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Ticketmaster - Rocking The Most Hated Brand In America
June 23, 2011 3:17 AM   Subscribe


 
Who better to repair something in need of help but the person to whom every flaw is glaringly visible as a contrast against what potential is inherent in an organization's ability to change how things are done in their little niche of their industry.
posted by infini at 3:58 AM on June 23, 2011


Interesting article and it would be good to see a less evil Ticketmaster, just can't shake the feeling that this was writing with a PR agent on the phone every step of the way.
posted by litleozy at 4:09 AM on June 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ticketmaster = parasites. The venues that take a cut of the jacked up service fees = also parasites.

No amount of fancy customer service initiatives and social media campaigns are going to change that.
posted by Summer at 4:11 AM on June 23, 2011


Interesting how after that whole long article, the closing anecdote is about the Prince concerts being mostly sold at $25 per ticket with no added fees and people being wowed and happy and grateful about that. It's like the takeaway message after all that hubbub is that tickets need to be cheaper and sold with a clear pricing scheme. Kind of the exact opposite of everything else in the article.
posted by hippybear at 4:22 AM on June 23, 2011


I can't see them turning it around. Even if Hubbard does manage to wrangle concessions out of the numerous vested interests of the old industry, there's only so far they'll go. After all, they've got a stake in the status quo, and nobody gives something up for nothing. So they'll fight over exactly how to rearrange the deckchairs and redouble their efforts to send out spin touting themselves as a shiny new-media organisation, and then Apple or Google or someone will come along and eat their lunch.

Here in Britain, there already are e-ticketing organisations which undercut Ticketbastard and its subsidiaries; one example is We Got Tickets, who operate entirely electronically.
posted by acb at 4:23 AM on June 23, 2011


Sorry, there's nothing cozy here. The world needs far, far less of this shit than wealthy apologists with guitars and black t-shirts.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:23 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here in Britain, there already are e-ticketing organisations which undercut Ticketbastard and its subsidiaries; one example is We Got Tickets, who operate entirely electronically.

Oh, there are plenty of alternatives springing up here in the US. My favorite is Brown Paper Tickets, which I've purchased through a few times now.
posted by hippybear at 4:30 AM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're the added value that nobody wants.
posted by scruss at 4:32 AM on June 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Brown Paper Tickets have an operation here, though they don't cover many events yet; I've bought tickets from them once.
posted by acb at 4:33 AM on June 23, 2011


veedubya: "Nathan Hubbard and his showstopper of a plan to rescue Ticketmaster's business and, for an encore, its dreadful reputation."

Why?
posted by dunkadunc at 4:38 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite Ticketmaster practice was the convenience charge for ordering online. They can go to hell an die.
posted by zzazazz at 5:00 AM on June 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now they start advertizing ticket prices that are all inclusive of the service and convenience and restoration and facility and parking and fee fees. So the simple minded amongst us will see a concert seat at $67.00 not realizing that it is a $40.00 ticket.
posted by Gungho at 5:10 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brown Paper Tickets for the win. Fifteen bucks to go see Mission of Burma. Mission of Burma.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:14 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to quip, "well, if they'd just add a cocksucking fee, I might be interested in their services sooner than never again", but knowing how they handle customer service .... So, no. Ticketmaster can die in a fire.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:17 AM on June 23, 2011


My favorite charge is the extra charge for delivering your tickets electronically. I think they wanted $1.50 a ticket, versus no extra charge for them to put the tickets in an envelope and mail them to you.
posted by COD at 5:18 AM on June 23, 2011


People still go to concerts?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:27 AM on June 23, 2011


All the competitors to TicketMaster in the US seems to still charge steep fees. They figure as long as they undercut TM, they will get the venue business. For instance, I bought two tix to a show ticketed by InTicketing, and two $35 tickets had $9 of fees on top, for an eTicket.
posted by smackfu at 5:29 AM on June 23, 2011


I think they wanted $1.50 a ticket, versus no extra charge for them to put the tickets in an envelope and mail them to you.

OTOH, allowing eTickets means every single ticket checker now needs a barcode scanner.
posted by smackfu at 5:30 AM on June 23, 2011


OTOH, allowing eTickets means every single ticket checker now needs a barcode scanner.

