TicketMaster/Live Nation Ticketing and why you should care

1994.  In 1994, Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster for creating a monopoly in the live music business.  Back then, Pearl Jam tried to baseline ticket “fees” at $1.85 per ticket.  $1.85!  Think about the last time you bought tickets to a concert- how much did it cost?  We bought 4 tickets for the Adele concert in Seattle, the fees were $16.50 per ticket for a “Service Fee”, A facility fee of $4.00 and another order processing fee of $4.00 for a total of $88.25 on 4 tickets!  That means that in a venue like Key Arena, which seats 17,459– Ticketmaster collects $288,073.50 in “Service Fees” alone.

Here’s the crazy part– that isn’t even what I submitted a complaint to the Washington State AG’s office!  No, the fees to me are part of the ticket price– if you want to go see someone, you have to pay the fees, I accept that– although after just listing all of that out, I am not sure I feel the same way anymore…

No, what I am trying to get a movement started on is the level of inconvenience a concert goer has to go through because Ticketmaster and Live Nation have such amazing control over the events that the consumer is the loser.  Here’s why:

General Public Ticket Sales

The old days of going to the venue and standing in line for hours, camping out for tickets– the experience of hunting for a ticket for a show has now moved from the venues to the internet!  Now we can order tickets from the comforts of home, we don’t have to stand in line, we just log into ticketmaster and we get…. Terrible seats.  We have all been there– the day the show goes on sale, we log in right at the very minute the tickets go on sale and BOOM…. No tickets match your search.  Try Again.

You try again.  And again.  And Again.

Or maybe you struck gold — and got tickets… where no one else wants tickets.  But, this is a hot ticket, so you better just buy these tickets because at least then, you know you will be going to the show, right?  Isn’t that all that REALLY MATTERS?  So you buy these kind of shitty seats because you know that if you want that good ticket, you would have to pay double or triple the price somewhere else and these tickets are already over a hundred bucks, right?

But then a couple weeks after they go on sale, you see that Ticketmaster or Live Nation “dropped” some additional tickets– so suddenly people are picking up better seats for the same prices that you bought your kind of shitty seats… But again, you are just glad you got into the venue..

But then it happens again.  And Again.  A dozen times at least between when the tickets went on sale and when the show is.  How could this happen?  Can you return your tickets?  NO.  Ticketmaster/Live Nation policy is very clear that if you bought a ticket, you can’t return it.  To make things easier for you, they have created StubHub, where you can go if you can’t make the show and sell your tickets– the great part about Stubhub is that the market bears the value of the tickets, so if your tickets are worth more than face value, you can sell them on StubHub and the purchase is guaranteed even!  Although I am sure some of you appreciate Ticketmaster and their creating basically their own legal scalper, but how it is legal is still beyond me…

..but that STILL isn’t where my complaint is centered!

My complaint is that Ticketmaster/Live Nation makes a good chunk of tickets available to the venue, to presales for “Premium Tickets”.  I wouldn’t complain if they did this and all of these blocks of tickets had to be sold before the General Public on sale date, but they don’t– which means that all of these “Premium Tickets”, which is essentially tickets being sold as a part of a “Premium Package” are sold at a higher ticket price that the exact same ticket is made available to the General Public.  Not only that, but whoever gets access to these tickets can return any tickets which they don’t sell before the show, hence where all the ticket “drops” come from– brokers dumping tickets they weren’t able to sell by their final sale date– they give them back to Ticketmaster and/or Live Nation and Live Nation drops them without notice.  Now TM/LN will tell you that they do this to cut down on BOTS grabbing the tickets, but BOTS don’t read their email to try to get tickets and crawl the site — BOTS are always trying to purchase tickets– they are constantly crawling and trying to troll for personal information or to buy tickets in premium areas.  This is where I think legally, something could be done — consumers are being mislead– the concept of “General Public Onsale” date leads the consumer to believe that all available tickets are being sold at the same time– but the fact is that TM/LN are hording piles of seats for brokers– so at the very least, the language around “General Public” should be clarified so that consumers aren’t wasting their time trying to get tickets for something when the majority of tickets have been spoken for.

In addition….

(and this is where I think I am going to really get somewhere with my complaint)

TM/LN create false demand for shows by using this method:  If you have a venue with 20k Seats, lets say 5k of those are better than the others.  Lets say another 5k are “General Admission” and the other 10k are in the middle.  25% of the venue is considered “Premium”– The venue gets between 5-10% for their own presales, if the band has a fan club, they get another 10%, Credit Cards get another 5%, so right there you have on the conservative side 20% of the venue with preblocked tickets.. so they cherry pick the tickets, leaving all of the secondary tickets now as the baseline for sale on General Suckers day.  This forces the majority of ticket holders to buy whatever tickets they can get their hands on and it successfully sells out those seats which normally dont sell until the last minute– but that should be illegal… Its similar to price fixing and should be regulated.  This is the source of my issue– no regulation in the ticketing industry and continually the people that get screwed are the consumers.

So that’s why I have a petition, which you should consider signing– we reached over 100 people tonight– so I wanted to lay everything out for everyone.  What are your thoughts?

Here is a copy of the petition:


Link to the Rolling Stone article is here: