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August 25, 2010 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Reznor got angry, Springsteen got angry, everyone is angry....so Ticketmaster finally responds. But will anything really change?
posted by mikoroshi (108 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The fee I hate the most is the online "convenience fee." I was recently charge $7.50 (I think) to be allowed to print off my own ticket.

I seldom go to shows anymore, but when I do I try to avoid ticketmaster at all costs. They leave me feeling dirty.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


Ok so where is Mr. CEO's breakdown of exactly what the fees are for so that we can see this transparency he's talking about. This transparency, it looks opaque-y to me.
posted by spicynuts at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


So basically instead of thinking I'll be paying 30 dollars for the Hold Steady (or whatever), they'll just tell me straight up that it's going to be a 40+ dollar show. Super!

But the reality of the live entertainment business is that service fees have become an extension of the ticket price


To paraphrase Ian Mackaye from an interview (I think it was Sound of Young America), there's just too many people that want a fucking piece of the pie. I think that's the reality of the entertainment industry, and everyone who isn't making or producing music, or directly running a venue, needs to leave.
posted by windbox at 9:38 AM on August 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


I don't go to shows that I have to use Ticketmaster for. Period. Usually I email the musicians I have to skip out on seeing and let them know why I didn't buy a ticket for their show, and that I would have if I didn't have to use Ticketmaster. I expect it doesn't do anything, but it makes me feel better.
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 9:38 AM on August 25, 2010 [17 favorites]


I go to a lot of concerts. If I realize a show I want to see is a TicketMaster show, I prefer to drag my ass down to the venue rather than deal with them over the Internet. Although, to their credit, they do have a pretty good system in place if you lose your ticket. Six years ago you were SOL, but now they let you show up with your credit card and ID to claim them, if you're patient enough to wait 20 minutes on hold to speak to someone to arrange this. Does anyone know if Einsturzende Neubauten have toured the States since 2005, by the way? I saw them play NYC then and Blixa swore he would never tour the US again if he had to go through TicketMaster to do so.

You don’t like them mostly because you don’t understand what the heck they are for.

If you're going to make assumptions about the levels of my ignorance, at least do it with proper grammar. Also, "heck"? Is "Nathan, CEO - Ticketmaster" asking his kids' Sunday School teacher to ghostwrite his press releases?

And our data tells us this angers many of you to the point that you abandon your purchase once you see the total cost, and that you don’t come back.

"Jesus Christ, Tim, the angerometer is off the chart." "Oh, sorry, I forgot to recalibrate it after that Hardcore festival."

We are the leader in the industry, and so we are accountable for taking the initiative to drive industry change.

...which is why we're the last company on the Web to institute this change.
posted by griphus at 9:41 AM on August 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


The fees are:

$0.50 for the Budweiser Mansion fund
$0.20 for "Fire Department" money
$0.10 for lighting equipment
$0.02 for sound equipment
$1.00 for flamboyant security uniforms
$5.00 for Ticketmaster CEOs
$0.80 for streamers and balloons
$0.40 for gas
$0.01 for pizza and Sprite
$1.00 for lobbyist massages
posted by swift at 9:45 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hmm, I wonder how much this transparency is going to add to the costs of the tickets.
posted by quin at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2010 [28 favorites]


I don't go to shows that I have to use Ticketmaster for. Period. Usually I email the musicians I have to skip out on seeing and let them know why I didn't buy a ticket for their show, and that I would have if I didn't have to use Ticketmaster. I expect it doesn't do anything, but it makes me feel better.

Unfortunately, that artists seldom have much choice. Ticketmaster has exclusive agreements with most of the desirable venues across the US.

If you recall, back in the 90's, at the peak of their popularity, Pearl Jam tried to do an end run around Ticketmaster, and it didn't work out so well. From their wikipedia page:
Pearl Jam's initiative to play only at non-Ticketmaster venues effectively, with a few exceptions, prevented it from playing shows in the United States for the next three years. Ament later said, "We were so hardheaded about the 1995 tour. Had to prove we could tour on our own, and it pretty much killed us, killed our career."
posted by aerosolkid at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I always thought was shady was what they did with Reznor and Springsteen, saving tickets for LiveNation so LiveNation can mark them up and sell them higher.

I get that artists aren't making much money on their CDs anymore and touring is a way to boost their income, but so many people have their hands in the pie, it's just getting too expensive to go to a concert anymore.
posted by NoraCharles at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2010


Sigh. those artists seldom have much choice.
posted by aerosolkid at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2010


And good luck with catching up to Zappos in customer service.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


The only change is presentational. You know how much you're getting stiffed for upfront. Which will just lead to new acceptance of high prices, because there's no surprise element anymore - you expect to pay $X, you pay $X.

What it doesn't do is tell you why $X is so damn high. The closest he comes to it is this:
Most of the parties in the live event value chain participate in these service fees either directly or indirectly
Which translates to: there are fees because there are fees. I think he knows: if people want tickets, they have to use Ticketmaster. So they can charge fees, and everything else is just window dressing to reduce anger/negative publicity so that people don't start demanding change.
posted by djgh at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ticketmaster is just pure fucking graft. They're scoundrels.

Who in god's name dislikes their fees only because "don't understand what the heck they are for?"

20% goes to the ass-raping department; 30% goes to R&D for the shake-down division; 15% goes to a subsidiary organized to make people hate music; 10% goes to the military-industrial complex for development of nerve gas that kills kittens; and the rest goes to promoting Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus concerts.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:51 AM on August 25, 2010 [71 favorites]


I get that artists aren't making much money on their CDs anymore and touring is a way to boost their income, but so many people have their hands in the pie, it's just getting too expensive to go to a concert anymore.

Depends on the the artists. The most expensive show I've ever gone to was the Magnetic Fields, which cost me a clean $50. All other shows I've seen -- and I see about 25 a year -- ceilinged at about $25, fees included.
posted by griphus at 9:51 AM on August 25, 2010


I seldom go to shows anymore

Todd Barry would do a bit on how Ticketmaster gets greedy by charging him $100 for a bad concert ticket. After he declined, they'd offer to charge him $20 to stay at home.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 AM on August 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wow, Trent Reznor's essay is really, really good. As are the ideas he put in place to get a better deal for his fans.

I volunteer at a non-profit theatre and we put names on tickets. We're a 100-seat theater so scalping isn't really an issue for us but I never thought about how that method completely eliminates scalping, and how Ticketmaster clearly doesn't want to do it.

And the "we're the leader in the industry" line is hilarious horseshit. They are the industry. They own the goddamn venues. Everything this company does is because they're a monopoly.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:54 AM on August 25, 2010


"And to think, Smithers: You LAUGHED when I bought TicketMaster! 'Nooooobody's going to pay a 100% service charge!'"

"It's a policy that ensures a healthy mix of the rich and the ignorant, sir."
posted by Gator at 9:57 AM on August 25, 2010 [22 favorites]


I went to a Ticketmaster show last month at MSG where all the floor seat tickets were will-call, and the ticets were printed on-demand at the gate after they ran your credit card. Nice solution to scalping.

(I'm not actually against scalping though. A lot of smaller bands will price every seat in an arena at the same price, even though some seats are far better than others. Why wouldn't I pay a 50% markup for the floor seat to someone instead of buying a seat in the upper deck where I barely see the band?)
posted by smackfu at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2010


I'm pitching a movie idea where Ticketmaster headquarters burns down with no survivors. It's a heartwarming comedy.
posted by mullingitover at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2010 [19 favorites]


Ticketmaster may be the purest example of monopoly rent seeking in all of recorded history.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


10% goes to the military-industrial complex for development of nerve gas that kills kittens; and the rest goes to promoting Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus concerts.

You're positive those are unrelated?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2010


Ticketmaster just charged me three bucks for reading this thread. Luckily I didn't print it - that would have been an extra $2.50.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2010 [7 favorites]



To retweet @cockerham...

"There'd be no Ticketmaster without Ticketslaves."
posted by Widepath at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Now if Trent and Bruce can do something about airlines not showing their fees until you're well into the checkout process.

And our data tells us this angers many of you to the point that you abandon your purchase once you see the total cost, and that you don’t come back.

On some airline sites, I'll get an email with $99 flights to NYC! and only after getting to the checkout screen I learn it doesn't include the $90 in bullshit fees, taxes and surcharges (and now luggage fees). If the flight is going to cost me $200 tell me that up front.