Or a printed list to cross people off (which is what WeGotTickets does).
posted by acb at 6:33 AM on June 23, 2011


Ticketmaster is the exclusive ticketing agent for the London 2012 Olympics. (Visa is the official credit card. You can only order tickets with a Visa card.) If you are lucky enough to have won the right to buy some tickets through the hysterically opaque lottery system, there is a compulsory delivery fee of £6 ($10).

Recorded signed-for first-class delivery via Royal Mail would cost £1.23.

Imagine a boot stamping &c.
posted by Hogshead at 6:42 AM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Modern concerts: First 15 rows are reserved for ticket giveaways, radio stations, press, etc. Good luck finding a good seat. Better have the number for "Hot Hits & Shitty DJs" FM on speed dial.

Rows 16-30 are presold. Don't ask how, they just are. By the time Ticket 1 goes on sale to the general public, the scalpers and resellers have already bought up these rows. If you want to sit there, expect to pony up 2 to 3 times the face price. Minimum.

The remaining seats on the floor? Probably available, if you get in early, but they're usually around $60 to $100.

Every other seat available is cheap cheap cheap! Only $25 per seat. Oh, you wanted an unobstructed view? Sorry, that's $40. But still cheaper than the floor!

And don't forget, every single seat comes with an added $30 in fees! We call 'em "convenience fees", because it's convenient for us that you're willing to hand us the money for no real reason.

For one person, you're looking at a minimum price of $55 plus parking for a show. OK, not too bad, but remember - you bring a date, it's $110. You want to see a band you've heard of before? $210 for two tickets. You want to see a really big name act? $300. Farewell concert? Forgetaboutit. You need to take out a second mortgage. PS - don't forget to buy some swag to show off to your friends that you attended, t-shirts are a STEAL at only $50 each!

--

Hate to sound all old and stuff, but there's a reason people don't go out to shows any more. You used to be able to see a band for a reasonable fee, pick up tickets at the door, take a group of friends, have a good time. Now, unless you have a pile of cash to burn for no reason, you can't justify the cost. I'd take my wife out to a show if we could do it for under $50 for two tickets. There was a time this was possible. But somehow, now that LiveNation owns the bands, the venues, and the ticketing sales, they STILL can't manage to get prices down and make anything off the gate fees. Gee I wonder why. They can get fucked and die, for all I care. I'll buy music from artists I like, but I'm not going to any shows any time soon. Every time I think about it, I get pissed at how much money I have to pay on top of the base ticket price just to get in the door.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:55 AM on June 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


And of all that money the act is likely to see only a significant portion of that from merch. So buy those $50 t-shirts and $25CDs, as long as it's the band's table you're doing it from.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:00 AM on June 23, 2011


I can't wait 'til that bastard is disintermediated.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:05 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or a printed list to cross people off (which is what WeGotTickets does).

Obviously there are scaling issues there. Do clubs that can print a list really use TicketMaster? That seems like overkill.
posted by smackfu at 7:17 AM on June 23, 2011


Hate to sound all old and stuff, but there's a reason people don't go out to shows any more. You used to be able to see a band for a reasonable fee, pick up tickets at the door, take a group of friends, have a good time.

Lawn seats.
posted by smackfu at 7:18 AM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hate to sound all old and stuff, but there's a reason people don't go out to shows any more.

Umm... Is that really true? Seems to me lots and lots of people are still going to concerts. I seem to recall Take That selling a million tickets in 24 hours last fall. So obviously, SOMEBODY is still willing to pay Ticketmaster's fees.
posted by antifuse at 7:19 AM on June 23, 2011


But for bands like Take That, there are a lot of fans who will shell out for them and for no one else. There are probably middle aged fans going to see Take That that haven't been to a show in years.

Me, I don't see why I should pay £60 - £100 for a big show or musical when I can see The Cherry Orchard with Zoe Wannamaker at the National Theatre for £12. Or Dr Faustus at the Globe for £5.
posted by Summer at 7:36 AM on June 23, 2011


Yeah, but at some level that's kind of what people miss:

1. Young people see new bands in small venues and don't pay much for tickets or fees.
2. Older people see established bands in large venues and then they complain about the ticket prices compared to when they were young.

Not apples to apples.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 AM on June 23, 2011


Or older people can learn to appreciate bands they didn't grow up with so that they can go to shows with a $10 cover and have a good time without once feeling the urge to scream "Get off my lawn."

