Got Tickets to a Must-See Concert? Here’s Why You Paid So Much

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With the economy being the way it is, it’s difficult to justify the purchase of tickets at $200 a pop for good seats at a concert that doesn’t even take place until next year. But because NewsFeed loves R&B songstress Sade to a point somewhere beyond fandom, and possibly to obsession, it makes it more than worth it to jump on the bandwagon to get tickets for her 2011 “Soldier of Love” tour.

Come on, the lady wrote the lyric: “If you were mine, I wouldn’t want to go to heaven.” Gasp and swoon.

Anyway, such an exorbitant ticket price leaves the curiosity over what exactly you’re paying for when you buy concert tickets, which can make more money for artists than album sales in some cases. According to Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert industry trade publication Pollstar, it depends on the artist and the cost can vary significantly¬† from one show to another. (See a video of TIME’s picks for the best concert films.)

“In general, most of that money goes to the artist,” he explained. But assuming that 60% is taken in by the performer, the artist has to pay their own crew and staff. “Then there’s transportation expenses, housing, then depending on the size of the tour there are buses, trucks, equipment, then there are agent and manager commissions.”

From there, Bongiovanni said, the 30 or 40% left goes to staging the shows locally and that means renting venues like the Izod Center in East Rutherford N.J.; O2 Arena in London or the Staples Center in Los Angeles, then paying for advertising, security, catering, the actual cost of producing the show, and paying the promoter — who actually gets a relatively small percent of the gross. “From the artists’ standpoint, the more shows they work, the more shows they can amortize that cost over.”

And this doesn’t even include the booking, shipping, printing and other fees that are tacked on to the original price of the ticket, which can run as much as $70.

This means artists have to sell tickets to put people in arena seats. Bongiovanni said rockers AC/DC has the record for selling the most concert tickets. But the Rolling Stones, who have been giving retirement tours for nearly 20 years have the all time gross at $162 million for their 2005 “A Bigger Bang” tour. (See photos of Michael Jackson’s concert film This Is It.)

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