It isn't that hard to understand. People want to know how much shit will cost and don't like "value" disguised by hiding the true charge (New car only $4,000, but you'll need to buy the mandatory convenience package of engine, brakes, seats, doors for $16,000). If it is going to cost me $50 to see as show tell me that! Not that is $25. I don't care how that charge is broken out just tell me how much you want me to pay and I'll decide if it is worth it.
posted by birdherder at 10:03 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Swift: Let's not forget the $1.00 fee for transparency.
posted by Mercaptan at 10:05 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ideally, ticket services should be run as a non-profit. I don't see why a web service that lets me get tickets needs to be a business on its own. I'm already paying several markups on the base price of the ticket. We don't need another middle-man. Its a solved problem.

I've also read that Ticketmaster's deals are very sweet for the venue owners. They get some of those fees too. Its a dirty situation all around for what is a service that is essentially a basic database lookup and credit card processing web app. It may be change isn't happening because venue owners like the status quo and the opinions of fans and bands don't matter as they need these big venues to perform.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is particularly frustrating to me as just this past week I got excited to see a show at a local venue -- "$26 advance, $28 day of show!" -- I thought, hey, they're a pretty good band, that's a fair price, I'll pay it.

So I get referred over to TM and suddenly my $26 ticket is now $41. FIFTEEN DOLLARS of a $26 ticket so that I can cover TM's overhead?

Fuckit, I say, I'll go down to the damned venue and buy it at the B.O.

This is the part where the show sold out while I was fumingincredulously about the fifteen dollars and will miss the show.

AGHRGHgogHGh..
posted by cavalier at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ticketmaster CEO: "Boy, wouldn't it be convenient if we could charge people more who save us money by purchasing tickets ahead of time online? But what could we call the fee..."

The Northampton, MA area venues are their own little mini-wannabe ticketmaster monopoly, all owned by the Iron Horse Entertainment Group. They charge a $3 convenience fee if you buy online... or from their box office. Everything is so convenient!
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2010


Ok here's the most interesting part of Reznor's rant:

the true market value of some tickets for some concerts is much higher than what the act wants to be perceived as charging. For example, there are some people who would be willing to pay $1,000 and up to be in the best seats for various shows, but MOST acts in the rock / pop world don’t want to come off as greedy pricks asking that much, even though the market says its value is that high. The acts know this, the venue knows this, the promoters know this, the ticketing company knows this and the scalpers really know this. So…

So essentially what they are saying is that capitalism, were it allowed to work, would enable these bands to make more money because there is actually a market for exclusive seats. But because being perceived as 'capitalists' instead of some as anti-establishiment, defender of the proletariet heroes would destroy the larger profit that comes from the volume of deluded suckers that think "no way would my heroes sell out" and swallow the pose hook line and sinker, the bands are complicit in some kind of bait and switch shit. Why can't fans just own up and admit they are buying a friggin product and if some people want to pay 40 million dollars to sit close enough to see if Trent Reznor shaves his nuts, well THAT'S AMERICA LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! I mean, nobody calls their panties in a twist because Spike Lee gets to pay 40,000 dollars a year for front row Knicks tickets.
posted by spicynuts at 10:14 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, every alternative ticketing system immediately dumps on the fees. $3 order processing fee on top of a $30 ticket so they can charge my credit card and put a ticket in an envelope? Whatever.
posted by smackfu at 10:15 AM on August 25, 2010


Transparency fee: $5.00
posted by chairface at 10:17 AM on August 25, 2010


It isn't that hard to understand. People want to know how much shit will cost and don't like "value" disguised by hiding the true charge

Asking for total cost upfront is like asking for honesty from politicians: you want it, but if you get it, you're not going to want what's on offer much of the time. In both cases, they've learned that lesson well.

I've loved spending time in places where tax is factored into prices. There's no reason not to do this. Except, of course, that it probably does result in a slight decrease in spending. They're not wrong about this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2010


Me I prefer a 5 bucks cash and a hand stamp type venue anyways. It's more fun and the beer's better.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


Reading about all of this Ticketmaster bullshit definitely takes some of the sting out of being too old to want to bother with going to shows. So there's that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:22 AM on August 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


In a way, Ticketmaster are just really poor businesspeople. If they were doing their jobs correctly, they'd require contract terms with the venues that hide the extra fees in the price of the ticket. The fans would still be paying them but they wouldn't be exposed to the price breakdown. This is exactly what credit cards do: they charge the businesses a certain fee for each transaction, but the business isn't allowed to reveal to the customer exactly what part of the price is going toward credit card fees. If they did we'd be loathing Visa just as much.
posted by mullingitover at 10:23 AM on August 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


