A fan records images on a cell phone as DJ/producer...

A fan records images on a cell phone as DJ/producer Illenium performs during his three-set show "Trilogy," at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.  Credit: Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Alexandria Migliozzi is a hard-core Harry Styles fan. The 24-year-old from Oakdale went to see the British pop star six times during his 15 sold-out show run at Madison Square Garden last year, paying $650 per ticket, face value.

“I prioritize concerts in my life,” she says. “I don’t spend a lot of money on other things. I have a really old car, I don’t buy new clothes or get my hair or nails done.”

Meanwhile Scott Karp, 57, of Plainview recently caught Stevie Nicks at the Garden with his wife, Pamela. The couple paid $700 for a pair of tickets, which they purchased on Ticketmaster’s website the day seats went on sale.

“She hadn’t toured in years so I was willing to spend that kind of money,” he says. “Stevie is getting up there in age. We never got to see Tom Petty before he passed and we regret that.”

In a post-pandemic world, the concert scene has been significantly altered. There are more tours than ever, costs are through the roof, audience behavior has worsened and demand for tickets is high. But, after a year and a half of concerts being paused due to COVID, they have come back in a massive way, propelled by this year's twin powerhouses of Taylor Swift's “Eras Tour” (the first tour to cross the billion-dollar mark, according to Pollstar) and Beyoncé's “Renaissance World Tour.”

“Music is what people use to feel good and helps connect them. When we lost the opportunity to share in the love of the same artist with a bunch of different people, it was greatly missed,” says Michele Rizzo-Berg, executive director of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. “I’ve seen firsthand what these shows do for people. You can’t get that experience sitting on your couch at home.”

Soaring concert ticket prices

The classic lineup of Blink-182 reunited this year to go on tour, and Nick Nocella couldn’t be more delighted. Even though the 25-year-old Wantagh resident saw the band at Madison Square Garden and UBS Arena in Elmont during the spring, he just paid $530 for a ticket to watch the California pop-punk trio headline Citi Field in July.

“It’s no secret that tickets are getting more expensive, and it is frustrating. But you never know how much longer these artists are going to tour,” says Nocella. “I figure I have my whole life to make the money back. I want to be there!”

Laura Fain of Islip wasn’t about to miss Billy Joel’s final residency performance this July at MSG. She was excited to score 15th-row tickets for herself, her husband and daughter at $300 apiece.

“That’s a lot of money to throw on a credit card. But to be at his last show of his Garden residency, you can’t put a price on that,” says Fain, 42. “We don’t go to Aruba on vacation, but we go to concerts frequently. It’s our lifestyle.”

Why ticket prices are rising

Tanya Becker, 53, of Deer Park, right, with Randi Jaffe...

Tanya Becker, 53, of Deer Park, right, with Randi Jaffe for a Matchbox Twenty concert at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in 2023. "I don’t think ticket prices need to be what they are. The prices are keeping people out," Becker said. Credit: Janet Walsh

What is causing ticket prices to surge to such heights? According to local concert promoter Jim Faith (Great South Bay Music Festival, The Space at Westbury), it’s a combination of factors.

“Most ticket prices are based on how much you have to pay for the acts, and artists' fees have almost doubled since the pandemic. People that were $100,000 last year are $200,000 this year,” Faith says. “As soon as the pandemic was over, everybody ran out to concerts after a year and a half of not going anywhere. Of course, the artists suffered during that time because they didn’t make any money and in some cases lost a lot of money due to cancellations of scheduled shows.”

Another issue is that in 2023 most people are streaming music and as a result album sales have plummeted.

“Nobody buys music anymore. Spotify pays artists less than a cent for every song that is streamed,” says avid concertgoer Tom Taubes, 55, of Jericho. “Since bands don’t have that revenue coming in from album sales, the only way they make money is on the road, whether it’s selling a $50 T-shirt or a $200 ticket.”

But not all fans are buying. In fact, some are getting turned off at the soaring ticket prices.

James Soriano, 59, of Uniondale with Laurie Raimo at Great...

James Soriano, 59, of Uniondale with Laurie Raimo at Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue. "I’m not against anybody making money, but it’s the fans who put you on that pedestal,” Soriano said. Credit: James Soriano

James Soriano, 59, of Uniondale was looking forward to seeing Bruce Springsteen this year but nixed his plans when he saw how much the tickets cost.

