What is Happiness Worth?

In light of Dave breaking his foot in Sweden and then finishing the show, I’d thought I’d centre this post on the Foo fighters and my experiences at one of their recent gigs. Off we go.

As I stood enjoying the showmanship of Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, a thought kept popping back into my head; if money could buy happiness, this would be it. Sure this moment would pass and it did, but for those 2.5 hours, I was truly happy and I would gladly pay the ticket price again and again.

In reflection of this amazing concert, two things struck me as interesting:

1. Dave’s comments that he believed that Adelaide still had a rock and roll music scene;

2. The subsequent comments from AJ Maddah and random fans.


For those that don’t know, AJ Maddah is the lead promoter for the Soundwave music festival. AJ Maddah has indicated that Soundwave may not be returning to Adelaide in 2016 due to poor ticket sales. As such, this essentially leaves Adeladie with two ‘music’ festivals; Stereosonic and Future Music Festival (Woopty doo *Sarcasm intended*).

*UPDATE* – FMF may also not be returning now. I think this reinforces my point

Which brings me to the point of this post; the question of whether you can put a ‘price on happiness?’ Or more specifically ‘At what point do you stop paying for happiness?’

It would be unfair to make this assessment without a few assumptions. As such, one of my main assumptions is that people do not behave rationally – why else would we pay hundreds of dollars to see someone scream and play a guitar (the foo fighters are not exempt from this). However, I am of the belief that there is a tipping point; the point where the irrational becomes rational. That is why no matter what your beliefs, backgrounds, personal tastes and so on are, you may initially be ‘irrational’ compared to another person but at some point everyone reaches the same rational position (as all money is a finite quanitity).

Personally, I don’t get a lot out of metal and punk (the majority of the Soundwave 2015 lineup). To me the majority of metal and punk is not about happiness but is instead about providing an outlet for frustrations and built up emotions. This outlet is definitely required for ‘sanity’ reasons so this then poses the question; why are people being so rational when it comes to purchasing (or not purchasing) Soundwave tickets?

soundwave 2011

Let’s contrast this with the Soundwaves of 2011 and 2013 where ‘mainstream’ bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and 30 Seconds to Mars (2011) and Blink 182 and Linkin Park (2013) were in attendance. I would go so far as to say that unlike the recent headlining bands, these guys appeal to a wider range of people chasing ‘irrational happiness.’ As such, if you have a diminishing ‘irrational happy pool’ surely the number ticket sales would exponentially decrease when you consider rising ticket prices (economics 101).

soundwave 2013

This is also why I’m not surprised to hear that the festivals that are no longer providing ‘widespread irrational happiness’ are failing (see Big Day Out who tried to mash the molly enthusiasts with the hardcore rock n rollas and resulted in sending both groups home unhappy).


It might be an optimists view (money NOT being able to buy happiness is the pessimist’s view) but I think everyone generally wants to be happy (even Voldemort is chasing his own version of ‘irrational happiness’). As such, when promoters chase profits they can sometimes be blindsided about what truly sells an event; the provision of irrational happiness.


Let’s now take this to a wider audience and consider sports by comparing horse racing and cricket. Two things are obvious here. Attendees of horse racing are not there for the actual races. It is the promise of fun and happiness (with winning money on a race being a side bonus) that ultimately sells the event. On the flip side, unless you are one of the privileged few that is able to hang out in the members area and get trashed off many a beer, chances are you won’t be attending the cricket unless you are a fanatic (very much a niche market these days – Australia playing is the exception). It’s extremely obvious which one is providing the ‘irrational happiness’ and which one provides the rational.


Let’s also consider two of the best paid sports in the world; European Soccer and American Baseball. The salaries on offer here are astronomical compared to other sports around the world; to the point that people love to critique the wages paid, whenever there is even the slightest slip up from any sportsman. Ultimately, if the fan is paying the wages, its not the sporting ability or professionalism that governs the salary. It is the promise of irrational happiness and whilst this illusion exists, their wages will continue to be justified.

Interestingly, I think you could almost equate any monetary transactions as a trade for happiness (or at least future happiness). Why else would we pay ‘overpay’ for something if not for the assumption that everyone is chasing their own version of irrational happiness? Penny for you thoughts?


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