Jack Antonoff on Ticket Prices and Touring Costs: "Everybody's Got to Chill on the Artists"

"We're a very easy group of people — historically, and not much has changed — to take advantage of because we didn't start doing it because of money"

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Feb 6, 2023

Last night (February 5), superproducer and Bleachers guy Jack Antonoff took home the Grammy for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for the second straight year — and his most recent work, Taylor Swift's Midnights and the 1975's Being Funny in a Foreign Language, wasn't even released within the 2023 window of eligibility. Talking to the press after his win, he addressed soaring concert ticket prices and the sustainability of pandemic-era touring for musicians.

"The whole thing is incredibly tough," Antonoff said when asked about Live Nation's monopolization of the touring industry. "There's no reason why — if I can go online and buy a car and have it delivered to my house, why can't I buy a fucking ticket at the price that the artist wants it to be? So it's that simple. And you know the reason why. It's not 'cause of artists. So the one thing that I would say while holding a microphone is everybody's got to chill on the artists. Because everyone's trying to figure it out. We know who's making it impossible."

Antonoff is close with both Swift and Bruce Springsteen, who sang on Bleachers' "chinatown." While the producer didn't name names, both of those artists have pretty famously faced backlash over ticket prices and general issues with Ticketmaster (and its parent company, Live Nation).

He continued, "Look, I've asked very simple things of the industry. Let artists opt out of dynamic pricing. Stop taxing merch, and let artists sell tickets at a price that they actually believe. Don't turn a live show into a free market. That's really dirty. Charge what you think is fair. But if for one person $50 is nothing, and one person $50 is more than they could ever spend, you're creating a situation where a different group can come together at one price. The second everything fluctuates is the second that everything goes K-shaped and turns into a weird free market. That's not what we do."
@varietymagazine #jackantonoff addresses #livenation ♬ original sound - Variety
Antonoff went on to discuss how artists get paid, as well as the current touring landscape — and his perception of Canada's valuation of arts workers (which we know is still far from perfect) in comparison to the way things work in the US [as transcribed by Stereogum]:

How many broke artists do you know? How many broke people who work in the industry do you know? So there's problems all over the place. I came up in touring, and the touring industry, which I actually know best, is actually an interesting example of what's wrong. When you play a show, you carry the shame that you decided to be an artist, so you're just happy to do it because people tell you that you're so lucky. You walk into a room, everybody in that room is being paid a decent wage besides you. You have to become so successful before you can turn out a living. The same for producers, same thing for writers, same thing for artists, same thing for everyone.

Other countries do this in different ways. Canada, for example, has a government that has a big respect for their artists, and you can get grants and whatnot. We just need, as a culture, to move past the idea that you're just so fucking lucky to be there, so shut the hell up. Because it's very K-shaped, like all things, where either you're expected to tour or write or produce or perform for nothing because you're so damn lucky — which you are, but you should be compensated — or you have the world in front of you. So there's huge problems, and all you gotta do is look at the weird little grin on everyone's face.

​Look, I'm an artist, a producer, a touring artist, a songwriter. I don't fuckin' know what the streaming deal is. I don't know what's in the black box. We deal with the same stuff. And we're a group of people who don't want to sit around and think about money. We go back to the studio, we go back on tour. So it's tough because we're a very easy group of people — historically, and not much has changed — to take advantage of because we didn't start doing it because of money. Anyone who is here tonight — anyone, at some point, made peace with the idea of being broke…

I'm really obsessed with the touring side of it. It's crazy out there.


Antonoff's buddy Lorde has also spoken out about how touring has become a "demented struggle to break even or face debt," while Cadence Weapon and others have campaigned to end venue merch cuts.

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