“The prices were so unbearable that I no longer want to hear his music. I’m not against anybody making money, but it’s the fans who put you on that pedestal,” he says. “I realize tickets can’t be $40, but isn’t $125 enough? I saw a ticket on the floor for $1,200 in row 40!”

Tanya Becker of Deer Park is a Pink fan, but she couldn’t bring herself to pay $400 a ticket to see the singer on her current “Trustfall Tour.”

“She’s a dynamic performer, but I’ve got two kids in college,” says Becker, 53. “In a way, I think it’s greed. I don’t think ticket prices need to be what they are. The prices are keeping people out.”

Dynamic pricing, service fees 

Greg Antis, 62, of North Merrick, at an Aerosmith concert...

Greg Antis, 62, of North Merrick, at an Aerosmith concert at UBS Arena in Elmont. “If you are the one looking on the internet, picking your seats and downloading the ticket on your phone, where’s the service?” Credit: Greg Antis

Two other ticketing issues that have fans steamed are dynamic pricing and service fees. Dynamic pricing occurs when prices rise as the demand for the concert goes up.

“Dynamic pricing is so ridiculous,” says Migliozzi. “I’m sitting on my computer watching the prices go up as I’m trying to get tickets.”

Soriano adds, “The funny thing is, if a show is not selling, you don’t see price reductions.”

Service fees are tacked onto the ticket price before the tax, bumping up prices by a third or in some cases 50% depending on the cost of the ticket.

Gregory Twachtman, 51, who grew up in Medford, recently purchased a $50 Iron Maiden ticket and the service fee was $25.

“The fee shouldn’t be half the price of the ticket,” he says.

The same thing happened to Jill Rezak, 58, of Oceanside.

“I wanted to go see Donny Osmond. The tickets were $40 but the service fee was $20, so I said forget it,” she says.

Many wonder why a service fee even exists if there’s no service involved.

“If you are the one looking on the internet, picking your seats and downloading the ticket on your phone, where’s the service?” says Greg Antis, 62, of North Merrick. “If we are doing all this work, why is Ticketmaster getting such big service fees? To me, it’s no different than a self-checkout at Walmart.”

Cathy Mongiello, 61, of Oakdale, recently bought four tickets to see the Foo Fighters at Citi Field in July, which cost her $1,450, with $277 worth of service fees.

“I’d go to the venue to pick up the tickets if I could avoid those fees,” she says. “And I don’t even get a ticket stub for my collection!”

The Cure's Robert Smith took on Ticketmaster and was able...

The Cure's Robert Smith took on Ticketmaster and was able to waive some service fees for his fans. Credit: Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP/Jack Plunkett

Alternative rockers The Cure recently fought back against Ticketmaster. During the band’s 2023 “Shows of a Lost World Tour,” lead singer Robert Smith was horrified by the fees Ticketmaster was charging the band's fans and called the company out on social media.

Smith said, “The system that values profit over people is really what needs to be changed.” The singer claimed he was “sickened” by the “Ticketmaster ‘fees’ debacle” and noted, “The artist has no way to limit them.”

However, Smith got Ticketmaster to refund fans $5 to $10 on the service fees.

“I appreciate what Robert Smith did to combat Ticketmaster,” says Twachtman. “I’d like to see more artists do that.”

Kari Tabag, 51, of North Massapequa adds, “The Cure held them accountable and we got money back. Was it a lot? No, but it’s about the basic principle.”

And now it looks as if the U.S. Senate is taking action. Earlier this month six senators introduced the Fans First Act, which would focus on price transparency, consumer protection and prohibiting bad actors from purchasing tickets, then reselling them at high prices. This issue was brought into the spotlight when fans had a hard time obtaining tickets to Swift’s “Eras Tour” in late 2022 and in turn sued Ticketmaster for misleading them on ticket availability and allowing scalpers and bots to purchase tickets.

“The current ticketing system is riddled with problems and doesn’t serve the needs of fans, teams, artists or venues,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in a statement. “This legislation would rebuild trust in the ticketing system by cracking down on bots and others who take advantage of consumers through price gouging and other predatory practices and increase price transparency for ticket purchasers.”

Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment declined to be interviewed for this story.

Obtaining tickets: 'It’s like playing Whac-A-Mole'

The current process to obtain tickets can be quite a journey. While you no longer have to wait outside in line overnight or listen for the number on your wristband to be called, getting tickets online is still a battle.

“It used to be you’d put in a request for four tickets and the best available tickets at that moment would pop up for sale. Now you ask for four tickets and it lists every single set of four tickets that are available in the venue,” says Kevin Powers, 46, of Island Park. “Everybody is trying to click on them. When you put a set of four in your cart and it says, ‘Sorry, another fan beat you to these tickets.’ Then you have to pick a different set.”

Tabag adds, “It’s like playing Whac-A-Mole. You are furiously clicking all over the place.”

Very often several presales are held before the official on-sale date arrives. This involves having a specific credit card (American Express, Citibank) or obtaining a presale code from the artist’s fan club.

“There’s an artist presale, venue presale, Citi Card presale — it gets to the point where the allotment of tickets at the general public sale is so small because of all the presales,” says Powers. “It just makes the process more stressful.”

How some fans cut concert costs

Some concert fans have found ways to get in their live music fix without breaking the bank.

Paul Esposito, 55, of Wantagh will buy six tickets and sell off four.

“It offsets the cost of our tickets,” says Esposito, who also sees free shows at Jones Beach by volunteering to collect money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving at the entry gate. “It’s the only way you can really survive.”

Nina Cancellieri, 59, of Seaford, loves to go to shows but waits until the last minute to see if she can find cheap deals via an online secondary market website like TickPick.

“It’s a gamble I’m always taking. For me, it’s a bit of a challenge, but also kind of exciting,” says Cancellieri. “Are we getting into the show tonight? Maybe, maybe not. So far, I’ve gotten in every single time.”

Susan Simons, 52, of Farmingdale, started working as an usher at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater.

“I call it my summer camp,” she says. “It’s my happy place. I thrive on the energy.”

Mary McNally, 61, of Deer Park, looks out for deals on Groupon.

“You can get tickets for shows for $25 to $30 if you do the research,” she says.

Michael Connor, 65, of Babylon, waits for Ticketmaster’s $25 All-In ticket deal in May.

“I’ll buy a bunch of tickets at those prices and have a party with it,” he says.

Karp even tries his hand at winning tickets on the radio.

Stations such as WALK 97.5 FM, Q104.3 FM, KJOY 98.3 FM, WCBS 880 AM, LITE 106.7 FM and WBAB 102.3 FM “give away tickets all the time,” he says. “You’ve got to know when to call in.”

Concert security has increased

Going into a concert can also be an ordeal these days. Security has gotten more intense, resembling the process of boarding an airplane — long lines, bag searches and going through metal detectors.

“You have to get to the venue extra early because you could be stuck on a security line for a half-hour,” says Mike Gervasi, 68, of South Setauket. “It’s important to arrive at least 45 minutes before start time.”

Fain adds, “Security once made me throw out cough drops and a TUMS chewable, yet both were sealed. I felt so violated. This was over and above.”

It’s suggested that before attending a show, attendees check the venue website for their security policies.

“My pet peeve is Jones Beach, who only allows a tiny clutch purse with a small wallet, which is not enough as a woman,” says Ida Vidic, 57, of New Hyde Park. “I had a clutch that was half an inch too big and they made me go back to my car to put my stuff in a clear plastic Ziploc bag.”

However, most fans understand the need for the extensive security measures.

“Sadly in the world we live in, it feels necessary to have safety precautions. While it can be a bit of a hassle, it’s worth it for the reassurance of safety and comfort,” says Nocella. “You have to take the good with the bad and understand why it’s there. It seems like every year there’s more of a reason for it.”

Bad behavior: Lack of courtesy 

One of the ongoing issues in the current concert scene is audience behavior. Since the pandemic, it appears some fans have lost the ability to be courteous.

“People are used to watching entertainment in their living rooms and they think it’s the same,” says Allison West, 65, of Oyster Bay. “They talk at full volume then they get annoyed if you ask them to tone it down.”

