damnum absque injuria

January 17, 2009

Ticketmaster: Mea (and They-a) Culpa?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 6:08 pm

I’ve bitched and moaned about Ticketmaster’s “convenience fees” for years, but this discussion has me wondering if I may have been attacking the wrong party. After all, they do provide a service for which they ought to be paid somehow. I’ve long assumed they were paid a reasonable commission on the tickets they sell, as are travel agents, insurance agents, and just about every other retail merchant under the sun, and that these odious “convenience” charges are sitting on top of that. But according to the linked article, it may not be Ticketmaster, but everyone else involved in the industry, who has been driving this ridiculous pricing model:

“We’ve been advocating for some time that the industry make the fan-friendly move to no-fee or all-in pricing, eliminating add-on fees,” [Ticketmaster President Sean Moriarty] Moriarty told a group of financial analysts and investors. “The reaction of fans has been overwhelmingly positive.”

An anonymous commenter claiming inside knowledge furthers this point:

The deal with Ticketmaster’s fees is that most of the money does not benefit Ticketmaster – it benefits the venue, the promoters, and other people in the food chain. The reason for the fees is because many artists have stated in their contracts that they get 100% of the face value of the ticket. Well, if the artist gets 100% of the face value of the ticket, what motivates anyone else to work? Certainly not for free.
So Ticketmaster gets “paid” by all the other industry folks to be the whipping boy – they take the hit for collecting the fee, but then are responsible for dividing up that fee to all the interested parties. TM of course collects its own fee.
The thing is, Ticketmaster HATES doing business this way, but it has been required to do it this way for so long because of arcane music industry rules. They have been asking artists to change their ways for YEARS but everyone else in the industry would rather the consumer hate the Ticketmaster corp and not the venue or the radio station.
With Irving Azoff, Ticketmaster finally has some leverage to say, hey, let’s do this the RIGHT WAY and keep our internal fees and costs behind the scenes. You hate it when the phone company adds stupid charges and airlines do the same thing, and now even hotels have a “resort fee” – how stupid is that? So Ticketmaster is finally able to get its way.

If he’s right, I owe a big apology to Ticketmaster and a correspondingly large f-you to everyone else in the entertainment industry. Regardless of who’s at fault, let’s hope common sense prevails, and that we soon reach the point where the price you hear about in an ad is indeed the price you can expect to pay for a ticket, whether online, on the phone, or anywhere else.

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