The Irish live music industry: what needs to be changed

Enough is enough, Ireland has to lose its title as Europe’s most expensive gig destination

Let’s face it, more times than not global chart-topping artists skip Ireland on their world tours. For example, both Beyoncé and P!nk have not included an Irish date on the European Leg of their recent tours. Therefore, in the last few weeks, when acts such as Taylor Swift and Coldplay announced they were finally bringing their shows to Dublin, there was a huge delight amongst Irish fans. 

This meant there was also delight for hotel vendors and the ticketing giants. These sectors have proven themselves to be increasingly greedy in recent months. They are a stark outlier in comparison to the equivalent sectors in other European countries.

Before tickets even went on sale for Taylor Swift’s Tour, Dublin accommodation prices skyrocketed for the planned dates. Independent TD Thomas Pringle told the Dáil on the 28th of June, there was not a single room left for under €350 for any of the nights Swift is set to play in Dublin next June. 

At the same time, I was able to comfortably secure accommodation in Vienna for all three nights Swift is to play the Austrian capital for €360. To further investigate the extreme Irish price gouging at play, a quick search on (at the time of writing) shows that one Dublin hostel charges €643.50 to stay in one of their private rooms on Swift’s Saturday night gig here next June. I am paying nearly €300 less in Vienna, and staying an extra two nights.

To make these figures even more shocking, booking the same room in this Dublin hostel for the previous week’s Saturday night costs only €280.88. These statistics indicate that the Irish hospitality industry took full advantage of this opportunity. They knew a lot of fans would be willing to spend a substantial amount of money to ensure they had a place to stay in the capital to see their favourite artist. Unlike sports fixtures or a theatre show, artists such as Taylor Swift playing a gig in Dublin is a rare sight. Thus, many hoteliers sought to profit from this large demand.

“Supply and demand have a dominant influence for hoteliers everywhere, but Ireland takes it to the next extreme.”

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the Irish Hotels Federation has tried to justify the price increase stating that due to the majority of Irish hotels not making rooms available any earlier than twelve months out:  “there is currently very limited hotel availability … we do expect that there will be much more availability during the course of the next month or so for those who are looking to book accommodation for summer 2024.” The lack of accommodation for summer 2024 is evident as a search on indicates there are over 160 properties available to stay for a weekend in the city at the end of this month, compared to under 20 available for the same weekend in August 2024.

Supply and demand have a dominant influence for hoteliers everywhere, but Ireland takes it to the next extreme. Ticket sales have also been a major factor in draining Irish concertgoers’ pockets.

Tickets for Swift’s Dublin dates were amongst the most extortionate in Europe. General ticket prices ranged from €86.00 – €206.00. Meanwhile, the VIP packages were the most expensive on the European leg. For example, the “Karma Is My Boyfriend” VIP package includes first-entry access to the front of standing (pit) along with exclusive merch. For Dublin, this cost an eye-watering €743.62. Meanwhile, in the UK, it cost £387.40 and in Germany, €526.50. While all these prices are extremely high, how is it justifiable that one country can charge hundreds more for the same ticket? There are no hidden extras in the Dublin ticket, the only difference in these prices is the location.

The Irish public high-liability insurance costs play a huge factor in these staggering ticket prices. According to the Irish Examiner, it cost promoter Peter Aiken around €65,000 to insure Ed Sheeran’s gigs last year at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Meanwhile, it cost only €1,500 to insure Sheeran’s gig at Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast. The National Secretary of the Irish Show’s association Jim Harrison, commented that while the insurance has increased in recent years, it is also a problem that “everything has gone up around the same including marquees, portaloos, sound equipment and even the hiring of crowd control barriers.” Harrison’s comment highlights that inflation does not only affect live music. It is any live show in Ireland from sports matches to agricultural shows. The inflation costs combined with the high insurance costs reflect the ticketing prices seen today.

“It is not feasible for artists to play in Dublin, a city where they face the risk of colossal legal fees and where they could avoid them by playing elsewhere.”

In July 2021, the government implemented a ban on reselling tickets above the face value price through platforms such as StubHub. However, rising costs such as insurance have not been addressed. This results in Ireland being one of the most expensive countries in Europe to play a gig in (if not the most expensive). While the government has addressed the threat of ticket scalpers in the past, it is now time for the government to address the issue of the ever-increasing costs in the live music industry too. Alliance for Insurance Reform Director Peter Boland has said reform of these high public liability costs introduces, “a new concept to Irish law which is the voluntary assumption of risk. So, if you go to an adventure centre and you engage in an adventure in that centre, then clearly it comes with risks…” This would relieve live music venues of a huge responsibility. It is not feasible for artists to play in Dublin, a city where they face the risk of colossal legal fees and where they could avoid them by playing elsewhere. In a time where prices are constantly skyrocketing, the Irish government needs to be in standard with fellow European countries.

For now, concertgoers will continue to compare the Irish prices to the rest of Europe. One overarching factor will stand out, and that is the expense. People travel abroad constantly for concerts and are particularly attracted to places offering cheaper alternatives. Therefore, who will travel to Dublin to see an artist when everything from accommodation to ticket prices is so expensive? It sets a bleak reputation for the country. It deters people from abroad from visiting the country for music and encourages Irish people to travel abroad for the same reason. If the government does not intervene in tackling these rising costs and allows the industry to follow its current path, it will only have a detrimental impact in the long run.

Emma Rouine

Emma Rouine is the current Student Living Co - Editor and a Junior Sophister English Studies student. She previously served as Deputy Student Living Editor.