As technology gets more advanced, the value this company adds is going to go down and down and down and fewer bands and venues are going to use them.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:32 AM on August 25, 2010


FUCK TICKETMASTER. They love to charge all these fees but the second something goes wrong, they claim it has nothing to do with them. FUCK THEM IN THEIR FUCKING FACES. A lot of us had to reverse the charges on our credit cards for the linked event cos it was the only way we could get a refund.
posted by jcruelty at 10:32 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


By the way, another little aspect of the theater I work at:

We charge $2.00 less if you buy your ticket online. A $13.00 ticket is $15.00 at the door because for us, having to take care of everything manually is the harder job. It's an inconvenience fee.

That's why TicketMaster charging you for an online sale is so fucking infuriating. They're charging you extra to save shitloads of money versus hiring people.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:33 AM on August 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


mullingitover, a local coffeshop posts a list of their credit card transaction fees on the bathroom door every month, to "encourage" patrons to use cash. Seems kind of passive aggressive. But the fees are ridiculous.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2010


Me I prefer a 5 bucks cash and a hand stamp type venue anyways. It's more fun and the beer's better.

If a teenager hasn't drawn a magic-marker penis on the back of my hand to prove I paid my five bucks, I'm not interested.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


In a way, Ticketmaster are just really poor businesspeople. If they were doing their jobs correctly, they'd require contract terms with the venues that hide the extra fees in the price of the ticket.

But they're also bad with naming their fees. If they named the "order processing charge" and "print-at-home fees" something like "costs of running a business with real people and stuff fees" and "people pushing buttons and running on treadmills to keep computers working fees." Or keep it simple, and clarify "it still costs money to maintain computers if you don't talk to anyone."

Now if Trent and Bruce can do something about airlines not showing their fees until you're well into the checkout process.

Kayak.com and some other aggregator sites do a good job compiling all the fees, and Kayak has a nice list of other airline fees, for baggage, food, etc. Ignore the prices pitched directly by airlines.

posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR - or a mortgage company charging you $5 to "go green" and pay online instead of by check.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This stuff really pours a long glass of rageohol for me.

Local DIY shows are still where it's at. Folks onstage are people you know (or could, if you said hi afterwards). You get to support local music and struggling venues. It's cheap. You can get a good seat (or place to stand at least), and often the show's better anyhow.

Tickmaster can go suck it.
posted by Erroneous at 10:37 AM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


As technology gets more advanced, the value this company adds is going to go down and down and down and fewer bands and venues are going to use them.

Except TicketMaster serves as handy aggregation, beyond managing the ticket-selling side of things (which probably saves venues the cost of having people available at all hours to take orders, or setting up and managing their own electronic ticketing system, including IT who would help harden systems against hackers and the like).

The smartest thing would be for someone to offer services directly to venues to manage their web sales interface and back-end, hiding the fact that there's a 3rd party involved between the hopeful audience and the venue, but not get involved with the . That way, prices are factored in, tech support could be centralized and not dedicated to one location, and Ticketmaster would go away. Or Stay out of ticket management and leave that to the venues, or the band. Anyone want to work on a startup?
posted by filthy light thief at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2010


Hey guys, Ticketmaster now owns pretty much owns most of the venues. Just to keep the discussion focused. They are both the ticket broker and the promoter for the shows. Ticketmaster + Live Nation + House of Blues = same company.
posted by cavalier at 10:46 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forgive my ignorance of the business of putting on events but in 2010 what exactly is the service that Ticketmaster provides that a typical venue couldn't easily perform on their own on their website?
posted by ghharr at 10:48 AM on August 25, 2010


Recently saw a show with the Mrs. and two friends. We each had to pay a parking fee as part of the ticket price, even though we took one car.

Fuck Ticketmaster.
posted by ryoshu at 10:50 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


2010 what exactly is the service that Ticketmaster provides that a typical venue couldn't easily perform on their own on their website?

Ticketmaster saw this coming and bought the rights to book and sell the typical venue.
posted by cavalier at 10:51 AM on August 25, 2010


Tell the Department of Justice to block the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger
posted by jcruelty at 10:56 AM on August 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


filthy light thief: "That way, prices are factored in, tech support could be centralized and not dedicated to one location, and Ticketmaster would go away. Or Stay out of ticket management and leave that to the venues, or the band. Anyone want to work on a startup?"

