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McGill: College is expensive — Red Rocks should offer student discounts

Raise your hand if you’ve missed out on at least one concert that you were dying to go to but couldn’t quite swing it because college is expensive. Almost everyone? Me too. 

It’s a relatively painful experience, and once you get over the hard-hitting reality that you are simply not going to see the 1975 in all their angsty, British, black-light glory on that Red Rocks stage, you have to find a way to deal with the anxiety of all the pressing questions after the fact: When is (insert name of artist)’s next show? Will they have a new album out by then? What if this is the one time they’re ever going to play (insert name of favorite song by aforementioned artist) live, on tour, and I’m just MISSING IT? What’s the quickest way to make $100? Do I really need this textbook?


*Sighs heavily as inner monologue fizzles out with a few choice words.*

Regardless of what show(s) you’ve missed out on, that feeling really universally sucks.

Sure, turning on your favorite playlist and spinning poi, doing cool things with those light-show gloves, going for a drive, having a stress-releasing dance party in the living room or just closing your eyes to lie away from the world for a while are good ways to use music to keep your cool, but all pale in comparison to the feeling of actually being there — in the middle of the rhythmic, intentional, perfectly-timed noise — where the music fills every space around you and almost lifts you up, suspended in the sound and safe from everything that was plaguing your mind before the stage lights went up and you started going crazy with the rest of the crowd.

I think experiencing that feeling every once in a while is really important because music is such a significant part of most people and, like humor, is how we cope with life’s little nightmares. For a lot of us, music is freedom. And unfortunately, that freedom comes at a seemingly reasonable price plus tax and a ridiculously high convenience charge.

I don’t mind paying $30-$40 for the average concert ticket, but when an additional $28-$30 convenience fee gets tacked on upon checkout, I feel like I’m buying an extra ticket for my best imaginary friend just in case my actual friend can’t make it that night. Not to mention that it cuts into the gas money I was planning to use to get to Red Rocks for said concert…IF I WAS GOING. (I hope you read that in Timmy Turner’s dad’s voice.)

The general cost of living continues to increase for college students, and decreasing employment rates coupled with rising job competition upon graduation causes personal expectations and external pressures to surge pretty high. Practical and economic reasoning aside, college is largely a time of uncertainty and difficult decisions, and our favorite songs might not always have the answers but they often help us to not feel so alone.

It is for these reasons that I think Red Rocks Amphitheatre as well as other rather iconic and well-loved Colorado concert venues should offer significant student discounts or nix the convenience charge on a few popular concerts throughout the year. I could definitely understand the venues not wanting to sell out much-coveted seats for popular shows solely to just under 10,000 college students at a discount, so one option to avoid that is limiting the student discount ticket pool to the first 1,000 students who purchase a ticket.

Not only will more students increase their attendance to shows which will subsequently increase food and beverage sales, but the fact that the venue cut us some slack as broke college students and made it possible for us to see our favorite artists perform sets from of our favorite albums helps build major brand loyalty by establishing positive relationships and associations between the venue and consumers.

Unfortunately, we aren’t just victims of skyrocketing ticket prices — we are also a contributing factor. Most if not all of us are guilty of downloading music for free online at least once in our lives (remember when LimeWire was a thing?), but doing so is actually one of the main reasons that tickets are so expensive. Selling their music is an artist or band’s main source of income, and if that income takes a big cut due to thousands of free downloads on a daily basis, naturally they are going to charge us more to appreciate it in person since it appears we feel that appreciating it in the privacy of our headphones isn’t worth our dime.


I’m not going to start preaching about how we need to stop illegally downloading free music from the Internet, but I do think it’s important to note that we could take responsibility and actually make a difference with slowing the increase of attending concerts.

Music gives people common ground, it brings them together to enjoy a few incredible moments away from the harder, less pleasant parts of life. Right now, college students are being predominantly priced out of that experience, but I think students and concert venues like Red Rocks should figure out how to meet halfway on this issue — whether that takes the form of a coalition campaign against illegal music downloads for which one of the perks is discounted concert tickets, or something else of that proactive, give-and-take nature. 

Collegian Opinion Editor Haleigh McGill can be reached at or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.

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