Why Beyoncé and Other Concert Tickets Are So Hard to Buy Now

"Fans found purchasing tickets so anxiety-inducing they cried."
Beyonce accepts an award wearing a metallic dress.
Photo: via Getty Images

POV: It’s 9:59AM and sweat is dripping down your face as your boss asks you why you haven’t replied to an email. Your heartbeat grows louder than the sound of your Slack notifications. You’ve got three laptops open with two different VPNs installed and you’re eagerly awaiting the moment the clock strikes ten. No, you’re not hacking into the Royal Mail or the latest KSI-Logan Paul fight, you’re trying to buy a concert ticket to see your favourite artist – Beyoncé – on her world tour. 


If you’re lucky enough to actually make it through to the ticket site – without it crashing or throwing yourself out the window – seated tickets range from £59 to £200. Even then, considering the millions of fans who registered for presale, chances are they’ll all be sold out before this general sale anyway. By some miracle you make it through to the last remaining tickets, the “Pure/Honey” V.I.P. experience packages, but quickly realise why they’re still remaining: V.I.P. tickets to the Renaissance World Tour cost up to £2,400. You read it right, that’s in Great British Pounds – AKA way over most people’s monthly rent and nearly equivalent to the (absurd) average monthly cost of living in London.  

Gigs are meant to be a form of escapism, a place you can live in the moment and temporarily forget about the daily stressors of life, but these days the mental and physical preparation to attend a gig is an even bigger stressor itself.

“I’ve only been successful buying presale tickets once or twice in my life,” says Ashlyn, a Harry Styles stan who chose not to include her surname for privacy reasons, like others in this piece. “Most of my tickets have been purchased on resale.” Before tickets go live, Ashlyn asks close friends to sign up for a presale code, she clears her work schedule and she sets up multiple devices in hope of scoring a ticket. Other Styles fans found purchasing tickets so anxiety-inducing they cried: Since when did the ticketing process get so harrowing?


You could say it all started to go to shit when the dreaded presale was introduced. There are currently a myriad of different presales for customers of companies like O2 or American Express, meaning priority access for the select few.

As a way to give true fans priority access, Ticketmaster launched “Verified Fan Presale” in 2017. Essentially, fans who register are given a unique code to access tickets before they’re made available to the general public. Although this initiative was supposedly to “ensure that real fans get to see the artists they love,” Ticketmaster doesn’t reserve a portion of tickets for the general on-sale. This means all of the tickets can – and often will – sell out during a presale, meaning a general sale can begin with zero tickets, AKA it’s a total utter waste of time.

To add fuel to the fire destroying gig culture as we know it, Ticketmaster can choose to set “dynamic pricing,” where the cost of a ticket is raised to excessive amounts based on the demand for the artist. (Think Uber surge pricing, but for gig tickets.) 


In January 2023, there was even an U.S. Senate Committee hearing investigating Ticketmaster’s monopoly over the music industry, following reports that Taylor Swift fans were unable to purchase tickets due to site errors. Ticketmaster also cancelled Swift’s general sale because they’d already sold most of them in presales.

When Beyoncé’s tour tickets were first announced, the Senate Judiciary Committee actually sent Ticketmaster a cheeky warning on Twitter in anticipation of the chaos: “We’re watching, @Ticketmaster.” 

It doesn’t help that Ticketmaster’s platform is ill-equipped to handle such large frequencies of online traffic. Lanie Brice attended 30 concerts in 2022, but she’s not sure how many she’ll go to this year due to the difficulty of buying tickets. While attempting to buy presale tickets to Harry Styles’ Love on Tour, Lanie waited eight hours in a virtual queue and once she had tickets in her cart, the website wouldn’t load past the card details stage. Multiple credit cards and presale codes later, Lanie realised it was a fault on Ticketmaster’s end.

This experience made Lanie loose all faith in the system – she got a presale code for Taylor Swift’s Midnights tour, but was so disheartened that she didn’t bother to try at all. “I just had to make peace with the fact that I’m probably never going to see Taylor live again,” she says. “As much as I love concerts, I just don't see them as something I can continue to do if live music continues on this path.”


Lanie isn’t the only one. A recent YouGov survey shows that 51 percent of Brits say the price of tickets has stopped them from attending gigs. Tracy Chalk is one of many disappointed Beyoncé fans who opted out of purchasing tickets due to their price point. “The only option I got was a ticket for £2,400 after the site kicked me out,” she tells VICE. “I wasted half a day not working and cancelled yoga to find that out. I’m not sure anyone should be able to charge that amount.” 

Tara, a frequent concert goer since 2012, remembers a time where gig tickets felt much more accessible roughly five to ten years ago. She’d often wait until days before the show to purchase a ticket – in One Direction’s 2014 heyday, she even bought tickets for their tour three days in advance. This year, Tara tried to get Taylor Swift tickets but seats in “the gods” (furthest away from the stage) were the only option left: They cost more than double what she paid to see One Direction at the same venue years ago. “I love live music, but the experience isn’t worth the stress and money anymore,” says Tara.

We might be free from pandemic lockdowns, but getting gig action has hardly got much easier. With the live music industry still recouping from COVID-19 losses, it seems fans have been chosen to repair the damage - despite the continuing cost of living crisis.

All music lovers want to do is let loose, but it might be back to the lounge for one of those living room raves (circa 2020) for the foreseeable. “In a world so tainted by panic can’t we escape for one night?” says Tara. “Why is it so hard to reach that without sacrificing hours of your time and hundreds of dollars?”