Headline from the year 2015: "Ticketmaster Announces Merger With Filthy Light Thief's Awesome Electronic Ticket Service"

gottabefunky: "mullingitover, a local coffeshop posts a list of their credit card transaction fees on the bathroom door every month, to "encourage" patrons to use cash. Seems kind of passive aggressive. But the fees are ridiculous."

They're in breach of their contract by doing this, and if anyone reported them to the credit card company they could lose their ability to process credit cards. A lot of smaller stores have a minimum transaction for processing credit and debit cards, or explicit credit card fees, and they're all in violation of their contract.

Personally I think the government should be operating some kind of zero-fee electronic transaction system.
posted by mullingitover at 10:57 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey guys, Ticketmaster now owns pretty much owns most of the venues. Just to keep the discussion focused. They are both the ticket broker and the promoter for the shows. Ticketmaster + Live Nation + House of Blues = same company.

Ding,ding,ding! We have a winner!

This is the problem in a nutshell. America pays lip service to competition, but this is what we actually get. When's the last time anybody here heard of a major merger proposal being rejected by the government? Doesn't happen, no matter what the law says.

TV stations can buy radio stations can buy newspapers can buy magazines. Pharmaceutical giants can buy pharmaceutical giants. Insurance and bank conglomerates can buy their brethren. Fuck, federally broken-up phone companies can buy each other back.

Wonder why nobody can afford anything any more?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:58 AM on August 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Me I prefer a 5 bucks cash and a hand stamp type venue anyways. It's more fun and the beer's better.

If a teenager hasn't drawn a magic-marker penis on the back of my hand to prove I paid my five bucks, I'm not interested.

"Why does that kid have a black ‘X’ on the back of his right hand?”
posted by griphus at 10:59 AM on August 25, 2010


Ticketmaster is just pure fucking graft. They're scoundrels.

Turning point for me was a local charity event, various bands playing. Tickets cost 20 odd bucks with all proceeds going directly to the charity (no cut for the venue though they did get to keep their booze sales)

+

12 or 15 bucks to Ticketmaster ... so basically, one-third of what the ticket actually cost went to these gentlemen (and women).
posted by philip-random at 11:13 AM on August 25, 2010


"Why does that kid have a black ‘X’ on the back of his right hand?”

I figured it was because he wasn't 21 yet. ;)
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:35 AM on August 25, 2010


From the "responds" link: service fee rebates are our largest annual expense at Ticketmaster

*cough*KICKBACKS*cough*

In other words, it appears that Ticketmaster is paying people to agree to sell tickets through them. Those rebates sure aren't going to consumers.
posted by exogenous at 11:39 AM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


2010 what exactly is the service that Ticketmaster provides that a typical venue couldn't easily perform on their own on their website?

Well, not crash under the load that they get for that five minute window after the tickets go on sale. You have a lot more faith in venue's websites than I think is deserved.
posted by smackfu at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I made it about halfway through this thread and couldn't help wondering the entire time why some enterprising attorney general, state or national, hasn't taken Ticketmaster on for being a clear monopoly. Whoever does it is going to get re-elected FOREVER. Ticketmaster should clearly not be in business anymore.
posted by history is a weapon at 11:50 AM on August 25, 2010


Just to add a little historical perspective: I paid $1.25 to see Bob Dylan at a large venue in 1965. “Like a Rolling Stone” was a breakthrough hit on top 40 radio back then, and he was performing material from “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blond on Blond”.

According to an online inflation calculator, $1.25 in 1965 dollars is worth $8.41 in 2009 dollars.
posted by Huplescat at 11:58 AM on August 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


While I still won't go to a TicketMaster event if I can at all avoid it, I think this is a wise move on their part.

I've abandoned more than one purchase (not only tickets) because the price suddenly shot up at the end.
"Processing fees", "Handling surcharge", "Tax recoupment". I don't care what the heck you call it, just tell me about it up front.
posted by madajb at 12:05 PM on August 25, 2010


I work for a not for profit that has a lot of performances and is stuck with Ticketmaster. The only reason we use Ticketmaster is because the box office loves having real-time seating. That's the ONLY reason.

Even though we pay over $10,000 a year to have Archtics —Ticketmaster's online ticketing site "customizable" for your site — we still have to pay a fee per performance in addition to the "service charges". So our box office discourages the use of Ticketmaster by encouraging people to phone them instead, and then complain that they get too many phone calls.