It works for me.
posted by COD at 8:24 AM on June 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Amen to that, COD.
posted by scruss at 9:19 AM on June 23, 2011


There was an event I wanted to go to.
Ticket was $12.
Went to the ticketbastard site, and it was $16. I figured OK, that is their service charge.
Then 3 clicks in, they added a $4 convenience fee.
Then the charged me $30, because they automatically slid a "$10 event insurance" charge in to my cart without telling me.

Fuck them.
posted by Theta States at 9:56 AM on June 23, 2011


1. Young people see new bands in small venues and don't pay much for tickets or fees.

Yeah, this. I see a shit ton of concerts every year, and while I hate Ticketmaster with a passion, the bulk of the shows I see are at non-crazy venues and have tickets on Ticketfly, Ticketweb, Brown Paper Tickets, or just at the door. Even with service charges, it's usually under $15.

There seems to be a certain amount of confusion in both the article and this thread between "concerts" and "giant fucking arena shows." I literally can't remember the last time I saw an arena show - the only one I can think of was NIN at Madison Square Garden in 2000 though there has probably been one since then.
posted by miskatonic at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2011


The crummy thing is when you are in the 18-21 gap. You are in college, you are into cool music, and you can't get into any of the venues.
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on June 23, 2011


"Or Dr Faustus at the Globe for £5."

Wait. What? That play at that theatre for that little?

Oh wow, I just checked showtimes and I think I know one of the things I'll be doing on my trip. I had no idea the prices for the pit were so cheap.

As for Ticketbastard, no matter what they think they may be doing to help their business or *whatever*, I hope that they are all left out in the sun to have jackals feast on their innards. Convenience fee that, you bastards!
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:57 AM on June 23, 2011


The thing TicketMaster doesn't seem to get is that people buy stuff online all the time and the only added costs are shipping, which is sometimes free but if not is usually commensurate to the size and weight of the objects being mailed. It costs money to print tickets (at least 2 or 3 cents) but it costs money to print individual receipts and to box things up for shipping and even with all that overhead Amazon manages to undersell a lot of it's competition. If TicketMaster charged a dollar per ticket and postage, no one would complain but that wouldn't be enough money to let them maintain their strangle hold on venues and ticket sales, and that's the problem. TicketMaster see themselves as a service provider but the public doesn't see any of that service and the only reason the service is "required" is because TM has a lock on the market. So it feels like you're paying protection racket to get your tickets because, essentially, you are.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:29 PM on June 23, 2011


OTOH, allowing eTickets means every single ticket checker now needs a barcode scanner.

There's an app for that.
posted by steambadger at 12:46 PM on June 23, 2011


"Or Dr Faustus at the Globe for £5."

Wait. What? That play at that theatre for that little?


With Rory Pond as Mephistopheles, no less.
posted by Grangousier at 12:51 PM on June 23, 2011


Modern concerts: First 15 rows are reserved for ticket giveaways, radio stations, press, etc. Good luck finding a good seat. Better have the number for "Hot Hits & Shitty DJs" FM on speed dial.

Rows 16-30 are presold. Don't ask how, they just are. By the time Ticket 1 goes on sale to the general public, the scalpers and resellers have already bought up these rows. If you want to sit there, expect to pony up 2 to 3 times the face price. Minimum.

The remaining seats on the floor? Probably available, if you get in early, but they're usually around $60 to $100.


This varies so much from artist to artist and from tour to tour, it's really impossible to say this with any kind of authority as applying across the board.

Roger Waters The Wall -- presale tickets were done by lottery, people were getting front row tickets by purchasing them. There was no set-aside for radio stations, there were no scalpers.

Nine Inch Nails last few tours -- presale tickets were done through the band's website. Tickets came with purchaser's name printed on them and you had to show your ID at the door to get in, so scalpers were shit out of luck. Again, no set-asides.

NIN, U2, and a lot of other bands were doing general admission on the floor, standing only (no seats), and priced the GA tickets as among the cheapest in the venue.

Pearl Jam -- tickets generally are the same price for the entire venue, fan club ticket sales get the best seats in the house.

For a cancelled Barry Manilow show (dammit, cancelled, really?) I purchased 4th row tickets by going to the ticketing agency website. No 15 rows set aside, no scalper required.

