What's Saving the Music Business?

The Internet threatened to destroy the music business. But rising income from live performances, merchandise, and sponsored music on TV "has come to counterbalance losses from declining CD sales," according to the Economist.

It is not that more people are going to concerts. Rather, they are paying more to get in. In 1996 a ticket to one of America's top 100 concert tours cost $25.81, according to Pollstar, a research firm that tracks the market. If prices had increased in line with inflation, the average ticket would have cost $35.30 last year. In fact it cost $62.57. Well-known acts charge much more. The worldwide average ticket price to see Madonna last year was $114. For Simon & Garfunkel it was an eye-watering $169. Leading musicians have also, by roundabout means, seized a larger share of the mysterious "service" charges that are often tacked onto tickets.

Cool article, and great point! But how can you write about ticket inflation without using the words "monopolistic" and "Ticketmaster"? It's easy to command high ticket prices when you're a conglomerate controlling more than 80 percent of the market for live-music concerts.

The graying of the rock audience is helping: The top three American touring acts last year were U2 (average audience age: 49), Bruce Springsteen (61) and a double bill of Billy Joel (61) and Elton John (63).

For the record, I saw that Joel-John concert. My friend's parents (both affluent 50-somethings) bought my ticket. Ticketmaster sold it to them for more than $100.