Friday, October 8, 2010

Ticketmaster is Killing Live Music

Live music has been a victim of higher ticket prices and lower attendance for years. According to the NY Times, the first half of 2010 ticket sales have dropped by 17%. Big named artists have been canceling shows all summer long due the lack of ticket sales. Sure, you could blame the economy. The economy is an easy target. I don't, I blame Ticketmaster. In fact, I think Ticketmaster is killing live music.

Ticketmaster has had a reputation for hiking prices and charging ridiculous service charge fees since the early 1990's. Pearl Jam went as far as the U.S. Department of Justice to open an antitrust investigation into the company's practices to stop Ticketmaster's injustice to music fans. The investigation was ultimately dropped because, according to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, other competitors were entering the ticket industry, and there was a lack of evidence to proceed. The "other competitors" our "good friend" Mrs. Reno was speaking of secondary sellers such as TicketsNow inc and (I have a whole other bottle of hatred for ticket brokers, but I'll uncork that another time). Well, Ticketmaster decided to target the competition by merely absorbing it in 2008. They purchased the second-largest online ticket scalper TicketsNow Inc. for $265. Still not a monopoly Janet? Interesting. Last time I checked monopolies were illegal in America.

While reaping the benefits of no competition for primary ticket sales in America, Ticketmaster decided to make more money by pulling a "bait-and-switch" scam from 2008 - 2009. A Radiohead fan site reported the following in 2008:

For one of the first times since completing its acquisition of TicketsNow, Ticketmaster has begun scalping tickets by directing fans of a sold out show [that wasn't actually sold out] to its TicketsNow auctions. reveals that a source close to the situation, who requested anonymity, a TicketsNow executive helped assist with the sale of more than $1 million worth of Radiohead tickets on the TicketsNow website, which at a margin of 25 percent allowed TicketsNow to generate a gross of more than $250,000 from the deal.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged that Ticketmaster used this Web page to steer unknowing consumers to TicketsNow, where tickets were offered at much higher prices – in some cases double, triple, or quadruple the face value. Ticketmaster also displayed the same misleading Web page to consumers looking to buy tickets for many other events between October 2008 and February 2009, the agency charged. Thanks Ticketmaster. I love getting scammed out of my hard earned money.

Not only are they running illegal scams, their robbing us blind. Ticketmaster has been known for outrageous service charges for years. I recently purchased (2) Mumford and Sons (if you don't know who they are, you need to) tickets to their show in Minneapolis, here's a breakdown of their fees:

Ticket Price: $18.75 x 2
Facility Charge: $1.25 x 2
Convenience Charge: $5.90 x 2
Additional Taxes: $0.46 x 2
Order Processing Fee: $4.42

Total Price: $57.14

I paid $19.64 in fees for these tickets. That's 53% of the cost of the tickets! So, Ticketmaster deems it fair to charge me more than the price of a ticket in fees and send me 2 tickets in the mail. Pay for 3 and we'll send you 2! Awesome.

They do provide "free shipping", but they recommend you choose the "best" shipping method available called TicketFast for a mere $2.50.

*Stop and take a deep breath before you read on*

The $2.50 charge for the TicketFast option is to E-mail you your ticket so you can print it yourself. I cant make this up. Wow Ticketmaster. Shame on You.

I challenge anyone to try to justify these fees. Seriously, I dare ya.

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