Friday, 31 January 2014

24 Hour Blogathon : The True Cost Of Gig Going - Part 1

As part of our 24 hour blogathon we're launching a new series that we'll be posting once a month at the end of every month throughout 2014. Here's Part 1 of our report into the true cost of gig going.

The widely held view in 2014 is that artists aren’t making much money from recorded music and that live performance is where income can still be earned. Yet alongside this view is another – that many gigs are too expensive; with rising ticket prices, booking fees (which has recently been the subject of further criticism, this time from consumer group Which?) , travel costs, merchandise and over-priced drinks in venues, the full cost of attending a gig or a festival is becoming too expensive.

Here at Breaking More Waves we’re pretty big live music fans. Over the years we’ve probably attended over 1,000 gigs and festivals and probably seen in the region of 3,000 bands and artists play live. We’ve spent a huge quantity of money on our passion and continue to do so; pretty much every spare penny we have goes on live music. We’ve never understood why people are happy to go down the pub on a Friday night and spend £20 quid upwards on drinkS but think that spending £10 on a ticket to see three bands in a relatively small venue is too expensive.

But how much does it really cost to go and see a band? By the time you’ve added in all the extras, is it actually a very expensive form of entertainment?

To answer this question, this year Breaking More Waves will be rolling out a spreadsheet and recording all the gigs we attend and the total costs. We’ll be reporting on exactly how much we spend, what proportion of our spend is on the ticket and how much the ‘on-costs’ are at regular intervals.

Living in the south coast city of Portsmouth we’re lucky to have a variety of musical venues on our doorstep, so in theory transport costs should be negligible as all of the places where we can see live music are within walking distance. Yet many of the bands booked to play in Portsmouth don’t fit our musical tastes;  there’s a large number of tribute bands and electronic music (one of our core loves) seems to be largely ignored. We therefore find ourselves making regular trips elsewhere to cities that seem to be musically more like-minded to Breaking More Waves. Over the last few years, as touring for small bands becomes ever more expensive we’ve also noted that often a UK tour will only hit the biggest of cities; London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Glasgow live music fans count yourselves lucky. For the rest of us, this means more travel, more cost and therefore ultimately less money to spend on tickets. An ever decreasing circle is created, with only the fuel companies benefitting.

Some notes to our report:
  • In recording the cost of the ticket, we will be including the price of the booking fee. Where more than 1 ticket is booked the fee will be divided by the number of tickets.
  • Wherever possible we’ve tried to use the cheapest form of transport possible, but this isn’t always practical. For example where travelling directly from work to a venue some distance away we might have to use the quickest rather than cheapest form of transport to get to the gig on time and home again. Where using public transport we will where possible try to advance book or use economy packages such as Megatrain to get the best price. Where driving we have only included the cost of petrol, not wear and tear or depreciation of the vehicle.

  • No tickets will be purchased through secondary ticket agencies. All tickets will be face value.

  • For some shows that are some distance from our home we will stay over after the show. Where we cannot stay at a friend or relatives house or similar we will use hotels. The cost of hotels will be reported separately as sometimes the reason for staying in the hotel will not just be for the gig – we may be holidaying in the city or town the next day and so the cost of the overnight stay cannot be fully attributed to the gig.

And so to the first report.

January Report

Commentary : January tends to be a relatively quiet month on the live music front.

In total we attended 6 live shows. 4 in London, 1 in Brighton and 1 in Southampton

At the 6 shows, including support acts we saw 22 acts (1 of whom – Fickle Friends we saw twice)

1 of the gigs was a free show.

All of the shows were in relatively small venues ranging from capacities of 120 – 350

Total Money Spent £353.40

Tickets (inc Booking Fees) £62.95

Transport £96.30

Consumables at Gig (drinks etc) £35.50

Merchandise £0

Accommodation £158.65

% Spend on tickets as a total percentage of spend 17.8%

Average total cost / band £16

In January the average total cost of seeing 1 band play a (typically) half hour set of 8 songs was about the same as what it would cost to go to the cinema (including all associated costs)

This blog post is one of a series published as part of Breaking More Waves non-stop 24 hour Blogathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK. If you have read it and enjoyed the content we’d really appreciate it if you would donate £2 to Cancer Research using the button below.

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