The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival tickets have risen drastically in its 50 year history. Those interested in going often ask themselves, “Is it worth the price?” NolaSome will look at just how much the price has risen and will answer the question . . . “Is Jazz Fest worth the price?”
The first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was held in 1970 and tickets cost only $3. There were only 350 people in attendance. Some of the performers at this first fest were Pete Fountain, Mahalia Jackson, Duke Ellington, Al Hirt, Fats Domino and The Meters.
The price remained at $3 until 1973 when the only price drop in Jazz Fest History took place. In 1973 tickets dropped to $2.
In 1979 the ticket price doubled to $4. By 1988 the price was an astounding $9. Ten years later in 1998 it cost $16 to get in.
The mid 2000s saw drastic increases in ticket prices. In 2000 it cost just $20 to get in but by the end of the decade it more than doubled to $50.
In 2010 tickets were $60 at the gate and this year (2019) admission is $85 (If the Rolling Stones would not have canceled, the second Thursday would have cost $185).
TICKET PRICES v INFLATION
Jazz Fest ticket prices did not keep pace with inflation in 1980 and 1990. Based on the $3 price in 1970, the 1980 price was 37% lower than inflation and the 1990 price was 12% lower than inflation.
In 2000, tickets slightly outpace inflation. The cost of admission was 47% higher than inflation.
By 2010 prices were rising drastically. The $60 ticket price was 247% higher than the inflation ticket price of $17.27.
In 2019 the difference is more drastic with a single day ticket costing $85 dollars while the inflated price would be $20.17. That is a 321% increase!
Actual Ticket Prices compared to Ticket Price based on inflation since 1970
WHY DO CONCERTS (AND FESTIVALS) COST SO MUCH
There are two main reasons why ticket prices for concerts and festivals cost so much to attend.
The first is because shows have gotten fancier with lights, video screens, technology, etc..
The Second, and less obvious reason, is the World Wide Web.
Digital piracy took off in the 2000s. Artists replaced the lost revenue in album sales with revenue from live performances. Even fans who do not pay for an artists music will buy a ticket to a concert.
The increase in concert ticket pricing is consistent with the idea that touring is a more important way for musicians to make a living.
In the 2000s the top 35 artists made over seven times more money from touring than from record sales.
So there had to be a trade off somewhere. If we want free or cheap music online the bands need to make their money elsewhere . . . concerts and festivals.
IS JAZZ FEST WORTH THE PRICE?
While Jazz fest tickets have risen over 300% faster than inflation they are still a bargain. Concert tickets have risen even faster since the 70s.
If you were going to see any of the headliners outside of a festival setting you are likely to pay more than you would for one day at Jazz Fest.
If you were to see Dave Matthews, Chris Stapleton or Al Green you would likely pay twice as much as the $85 Jazz Fest price. The Rolling Stones would have been a bargain at $185. The cheapest tickets for The Stones Houston show are $226 on ticketmaster.com.
You would have to buy tickets to many of these acts on the secondary market where tickets are often two to three times more.
Many artists are making their only appearance this year at Jazz Fest. Katy Perry, Bonnie Raitt, Logic, J. Balvin and Ciara do not have any North American tour dates listed on Ticketmaster.com.
These prices are just to see a single act. At Jazz Fest you get an entire day of great music.
If you were to spend all day on the second Saturday at the Acura Stage you would hear and see $281 of music for only $85. That is a bargain even if you do not go to the Gentilly Stage to see Aaron Neville or Diana Ross or the Congo Square Stage to see Big Freedia or Pitbull.
YES! JAZZ FEST IS WORTH IT!
Prices may have increased at an absurd rate but so have concert tickets. We hope now you have a better understanding why.
At Jazz Fest you not only get to see the artist you came for but you can stage hop and find new bands and many different genres of music. No concert or other festival has the great food that our Jazz Fest has.
Jazz Fest has the people of New Orleans. We know how to party and have a greater appreciation of music, food and culture than people anywhere else.
Finally, and most importantly, Jazz Fest is in New Orleans. When you leave the Fair Grounds you are not in the middle of Tennessee or stuck in the desert. You are in the middle of a city where the music and food will continue until the gates open the next day.