Our lives would be quite different without live music, therefore we owe it to a particular artist for playing the first-ever concert and thus starting a musical revolution.

Though rock 'n' roll didn't come into existence until the mid-1900s, concerts have been held for centuries. Classical composers used to conduct symphonies during the 1700s, and these were also events that attendees paid for. The very first concert was a little different, though, and it took place in the century prior.

Who Played the First-Ever Concert?

According to a 1936 publication in The Musical Quarterly by Hugh Arthur Scott, the very first musical performances that people paid to watch took place in London, England in 1672. They were performed by composer and violinist John Banister in his home. Scott noted that there were other performances held in theaters decades prior in the form of plays, church services and other spectacles, but Banister's concerts were the first where people of the general public paid solely to hear the music on its own.

How Much Did the First Concerts Cost to See?

A research paper titled "The Marketing of Concerts in London 1672 - 1749" states that Roger North, an amateur musician that knew Banister, said that it cost one shilling per person to attend Banister's concerts. The shilling is a form of British currency that no longer exists, but Brittanica notes that it used to be one-twentieth of a pound.

"The Marketing of Concerts in London" also says that Banister's concerts were advertised in a bi-weekly newspaper called The London Gazette. One such advertisement read, "These are to give notice, that at Mr. John Banister's house (now called the Musick-School), over against the George Tavern in White Fryers, this present Monday, will be Musick performed by excellent masters, beginning precisely at four of the clock in the afternoon, and every afternoon for the future, precisely at the same hour."

Eventually, other musicians adopted Banister's method of holding regular concerts, and paying to hear live music became more commonplace. By the early 1700s, most artists launched what was essentially a subscription service to see them perform, which guaranteed that a certain number of tickets were sold and also allowed them to build up a loyal following, as subscribers were able to see them perform multiple times.

Over time, artists' ticket prices increased. A 1709 quote written in the Female Tatler read, "... at Consorts of Note the Prices are extravagant, purposely to keep out inferiour People," meaning that the events became something that only the affluent could afford to attend.

Sound familiar?

How Were Tickets Sold?

Where tickets were sold for Banister's first concerts is a bit of a mystery since they were often held at his house, according to "The Marketing of Concerts in London." However, as the demand for musical performances increased and more artists started playing them, the number of ticket-selling locations also increased.

Most tickets were sold at the venue where the concert was held, either in advance or at the starting time of the event. Coffee houses, taverns, shops and other places people generally frequented throughout the day also sold them.

READ MORE: 10 Ways Not to Be an A--hole at Concerts

The Rock + Metal Artists Who Have Sold the Most Concert Tickets (Five Million or More)


All ticket totals below are from Pollstar's July 2022 report of the Top Touring Artists.

These concert ticket totals date back to 1981, which is when Pollstar began tracking.

Artists are listed in order of least to most tickets sold with five million tickets being the minimum threshold.

Only three rock artists have sold more than 20 million tickets!

Gallery Credit: Joe DiVita

More From Loudwire