I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a spendthrift. I rarely splurge. I refuse to buy anything at full price. But every once in a long while — a very long while, The Hubby claims — I loosen the purse strings for something I want.
It just so happens that, in a happy confluence of time and place, several musicians I love are scheduled to perform nearby. What an opportunity for this abuela to shimmy and shake down the aisle!
But I then peeked at the ticket prices and swooned. Bette Midler’s cheapest ticket runs $168.30, service fees included. Gulp. So much for the wind beneath my wings.
Look, I think Bette’s truly divine. I agree that love is a flower and I have an endless aching need, but … but. For most of us, even those with steady, decent-paying jobs, that’s a lot of moolah to shell out for one night.
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When you have a kid in college and you’re saving for a retirement that is racing toward you at the speed of a bullet train, you must think twice, maybe thrice, about spending profligately. A couple of Benjamins pay for several dental and doctor co-pays. They can buy a lot of groceries. Gas up a few tanks, too. And they would certainly look great in my 401(k).
But am I being too miserly? What will I regret more — missing her show or being that much poorer? What do you think?
Concerts for the pop and rock musicians I grew up with have become out-of-reach for plain folks. So have many professional sports — and I’m not talking the heart-stopping prices for this past weekend’s Super Bowl either. When you factor in unexpected incidentals and what it costs to park, you’re out a few percentage points of your take-home pay. Heaven forbid you should get thirsty in the middle of an event. Bottled water will set you back enough to make you gag in shock.
The spiraling cost of concerts is not new. Tickets have soared by about 400 percent since 1981, more than college tuition and healthcare, and certainly much, much more than the famously stagnant wages of the middle class. Some of the increase can be blamed on consolidation, secondary market scalping and service fees that can add as much as 50 percent to the base ticket price. But artists have also admitted that, with album sales heading ever downward, concerts are their only sure way to make money.
Really? By gouging your fans?
Of course not all national acts will necessarily break the bank. They will only blow your entertainment budget for a couple of months. Last year we went to see James Taylor — yes, yes, I know how my music choices date me but so what? For days I had a spring in my step and a song in my heart. How sweet it is to be loved by you. He put a dent in the wallet but not enough to keep me up at night.
Billy Joel’s cheapest tickets went for just over 30 bucks at his Miami show last month. Jimmy Buffet comes in under $50 bucks for his April date in West Palm Beach and Elton John at just over that for March. Entirely doable, either or both, if I start saving now.
I suppose it could be worse. I could be tempted by the likes of The Eagles (2014 average ticket price of $138.34) or The Rolling Stones ($191.42.)
So much good music, so little money.
Follow Ana on Twitter @AnaVeciana.