good 4 us: Olivia Rodrigo will sell a limited number of $20 tickets to her upcoming GUTS Tour, as the latest pop star taking a stand against skyrocketing ticket prices on official and resale platforms. But concertgoers might have deja vu, since it’s not clear how many of these cheap tickets will actually be made available.
Rodrigo and Live Nation announced the “Silver Star” ticket program in a press release today. The “drivers license” singer will make “a limited number of $20 plus taxes and fees (or the local currency equivalent) tickets available at a later date” after initial ticket sales, according to the release. “Olivia is launching this program to make it as easy and affordable as possible for her fans to make it out to her shows,” it said.
However, Live Nation did not specify how many Silver Star tickets will be available. Considering tickets to Rodrigo’s Sour Tour sold out within minutes in 2021 and were listed on resale websites for upwards of $9,000, the rush for Silver Star tickets could be just as chaotic. Also, the very same Live Nation Entertainment came under scrutiny last year after it canceled general ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour following a series of presale issues that left the famously passionate “Swifties” outraged, highlighting the monopolistic control its Ticketmaster platform holds over the ticketing market.
More recently, Live Nation’s stranglehold over ticket sales was revealed by the first North American tour since 2016 from the legendary band The Cure, who first emerged in the aftermath of the punk movement of the late 1970s and became a precursor, if not the inventor, of the entire emo genre. The band’s outspoken and fan-friendly frontman Robert Smith intentionally priced tickets as low as $20—and said on X in March that he was “sickened” by the hidden fees that Ticketmaster piled on afterward. Ticketmaster partially retreated after Smith’s public campaigning, refunding buyers between $5 and $10 per ticket, but the final prices were still a far cry from Smith’s preference.
Silver Star Tickets must be purchased in pairs with a limit of two per purchase, according to the press release. Seats will be located next to each other and the seat locations will be revealed the day of show when picked up at the venue box office.
Rodrigo also announced U.S. and Europe dates for her first arena tour today—she will perform at venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden, Los Angeles’ Kia Forum, and London’s The O2. Standard tickets to the GUTS Tour will range from $49.50 to $199.50, plus taxes and applicable fees.
The Grammy winner, who released her sophomore album this week, is the latest high-profile addition to a growing class of musicians working to alleviate rising ticket prices.
(I Can’t Get No) Tickets
British rockers The Rolling Stones were early to the cheap, randomized ticket format. For their ON FIRE tour in 2014, Mick Jagger and co. introduced “Lucky Dip” tickets, which cost $29.50 each. To prevent scalping, fans were required to bring a photo ID and the credit card used for their purchase to pick up their tickets.
More recently, Coldplay introduced a similar $20 ticket program in May 2022. Dubbed “Infinity Tickets,” limited $20 tickets were made available for the North American, Latin American, and European legs of their Music of the Spheres Tour in 2022.
Fans had to sign up via email to be notified when Infinity Tickets would be available. Their seats, however, were dictated by a roll of the dice. “I did the Sunday show and got section 443 which was an awful section way up on the back corner of the stage,” a Coldplay fan from New Jersey wrote on Reddit in 2022. “Lucked out and got floor seats!” another fan posted about a show in Atlanta.
Coldplay announced in September that Infinity Tickets will be available for their upcoming shows in North America, Asia, and Australia. The band, who have already pulled off two of the highest-grossing tours of all time, is proving that major artists have some degree of agency in keeping ticket prices low, and that it’s possible to do so consistently.
In 2010, events promoter Live Nation merged with ticketing platform Ticketmaster, creating Live Nation Entertainment, “a behemoth with a wingspan covering artist management, concert promotion, venue management, and primary ticketing,” according to the American Antitrust Institute.
As a result of the sky-high fees and resale culture generated by Ticketmaster’s status as the sole major ticketing platform, some diehard Swifties paid more than 70 times face value to see the “Anti-Hero” singer in person.
The outrage prompted Congressional hearings and bills in state legislatures to better protect consumers, but ten months on, not much legislative progress has been made. In June, President Biden announced that Ticketmaster had agreed to disclose the total price of tickets upfront—but high prices and fees would remain unchanged.
Rodrigo and Coldplay are among the artists taking ticket accessibility into consideration—but both still use Ticketmaster as their ticket retailer, proving the inevitability of Live Nation in the music industry.
Rodrigo’s Silver Star Tickets and Coldplay’s Infinity Tickets, with their dreamy names, offer a glimpse of a simpler time: when tickets were sold by a range of retailers, and fans could see their favorite artist without sitting in a virtual line for hours or breaking the bank. As Rodrigo would say, it’s brutal out here.