It's entirely possible to get GREAT seats for shows. You have to be at the website WHEN the tickets go on sale and be willing to take what you get tossed. If you have a friend who can look at the website while colluding over the phone, it's even possible to have a bit of a choice for where you end up.

Another pro tip for getting good concert seats. Wait until about 4-6 hours after tickets go on sale and start hitting the website regularly. Tickets which are "purchased" by people who then have their credit card charges refused are generally re-released back into the pool for purchase after about that period of time, so it's often possible to get great seats at that point.
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on June 23, 2011


Agreed. The recent practice at arena shows of making half the floor a GA pit is really great. "True fans" can wait in line at the door for hours to get up front (and don't mind), while other pit-goers can hang in the back and still have relatively great seats. And most pit tickets are sold as will-call only so they are not easily scalpable.

OTOH, concerts that price every seat in the arena at the same price don't really work for me. If I don't buy a ticket on the on-sale date, my choices are to pay $35 for a second balcony seat, or I can pay a 50% markup on a $35 floor seat ticket on stubhub. I will buy the stubhub tickets anyday. It tends to undervalue floor seats, and overvalue crummy seats.
posted by smackfu at 3:46 PM on June 23, 2011


I go to lots of concerts, but I don't have a specific problem with Ticketmaster since there's lots of competition for them here. I usually only go to one Ticketmaster show a year.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:24 PM on June 23, 2011


OTOH, allowing eTickets means every single ticket checker now needs a barcode scanner.

There's an app for that.


... and that means that every single ticket checker needs a smartphone. It would seem a poor policy to require that every ticket checker own (and use) their own smartphone in order to check tickets.
posted by antifuse at 5:32 AM on June 24, 2011


Ticketbastard earned its reputation over decades of bad service, hidden fees, inflated prices, and creating a monopoly on ticket sales and venues. People hate them because they perceive that TB is evil. And TB has done nothing until recently to rebut that opinion.

Let's see what happens in a couple of years, show me that the new, improved TB doesn't deserve to be hated and I'll change my mind. But I doubt it.
posted by Not The Stig at 6:14 AM on June 24, 2011


Gee, I'm amazed how cheap concerts are where the posters I read are! We pay hundreds per ticket for top-name shows, in Zurich. Tomorrow, going to see Roger Waters, for the second time. Had VIP tickets (11th row) for his first Zurich show, then bought tickets off an auction to see it again.
posted by Goofyy at 7:39 AM on June 24, 2011


Goofyy: it all depends on the act and the venue, how much tickets are. They vary wildly even for the same artist on the same tour unless it's one of those giant acts with a 360 deal with Live Nation like U2. Indigo Girls tickets are shockingly variable in price even on consecutive shows.

That said, tickets in the Hannover Germany area were pretty cheap back in the mid-80s. I saw Eurythmics, Chris De Burgh, Falco, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood during the year I was there, and didn't pay more than (at the VERY highest) 30DM for any of those shows, I don't think. At the time, that would have been around or under $50/ticket.
posted by hippybear at 4:24 PM on June 24, 2011


Hippybear: Zurich is notorious for commanding high ticket prices, and folks here pay those prices. That's why we get all the best shows, as the artists actually make some money here. :-) But, I will say, Neil Young was considerably cheaper than Tina Turner (who lives here). But you'd not expect less of Neil, really, and Tina's show is an expensive production. I am incapable of judging Mr. Waters. His reputation is for loosing money on shows. I figure if he makes a bit back on a show, this time, he only deserves it. He's completely fantastic, and owns that stage. I hope they allow cameras tonight like that did for the first show here, as we're going packin' this time. I didn't take anything with me last time. Tonight, I'm shooting full HD with 106 degrees of wide-angle and stereo. At least, for the opening sequence with the fireworks. I'd record the entire show, if I had a safe place to mount my gorillapod, which is unlikely.
posted by Goofyy at 3:14 AM on June 25, 2011


Goofyy: for what it's worth, I hear that he's going to be filming his shows in Athens for a quality DVD release.

But yeah, they'll be allowing cameras. As long as you're not using flash and can shoot in the ambient light, you'll be fine. They've done that at every show on the tour.
posted by hippybear at 7:31 AM on June 25, 2011


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