When we do festivals, if we want any flexibility in what tickets a person can buy (e.g. any x out of y shows) we have to charge a service fee for each and every ticket they buy, even though it's a package deal and there's only one transaction. It's fucking bullshit.

Someone please offer an open source ticket solution with real-time seating.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 12:09 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


This just in, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are complete pricks and will even screw their own bandmates out of money.
posted by punkfloyd at 12:09 PM on August 25, 2010


All this concert pricing rage is making me glad I'm too old to go to shows.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:10 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Null Pointer and the Exceptions: Someone please offer an open source ticket solution with real-time seating.

I'm sure this idea, and the math to implement it, have already been patented thanks to the geniuses at our wonderful USPTO.
posted by mullingitover at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2010


> This just in, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are complete pricks and will even screw their own bandmates out of money.

From the linked article: "The stones had not licensed their music for tv commercials. Mick was reluctant to license the song to us because of "artistic purity."

Not true. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" was also in a Canadian Levi's ad I can't find.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:47 PM on August 25, 2010


"You Can't Always Get What You Want" was also in a Canadian Levi's ad I can't find.

No worries; you probably didn't need it.
posted by Spatch at 12:59 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find the ticketmaster anger interesting. It's not really fundamentally different from any other company. Except that they break down the price for some reason.

So when you go to Wal-Mart, you buy something, you're paying a "Shipped From China" fee, a "Stored in a Large Warehouse Fee", and a "Checked Out By 17 Year Old" fee. Except they don't get broken down. You just have price.

I just don't understand why ticketmaster would break down the costs. It seems that all it does is make people angry, because the have the stupidest names, and people hate the feeling of being nickle and dimed. A $40 ticket that cost $40 is fine, but a $20 + $5 + $10 + $2.50 + $2.50 ticket feels horribly wrong.

So why do they break it down in the first place?
posted by cschneid at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2010


So why do they break it down in the first place?

So they can advertise 20 dollar tickets is my guess.
posted by madajb at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


The problem isn't just the money either:

So the House Of Blues reopened in Boston. Not the original awesome and tiny restaurant/hall in Harvard Square, but I gigantic LiveNation affair.

A few summers ago the Boston area was awash in awesome $15-$20 shows from the cream of the indie crop at venues like the Paradise, the Roxie, TT the Bears Place, the Harp, the Middle East etc. Those halls are still hosting pretty great shows and the local music scene is killing, but bands like the Arcade Fire, the National, and Wolf Parade are now all playing at the new House of Blues for $30-$40 (read: $50-$60).

Worst of all, really really the thing that makes this awful, is that these bands aren't bringing their friends and they aren't getting local bands to open. Used to be you'd see Bright Eyes with the Good Life, or Wolf Parade with Frog Eyes and Destroyer, or the Silver Jews with his college buddy's band from Northampton. Plus local color. Now it's the band you want to see with the band their label and promoter's talked them into. That's really stopped the tide of cool bands coming into Boston.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:33 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


So when you go to Wal-Mart, you buy something, you're paying a "Shipped From China" fee, a "Stored in a Large Warehouse Fee", and a "Checked Out By 17 Year Old" fee. Except they don't get broken down. You just have price.

Well, not really. for most transactions in the States that somebody's not going to get audited and fined for later, you're already breaking down costs: net price, plus the sales tax (which generally _isn't_ broken down among the various governments getting a cut) -- you don't see the gross price 'til the end of the transaction there, either. So you've already got a tradition of breaking things down. (Which, by the way, will never change until you rise up and drown Grover Norquist in the bathtub. Getting nickel and dimed on a retail sales tax is, I'm sure, one of the reasons America has a tax hostility parallel with its Ticketmaster hostility. But I derail.)
posted by Vetinari at 1:35 PM on August 25, 2010


Just to add a little historical perspective: I paid $1.25 to see Bob Dylan at a large venue in 1965.

So, what was up with that? That's only a little more than a movie cost back then. Why were concerts valued so little? Were they making the money on the alcohol?
posted by smackfu at 1:35 PM on August 25, 2010


I'd rather see just two numbers. "Share paid to artist" and "Everything else". I don't give a shit how many other jackals are fighting over the entrails, or who's winning.
posted by CaseyB at 1:54 PM on August 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Were they making money on the alcohol?

