Anyone who regularly buys concert tickets knows how steep the fees are when buying from Ticketmaster or Live Nation—as well as how customers feel about those fees. Ever since Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, folks have been claiming that the conglomerate holds an unfair monopoly over the industry. Now, Ticketmaster is hoping to repair their reputation by providing more transparency over those fees.
According to Billboard, the company plans to provide more information both to the public and the government about the reason for these fees, so that people will understand why the prices are so high.
One of the main gripes people have about Ticketmaster and Live Nation is that fees can add over 30 percent to the final price of the ticket.
Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino attempts to explain this, saying:
“We’ve got to now go out and do a much better job so policymakers and consumers understand how the business operates. We’ve historically not had a big incentive to shout out loud that venues are charging high service fees or artist costs are expensive. But I think now [that] education is paramount.”
Ticketmaster makes their money from the fees on the transactions, since the ticket money itself goes to the artist. The fees are also shared out with the venues hosting the concerts. This usually ends up with Ticketmaster keeping $2 to $5 from each transaction to cover processing costs and recoup loans, advances or bonuses paid to the venue to win the ticketing contract. And of course, promoters often get a cut of the show money, so it doesn’t always all go the artist.
Rapino explained, “The artist takes most of that ticket fee base. So the way that the venue, the promoter or the ticketing company [earns its] revenue fees is through that extra fee.”
Ticketmaster realizes that the fees are still steep and frustrating, whatever the reason, so they are also trying to show transparency by showing the total cost of the ticket at the beginning of the purchase process instead of right before checkout. They are legally mandated to do this in the state of New York, and would like to implement that policy elsewhere.
“We all want to know what is the true cost to see the show when we start shopping,” Rapino says. “We wish that would be mandated tomorrow across the board [because] that would relieve a lot of the stress [and] the consumer’s perception that there’s this magical extra fee added on.”
Ticketmaster are also backing the FAIR Ticketing Act, an act that targets scalping websites as well as “drip pricing”—the opposite of price transparency, where the initial number shared with those purchasing is much lower than the final price. The company hopes that by backing this act, they can prove they are truly not trying to take advantage of consumers.
Of course, there are those who argue that without all the trappings of late-stage capitalism—the third-party ticketing companies, vendor fees, and these companies controlling most of the venues where artists perform—tickets could be more affordable, and more money would still go to the bands. But that speaks to a larger systemic issue that can’t necessarily be fixed by one company.
While Ticketmaster is definitely going to great lengths to repair their image, it remains to be seen whether these efforts will get them into anyone’s good graces, or if folks will continue to be frustrated with the systems and processes.
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