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Brussels-City distributes 400 free Beyoncé tickets to dance schools

09:39 12/05/2023

Brussels-City was gifted 400 tickets to Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour, which will stop at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on 14 May.

“As owner of the stadium, the City receives 400 tickets for each event,” Els Wauters, spokeswoman for sports alderman Benoit Hellings (Ecolo), told Bruzz.

“That seems a lot, but it’s not exceptional. At all big concerts, festivals and events, the owners of the buildings or festival grounds get a number of tickets. The city uses those to maintain our public relations.”

In the past, according to Wauters, “aldermen and city councillors were offered many more tickets, but that’s no longer the case.”

The Beyoncé tour has sparked controversy over its sky-high ticket prices. The cheapest ticket will cost at least €171, with the most expensive ones breaking €817.

And for a special ‘Pure/Honey On Stage Risers ticket’, fans are looking at €2,185.30, which is around a month’s salary for the average Belgian.

One reason tickets are so expensive is because of dynamic pricing, where tickets are sold by auction.

The use of dynamic pricing for the Beyoncé concert was a first in the Belgian concert world, but the system is not new – it has long been used in the hotel and airline sectors. Behind the method for concerts is American ticketing service Ticketmaster, owned by Live Nation.

“The system is only applied if it is approved by the artist and the promoter,” according to Live Nation's Nele Bigaré, adding that it sees dynamic pricing as a weapon against unofficial channels such as Viagogo, which trades tickets at inflated prices.

“The ticket market is very susceptible to fraud. Moreover, the proceeds of such sites end up with speculators and not with artists.”

But Gino Van Ossel, a professor of retail and trade marketing at Vlerick Business School, considered to be one of Europe's top experts on retail management and shopping behaviour, said the real explanation is simple greed.

“Live Nation and Ticketmaster are commercial companies, they mainly want to maximise their profits,” Van Ossel said.

Live Nation, a listed multinational, posted record revenues of $16.7 billion last year, $5 billion more than in 2019, before the pandemic.

“In Belgium you already have TicketSwap,” Van Ossel said. “There you can resell tickets legally, which flattens out usurious prices.”

Despite the prices, venues continue to fill up: the Botanique is back to the same number of visitors as before the pandemic, if not more.

“We are in a dematerialisation wave, where experience is gaining importance,” Van Ossel explains.

“Young people, especially urban audiences, are less likely to buy an expensive car, preferring to spend their pennies on travel, food or culture. Moreover, the crisis we have experienced in recent months mainly affected people who were already struggling and could not afford concerts before.”

But that points to a deeper issue, Van Ossel said.

“Do we want the people with the most money to also have the greatest chance of going to a concert? If you apply that system to everything, you're going to get a lot of things that are only available to the elite,” said Van Ossel.

“Or do we want everyone to have an equal chance, and risk some kind of lottery effect? Although either way it comes down to the same thing: not everyone who wants to can go to the event.”

Almost 13,000 people on Ticketswap are still hoping to get a ticket for Sunday’s concert, but students at Brussels’ dance schools may get lucky, as the city intends to distribute some of their free ones to these clubs.

“We also give away tickets for free to sports clubs in the city, so when the Red Devils play we target football clubs, but now for Beyoncé's concert we’re giving away tickets to different dance clubs in the City of Brussels,” Wauters explained.

Written by Helen Lyons