If Taylor Swift's $200 million-plus grossing tour sounds impressive, and cause for the artist to provide the fans she appreciates with a break in the ticket price, it's important to note that gross and net revenue are altogether different. The cost of putting on a show, from stage production to backup dancers to indoor pyrotechnics and even holograms, has skyrocketed along with the price of concert tickets.
"There is a lot more production that goes into [concert production these days]," Ticket Alternative Bluett says. "Everybody's trying to put on the most elaborate show they can." For Swift, that meant giant inflatable snakes, mega screens, a fountain, fireworks and a plethora of dancers. For Coldplay's A Head Full of Dreams Tour, which grossed $523 million in 2017, a stadium performance called for multiple stages and Xylobands, interactive LED wristbands the band introduced during its Mylo Xyloto Tour.
Behind the show audiences experience is the cost of what goes into making it possible, like bringing in the "steel," the sound and the lighting. Putting on the production requires unseen expenses, such as the cost of getting equipment from city to city and labor to unload the trucks. Shows also have to be promoted and advertised. The price of the venue plays a part too, and for a large concert at a stadium, the total production cost quickly reaches seven figures.
"You're building a $3 million home for a night and tearing it down," says Ross Schilling, artist manager with Vector Management, who has worked with big names like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock and Toto. The cost of creating these ephemeral wonderlands has to get passed on to the consumer via the ticket price.