We’ve all been there; You’re in your sweats on a Saturday morning waiting by your computer to buy tickets on TicketMaster to your favorite artists’ next tour. You’re finally in the queue and manage to grab a lower bowl seat. But…Oh no. Your soul almost leaves your body as you see the final price. The service fees are almost as much as the ticket itself!
The State Of The Market
The live entertainment business is a delicate collaboration between a myriad of corporate bodies (think labels, venues, promoters) and ticketing services (Think TicketMaster/StubHub). When that balance is disrupted, prices in primary and secondary markets soar resulting in less overall marketplace freedom for the consumer. Further, while there are many independent concert promoters and ticketing companies, the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster has given the brand 70% control of ticketing and live event venue markets. While this kind of horizontal integration may be commonplace in our current economic landscape, the current digital ticketing marketplace has developed into a hellscape of second-screen price gouging and timed-out requests.
Today, fans can only buy tickets from a small group of companies, leaving them with little means to find a reasonable deal while large corporations like Live Nation Entertainment put more money in their pockets. This leaves fans with only a few rather distressing choices: pay hiked-up prices for primary tickets, pay even more outrageous prices on ticketing resale sites, or don’t go to the gig at all. There are no real “face value” tickets in existence anymore, and with dynamic pricing, hidden fees, and scalpers ever-looming: fans can’t win.
Change On The Horizon?
The current landscape of hidden fees and rampant corporate greed has not gone unnoticed by any small measure. In fact, President Joe Biden recently called for companies to change their ways, deeming them “unfair” and highlighting how they impact primarily marginalized communities. One would hope this call to action would invoke change or insight the President’s constituents to act. Until then, TicketMaster will likely continue to implement hidden fees.
In more recent news, Taylor Swift fans took a massive hit as a result of TicketMaster outages. Fans signed up for “Verified Fan” presale. Some got codes, many did not. When it was time for purchase, the codes either didn’t work or the site crashed. Scalpers got ahead of fans and are now reselling tickets at upwards of $12,000. This massive oversight on behalf of TicketMaster has been seen by many as the last straw, with consumers beginning to band together, and take matters into their own hands.
Unfortunately, large bodies controlling more than they should is commonplace in music. Universal Music, Sony, and Warner make up the “big three” of labels that have dominated since Elvis was still squeezing into tight leather. With a history that long, and catalog so expansive, few things outside of government intervention will rock the boat. The same might be said for TicketMaster and the current live music infrastructure. With companies so powerful controlling various industries throughout the world, It’s easy to chalk it all up as the way things are.
So what do you do? How do you get tickets to your favorite artists’ shows? While we would advise staying away from Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” presales, which is often riddled with scalpers, not all hope is lost! Fans can still purchase tickets by getting more involved with the artists they care about. If you’re a regular Spotify streamer you may qualify for a given artist’s Spotify presale, and if you keep up an eye on socials, artists are often promoting shows and selling tickets in ways that benefit their core fanbase.