Promoting a live performance ticket ought to be straightforward. At its essence, a ticket is a contract between you and a promoter that permits you entry to a particular venue at a acknowledged date and time to see a efficiency. In different phrases, it’s a factor you purchase to get you within the door. But promoting and shopping for live performance tickets is likely one of the most opaque client experiences within the recognized universe.

Misinformation, frustration, and ignorance about how the system works — and must work — have created a state of affairs the place followers and governments are fed up and wish one thing finished about it. Good luck with that.

The newest salvo is an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Division of Justice in opposition to Reside Nation, the proprietor of Ticketmaster, accusing the corporate of being imply, monopolistic and utilizing unlawful techniques to stifle competitors. (Reside Nation’s response to the lawsuit might be discovered on

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On the coronary heart of the lawsuit are 4 foremost issues:

  1. Reside Nation is simply too massive and too highly effective. It acquired that method by utilizing Ticketmaster and a collection of unique ticketing contracts with venues.
  2. Reside Nation has an unfair benefit over rivals due to its management of excursions and the 250+ venues it owns.
  3. These situations allowed Reside Nation to keep up a de facto monopoly over the ticketing enterprise, permitting it to boost costs and charges.
  4. Ticketmaster’s dominance limits innovation within the ticketing trade, harming would-be rivals and driving up costs.

Reside Nation is actually very, very massive, due to the 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, one thing that was accepted by the US Authorities. Final 12 months alone, the corporate promoted 50,059 exhibits globally, a brand new document. Ticketmaster sells about 500 million tickets a 12 months, and about 70 per cent of all tickets offered to main live performance venues are processed by Ticketmaster, in line with knowledge in a federal lawsuit filed by customers in 2022.

And sure, the value of tickets has skyrocketed in recent times. And there’s no query the added charges and repair fees are annoying. However breaking apart Reside Nation isn’t going to vary any of that.

Earlier than you name me a Reside Nation/Ticketmaster apologist, let’s have a look at some chilly, onerous, irrefutable info about live performance tickets. You could not like what you’re about to learn, however that is the real-world state of affairs.

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First, when setting the value of a live performance ticket, the buck at all times stops with the artist. An artist’s supervisor and agent will strategy Reside Nation (or any promoter for that matter) and say, “We wish to go on tour. Our prices are projected to be X and we’d prefer to make a revenue of Y. What number of tickets do we have to promote at what worth in what number of cities to make that occur?”

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Reside Nation then plugs every thing right into a spreadsheet and comes up with a break-even quantity after which tiers of ticket costs that may make the tour worthwhile for the artist. Prices and expectations are adjusted earlier than the artist indicators off. Once more the singer/band has the ultimate say on how a lot tickets will value at face worth.

As soon as that’s labored out, Ticketmaster is used to promote the tickets. It provides a charge (normally a share of the face worth), which covers all its prices (consider the infrastructure and expertise required!) and permits it to make a revenue. Ticketmaster is, in spite of everything, a enterprise unto itself. And apart from the odd glitch — hey, each website goes down on occasion as a result of no expertise is ideal — Ticketmaster is superb at promoting tickets. Given the quantity it offers with 24/7/365, nobody does it higher.

What concerning the venue or facility charge? This cash covers the prices incurred by the venue (electrical energy, safety, and many others.) and to make a little bit of a revenue. These charges make it economically doable for a constructing to host a live performance. No charges, no exhibits. Would you do all the mandatory work totally free?

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Having these charges separate from the face worth of the live performance ticket makes the act look good. It makes them seem that they’re on the facet of the followers and massive, dangerous Ticketmaster and Reside Nation are answerable for any monetary ache on the a part of the fan. And when one thing goes fallacious — keep in mind the Taylor Swift Eras Tour debacle? — the blame falls on Ticketmaster and Reside Nation and never the act.

There have been calls for for all-in pricing. Not that way back, airways used to promote fares that appeared insanely low as a result of they didn’t embody all of the taxes and repair fees. By the point you bought your ticket, it may have been twice the marketed worth. Now not. Airways should give travellers the true worth of the ticket with every thing baked in. Within the music world, many artists have balked at this as a result of they wish to make it seem like the excessive worth of the ticket isn’t their fault.

What about Ticketmaster’s unique contracts (usually 5 years or so in size) with venues? This isn’t a lot completely different than a venue signing unique pouring rights with a brewery or a comfortable drink firm. Margins might be so skinny that venues need actually and stability from their suppliers. Ticketmaster is simply one other provider.

What about Reside Nation’s vertical construction? Reside Nation books and promotes the exhibits that are offered by its Ticketmaster subsidiary with some gigs occurring in Reside Nation-owned venues. On the floor, that does look fairly monopolistic. However it’s additionally extremely environment friendly. If every thing is finished in-house, you may maintain prices decrease.

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And once more, neither Reside Nation nor Ticketmaster set the face worth of the live performance ticket. And since many artists are given a assured per-show payout by Reside Nation, the promoter assumes all the chance in relation to placing bums in seats, the price of working Ticketmaster to promote tickets, and, within the circumstances the place it owns the amphitheatre, membership, or theatre, to eke out a revenue for these buildings.

Did I point out that the artist has the final word sign-off on the value of tickets? I did? Simply wish to be certain that.

So let’s say that the DOJ orders that Reside Nation be damaged up. Ticketmaster must be offered off. It’s even doable that Reside Nation may should promote its stake within the venues it owns. Then what?

We may return to the outdated days of a number of nationwide or regional promoters bidding on exhibits. The quickest technique to achieve an act’s consideration is to supply the biggest assure. The successful promoter will then be beneath monetary strain to cowl prices. The one method to do this is to elucidate to the artist that they should cost extra per ticket if they need that massive assure. Ticket costs will go up, not down.

Reside Nation is engaging to artists as a result of it’s a one-stop-shop nationally and internationally. Certain, they may go together with one other promoter, however can they provide the identical phrases and performance-fee ensures? Possibly, however I’d guessing not. Ticketmaster has a number of income streams like sponsorships that assist defray prices and to spice up ensures.

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Different firms could wish to tackle Ticketmaster. Go proper forward. Innovation by competitors is at all times good. However changing into a competitor to Ticketmaster would require billions in funding in software program, infrastructure, and promotion/advertising of the brand new entity, all in an effort to get right into a low-margin enterprise. They will even have to attend out any exclusivity contracts Ticketmaster presently has in place with venues. When contracts come up, there’ll inevitably be bidding wars, the value of which will probably be handed on to the patron by greater facility charges. Once more, this may trigger ticket costs to go up.

Sure, it’s doable that an ordered breakup of Reside Nation will assist different promoters and would-be ticket sellers. Any “monopolistic practices” will probably be quashed, which can be good for the ticketing trade. Possibly customer support — at all times a bugaboo with Ticketmaster — will enhance. Maybe somebody will provide you with one other technique to simplify pricing that doesn’t require new legal guidelines being handed. Somebody may provide you with a technique to successfully police the resale of tickets.

However who may purchase Ticketmaster? The price could be very, very excessive, so it’s most likely a play by an fairness fund or another Wall Road building.

And can this deal with the rising value of live performance tickets? No. Will this remedy the issue of 1,000,000 individuals making an attempt to purchase 100,000 out there tickets leading to prompt sellouts? No. Will it deal with bigger financial points like inflation and the rising prices of staging a tour? No. Will followers’ unrealistic expectations (calls for!) of shopping for seat to a prime act for 50 bucks be realized? No.

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What would be the benefit of a Reside Nation breakup to the patron?

I can’t see any. Not one.

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for World Information.

Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing Historical past of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play

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