’t get good photos & videos of your concert-going experience for Snapchat or Instagram, were you really there?
- We analyzed the ticket prices of 13 tours that were selected using the following criteria:
- All or most of the concerts took place in 2017 or are scheduled to occur in 2018.
- All of the concerts occurred or are scheduled to take place at large-scale arenas and/or stadiums with a capacity of 10,000+ visitors.
- All of the concerts had to be headlined only by the artist(s) or band leading the entire tour. Concerts that were part of music festivals or other multi-artist events were not taken into consideration.
- Pricing from the following tours was featured in this report:
- Bruno Mars – 24K Magic World Tour
- Ed Sheeran – ÷ Tour
- Imagine Dragons – Evolve World Tour
- Janet Jackson – State of the World Tour
- Katy Perry – Witness: The Tour
- Kendrick Lamar – The Damn Tour
- The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful World Tour
- Lady Gaga – Joanne World Tour
- Lorde – Melodrama World Tour
- Shakira – El Dorado World Tour
- Shania Twain – Shania Now Tour
- Tim McGraw & Faith Hill – Soul2Soul: The World Tour
- The Weeknd – Starboy: Legend of the Fall Tour
- We used Ticketmaster & information provided by concert venues around the U.S. to collect pricing data for every single concert in the 13 tours we analyzed.
- For the purposes of the study, we only looked at the price of top-tier general admission tickets, a.k.a. the highest-price general admission tickets available. Pre-sale special offers and premium fan packages were not taken into consideration.
- We analyzed tickets prices to determine pricing trend across different regions and examined how said trends varied across different venues and artists. Finally, we normalized the prices for every single concert across all performers based on the ticket price for their shows in New York City. We used NYC as a benchmark because all featured artists had at least one planned performance there.
- For some of the cities featured in the report, pricing information includes data from concerts in their respective metropolitan areas.
- Cities where only two or less of the analyzed tours had a stop were omitted.
You are welcome to use the information and graphics on this page, crediting Wanderu. If you do so, please link back to this page, so that music lovers around the country can see all the data and find out how we came up with the ranking.