Esposito was recently watching The Who at UBS Arena perform the classic ballad, “Behind Blue Eyes” when a man behind him wouldn’t stop talking.

“I turned to the guy and said, ‘You know, there’s a concert going on right now,’ ” says Esposito. “He looked at me like, ‘What’s your problem?’ But I paid $150 for my seat!”

Bad behavior: Phones

Cellphones have become a point of contention with fans excessively filming and taking photos throughout the show.

“I was recently on the floor at a Depeche Mode concert and I could not see because this person’s camera was in my face the whole time,” says Tabag. “We had to stand on our chairs and then the people behind us had trouble seeing. It was horrible.”

Gervasi adds, “If someone is in front of me with a camera or behind me with a flash, they get a tap on the shoulder. It’s out of hand. Some places police it, others don’t.”

At the Patchogue Theatre, Rizzo-Berg does her best to suppress cellphone usage during concerts.

“It’s difficult to navigate unless you take the phones away. We have posted signs noting not to take photos or videos,” she says. “But there’s always somebody that feels they don’t have to follow that request.”

Some artists don’t mind when fans film them, while others forbid it. Tool, Bob Dylan and Jack White are all known for banning cellphones while acts like the Darkness or the Hives kindly ask fans to refrain.

“I love when the performers tell the people in the crowd to put their phones away,” says Simons. “It’s about enjoying the moment.”

However, some fans like filming a clip or two.

“I’ll shoot a song here and there,” says Rezak. “I figure when I’m 80 in a nursing home I can play it and relive my childhood.”

Bad behavior: Alcohol amped up

Back in the day only beer was served at concerts. But now venues are equipped with full bars where you can get everything from a dry martini to a white wine spritzer. Some feel this increase of alcohol has altered the concertgoing experience.

“Now people are constantly going to get drinks instead of watching the show,” says Tabag. “If that’s what you want to do, go to a bar. But instead they come back to your row with their hands full of alcohol.”

Ginger Bonner, 65, of Bellmore, had a bad experience with drunks at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

“I had an entire drink spilled on me and I’m not a drinker. It was very upsetting,” she recalls. “Plus, I worry about these people driving home.”

Others view the increase in alcohol as just an enhancement of the concert amenities.

“I think the venues want to give the consumer more options and choices,” says Simons. “They are trying to accommodate not just the beer drinker.”

Andrew Schwartz, 41, of Oceanside, adds, “I think the venues would rather have you inside the venue drinking than out in the parking lot.”

Most chalk alcohol up to just being part of the concert scene.

“You’ll always have overserved knuckleheads to deal with. But everybody is there to have a good time,” says Soriano. “When you are in a crowd, you have to suck it up a bit. You are not going to a dinner with three people at a table.”

But when all is said and done …

Regardless of ticket prices and the various hassles involved, it’s clear that the thirst for live concerts is not waning.

“It’s exhilarating, like a natural high,” says Bonner. “I love when the whole audience has their lights on and we are cheering together. It’s like we all come together as one.”


Many of the big names headlining arenas and stadiums these days are legacy acts who are in the twilight of their careers. Bands like the Eagles, KISS and Aerosmith are on or just completed their last go-around while the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan are still touring in their 80s. But the question is … who will fill these venues once the classic acts pack it in?

“Many artists out there don’t have the creativity of Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones or Simon & Garfunkel. These are incredible masters,” says concert promoter Larry Vaughn of Bethpage. “I don’t think their music will ever die. I believe there will be cover bands playing their great material still drawing people 25 years from now.”

However, others see younger bands taking their place.

“Coldplay, the Foo Fighters, Blink-182 and Green Day are becoming legacy acts as well as Taylor Swift and Beyoncé,” says Michael Rodgers, 39, of Centereach. “I think they will all fight for staying power.”

Rock bands such as The National, the 1975, the Struts, Mammoth WVH, Dirty Honey and Rival Sons are on the rise. Meanwhile, many are curious to see how long the pop careers of Harry Styles, Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish will last.

Susan Simons, 52, of Farmingdale says, “The bottom line is live music is not going away. It’s just going to evolve and change.”   — DAVID J. CRIBLEZ

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