All things considered, Shanghai might be hosting one of the world’s most expensive concerts in two weeks.
Pop icon Wong Faye, returning after an “indefinite hiatus” in 2010, will be playing at the Mercedes Benz arena, and tickets, predictably, sold out in under 10 minutes of going on sale.
What caught Radar’s attention, though, was the ticket prices. 1800 RMB (~260 USD) for the cheapest tier? Standard tickets (ones where you can actually see the stage) ranging between 8000 to 13000 RMB (1150 to 1850 USD)?
At standard and VIP rates, that makes Wong Faye’s Christmas gig the most expensive concert in recent music history, out-charging The Rolling Stones (624 USD), Sting’s 60th birthday concert (1073 USD), the entire Glastonbury Festival (300 USD) and a full year’s worth of shows at the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (~900 USD).
While it’s amply evident that there is massive demand for Wong Faye, even at this price, our issue here is with the ethical justifications for overcharging (and let’s be clear, this is clearly overcharging).
The show was announced in Beijing in September, where Wong said, sharing the stage with officials from Tencent, that “she was interested in streaming technology and and VR.” Tencent will have streaming rights for the gig.
How exactly VR will figure in the concert remains to be seen, but even with state-of-the-art technological wizardry, the operational costs for this show do not come anywhere near the ticket prices being charged. It certainly aligns with the way that the economy of China seems to be skewing – what once was a competitively flat playing field has now become a steep hierarchy, defined largely by wealth. A society that is probably making poor Gini spin uncontrollably in his grave.
In the US, the musical Hamilton, while charging close to 500 USD for a single seat, also has a lottery system for cheap 10$ tickets, as well as regularly giving away tickets to charities and groups representing underprivileged communities.
Wong’s fans, if KTV lore is to be believed, span class, geography and gender across China, and yet this show – a chance to see an icon – is merely a playground for the super-rich.
Expect the scalpers to have a field day with this one. A merry Christmas for them indeed.