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Music

Watch Kurt Cobain and Nirvana react to ticket prices in 1993

@josephtaysom

Refreshingly, there was never a distinct line that separated Nirvana and their fans. The trio didn’t believe they were above anybody else, a factor that is reflected in almost everything they did, including their reasonable ticket pricing.

Even after achieving mainstream success with their major label breakthrough, Nevermind, the band didn’t stray away from their moral compass to begin chasing the green paper. That wasn’t what Nirvana was about, and they wanted the music to be something that everyone could enjoy regardless of wealth.

Although Nirvana were no longer playing to a few hundred people in sweaty clubs, instead graduating to arenas to fulfil the wild demand for tickets, their shows didn’t fall in line with the standard pricing strategy of these venues and Kurt Cobain couldn’t believe how much others were charging.

During an appearance on TV in 1993, the band were asked for their thoughts on artists demanding $50-75 for tickets. The singer looked visibly mystified that this was happening and asked the host, “There are people who are charging that much money?” he said.

Cobain then proceeded to ask his band’s team how much Nirvana tickets were, and the answer was just $17. Considering they were the most important band on the planet, Nirvana’s reasonable pricing meant anybody could attend rather than their shows being for an exclusive few.

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In comparison, Madonna was one of the names that asked fans to pay an extortionate fee to watch her concerts, and Cobain couldn’t hide his sheer disgust at the notion. While Krist Novoselic humorously added, “We were talking about charging $25, and really milk it. Really take them for all they got.” Defending their pricing decision, Cobain added: “Production costs are so astronomical, it’s amazing. We make the least amount of money.”

A facet that made Nirvana different to other bands is their transparency, and this situation was no different. They honestly revealed they get a 25% cut on ticket sales, which they shared out between the members and equated to $1.75 each per attendee.

It made no difference whether they were making $5,000 or $500,000 each per gig. All that mattered was the band had enough money to get by, and the three-piece knew it wasn’t important how many zeroes are sitting in your bank account.

This attitude won’t come as a surprise, considering Nirvana were a band that championed the little guy and longed for a non-discriminatory world. If they sold out on their ethos after smelling success, it would have gone against everything the group claimed to stand for and severely damaged their authenticity.

Watch the clip in its entirety below.