Hands up!: the robbery of the great concerts and festivals or how neoliberalism operates in all its splendor

We have gotten used to it: the prices of concert tickets for the most anticipated musicians are skyrocketing. Also some festivals. The prices are exorbitant. The last case has been Madonna’s tourannounced this Tuesday, in which tickets range between 46 euros for the cheapest and 340 euros for the most expensive, not counting all the exclusive passes created for the occasion: Immaculate Vip Pass for 1020 euros, Iconic Vip Pass for 680 euros, Pass You Can Dance Premium for 510 or Let’s party pass for 350 euros.

It seems a joke, but it is not. Those prices and those “exclusive pass” names are as true as they are. Elon Musk has bought Twitter like someone who buys a new car and plans to fire 75% of the workforce o Shakira is dispatched at ease against Piqué while lining up and He does not pay the million that he owes to the Treasury. This live music prank is serious.

Live music has become a feast for speculation, thanks to playing on fan desire. The examples are so many that they do not fit in one article. Just take a look at some of the recently announced tours: the cheapest ticket to see Rod Stewart is 86 euros, Arctic Monkeys is 93.50 euros, Coldplay’s track is 107.50 euros… and so on with Metallica. , Maroon 5, Harry Styles, The Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen. These are the cheapest tickets. Because the faces easily exceed 300 euros.

In fact, Springsteen was the focus of controversy this past summer because tickets for his North American tour ranged from $200 to $5,000. due to an algorithm that changes the amount according to demand. His staunch supporters considered the American working-class hero to have forgotten his principles. Springsteen was silent.

Bruce Springsteen, during a performance in New York, last year.
Bruce Springsteen, during a performance in New York, last year.Getty Images

Some promoters have pointed out that rampant inflation is also affecting live music. If the shopping cart goes up, so do concert tickets. However, the disproportion of entries is tremendous, unjustified. Inflation cannot be the only answer.

Since live music was articulated as a business and consolidated as its own industry, the law of supply and demand has always operated at concerts and festivals. However, the exit from the pandemic has been like the arrival of bandits in a town in the old West, showing that coming out better was a bloody bad joke. The bandits have arrived armed to the teeth and want to fleece the public. They want to leave the people governed by their own laws. What are these laws? The laws of economic abuse.

The macro-concerts and the big festivals have been operating under a prism of savage capitalism for several years now. In fact, this week it was revealed that The Music Republic, the producer of FIB and Arenal Sound, is already part of Superstruct Entertainment, a platform based in the United Kingdom dedicated to live entertainment and which organizes more than 70 festivals in Europe. and Australia. In 2018, Superstruct Entertainment acquired a significant part of Sónar. One more step to see how investment funds have already made their way into the Spanish festival circuit. Not long ago, Primavera Sound sold 29% of its shares to the US fund The Yucaipa Companies. These operations take place in a very competitive environment, where they fight against the powerful hegemony of Live Nation, the largest promoter in the world, behind Mad Cool, Dcode or Andalucía Big Fest among other festivals. It should not be forgotten that Live Nation is in the eye of the hurricane for its practices in the sale of tickets with Ticketmastercompany with which it merged.

An image of the Benicassim International Festival 2019.
An image of the Benicassim International Festival 2019.Getty Images.

In this wild West where the only law is money, tickets are divided into spaces and they are given very illustrative names: gold tickets, platinum tickets, deluxe tickets, vip tickets, diamond tickets… The live music business is a perfect laboratory for the application of abusive capitalist formulas to the point that the authorities have had to force festivals to offer free water. The promoters may want to recover what they lost for the two years of losses due to the pandemic, but this path already seems untenable for the public.

All of this is happening in an environment where wages have stagnated. Purchasing power has decreased. As pointed out last Sunday in a report by Sergio C. Fanjul entitled We don’t make it to the end of the month. The middle class was not thispublished in the supplement Ideas, in society we are going to a greater concentration of wealth in a smaller number of hands, where the richest 10% get 34.6% of income from work. The same happens in music. Some concerts and festivals are increasingly a territory only suitable for the richest. What was always said about the opera or classical music concerts in royal theaters or national auditoriums has long since jumped to the pavilions and concert halls. And the worst thing is that it extends to affect not only the stars but the business itself. Pop music (popular) turned into music for the rich in an increasingly unequal society, where the middle class no longer exists.

return to reporting We don’t make it to the end of the month. The middle class was not this, when it is said: “We settle for the shine of cheap products rather than the provision of fundamental public services by the State”. The same happens with our leisure. We have seen it with football and this past World Cup in Qatar: Money buys the king of sports, already handed over to capital for decades, and corrupts it to the point of turning it into an abusive and speculative business. And now we are seeing it live with live music. We settle for the brilliance of pop, rock or reggaeton stars rather than common sense.

Maybe it’s time to stand up. Strike tickets. Concerts and festivals strike. And why not also do a strike by musical stars, silent accomplices of this abuse.

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Hands up!: the robbery of the great concerts and festivals or how neoliberalism operates in all its splendor