Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, May 27, 2005

Concert Ticket Prices
vs. CD prices

Does this make sense? [Quotation from Daniel Gross, of Slate]

Pop stars are charging higher prices because they're realizing less income from sales of CDs and other forms of recorded music.
At first blush, I assumed that either Daniel Gross or Alan Kreuger (whom Gross cites in his article) was incorrect or making some assumptions about non-maximizing behaviour. The latter seemed possible given the questioning of single-price ticketing at rock concerts.

Ticket pricing is an area in which market forces don't function very smoothly, the economists concluded. At a surprising number of concerts, all tickets are sold at the same price. If they did what baseball stadiums and even some Broadway producers do—charge more for the best seats and less for the not-so-good seats—rock stars could capture revenues that usually go to scalpers. And in some instances, this could add up to real money.

My understanding is that fans are reluctant to pay extra for "better" seats at many rock concerts because the fans from the cheap seats all rush the stage anyway. Good seats turn out to be no better than the cheap seats in these instances, and it is not always easy to predict which concerts will experience this.

But let's go back to the original quote. If the producers of these concerts are profit maximizers, wouldn't they raise the prices anyway? Why would it be more profitable to raise concert ticket prices just because CD sales are sagging?

Or has there been a shift in demand such that more people are preferring live concert music and spending less on CDs? The article vaguely implies this might be the case by discussing how it is members of older generations (who are also less likely to rush the stage) who are spending so much more on live concerts these days.

I must admit there were not many young people at the concerts I attended on a recent weekend. And you could just about count on the one hand the number of real teeth among the patrons in the front row at the last Stompin' Tom Connors concert I saw.
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