Since it was a Dylan concert, they could have made it from providing subtitles.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just don't understand why ticketmaster would break down the costs. It seems that all it does is make people angry, because the have the stupidest names, and people hate the feeling of being nickle and dimed. A $40 ticket that cost $40 is fine, but a $20 + $5 + $10 + $2.50 + $2.50 ticket feels horribly wrong.

So why do they break it down in the first place?


My guess is that they play tomfoolery with the prices similar to how airline tickets or rental car fees are priced. There is the "price", and then there are fees and taxes which are put upon it, which often are the same for every unit sold, but which vary from venue to venue. The last time I rented a car, the hospitality tax and airport fee and convenience this-and-that all added up to MORE per day than the actual "price" of the car rental. It left me feeling pretty much the same as when I purchase from Ticketmaster and find that there will be 30-45% in fees tacked on.

I'm sure it also has to do with revenue sharing and taxes and disbursement of funds somehow. I don't really know for sure, but I could see where a company would have to pay taxes on the sale of an item, but not necessarily on fees they collect attached to that sale. Or whatever.

I'm glad they're making the change -- I'd much rather know that I'm paying $65 for a ticket than be told it'll be $40 and then discover during checkout that it's actually $65.

Also... the NIN ticketing thing worked REALLY REALLY well for their last couple of tours. Plus, because it wasn't going through Ticketmaster, the physical ticket was all pretty, with foil highlights, custom background, logos printed on the ticket, etc. Makes for a much nicer little souvenir than the typical Ticketmaster print-on-a-blank ticket.
posted by hippybear at 2:23 PM on August 25, 2010


I would just like to know why I have to pay extra to print tickets on my own printer, using my ink and paper, on top of the Ticketmaster charges and service fees and everything else.
posted by synecdoche at 2:25 PM on August 25, 2010


So why do they break it down in the first place?

I would imagine it has to do with how contracts break down percentages from what the artists get. Artists may, for example, get 20% of the ticket sales. So that's 20% of every ticket price. TicketMaster then charges their own "fees" that aren't actually part of the "ticket" cost.

A similar example is the 9/11 security fee. That's a separate $5.00 or so charge because it's specifically going to a separate entity from the airline's income. They don't give a percentage of the ticket sales to the government.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:34 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The last (and only) Ticketmaster experience I had was with Leonard Cohen, because, well come on, it's Leonard Cohen.

It was horrible to know that buy tickets early online meant getting inferior tickets because, a priori, they skimmed off the best ones to scalp later on.
posted by Danf at 3:09 PM on August 25, 2010


A lot of people here are missing the point, which I only know because I read Bob Lefsetz's blog. He's a long-time music-industry insider/gadfly, who seems to know everyone, and he's been talking about this kinda stuff for a long time- ticketing fees and the live-concert business, and how sorta seamy the whole thing is.

Point is- all that Ticketmaster hate? I share it, believe me, but apparently, a lot of those fees? Go to the artist. That's right, our musical idols, our pals, our buddies, don't want to look like they're charging very much for the tickets... so they set it up so the ticket price looks low, but then tack on another $5 as a fee.

So who do you blame? Those bastards at Ticketmaster. If only they wouldn't tack on their nasty fees to the low price the Artists are trying to charge us!

As Brad Delong would say- the Cossacks are working for the Tsar.

Here's a brief note on this very story, with a quote from Ticketmaster's owner-

"acts, promoters and venues are fighting full disclosure all-in pricing that consumers want, TM is unilaterally doing this. Needless to say a major promoter has already written to us demanding we stop."

Certainly that doesn't prove that TM aren't douches, but that doesn't mean that a bunch of other parties aren't either.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:10 PM on August 25, 2010


So, what was up with that? That's only a little more than a movie cost back then. Why were concerts valued so little? Were they making the money on the alcohol?

The way I see it concerts weren’t undervalued then so much as they’re overvalued (and likely overproduced) now. The show was on a Sunday evening at The Baltimore Civic Center, and we paid for nosebleed seats but found room down front during the intermission. That was before celebrities became “superstars”with massive entourages and idiosyncratic catalogues of demands to be satisfied by promoters and caterers. The music business was different back then. In 1964 I was a student at Towson State, a liberal arts college with a student head count of 650. Simon and Garfunkel played the school and Louie Armstrong and his band did our “Sweetheart Dance”. As a surprise bonus Judy Garland and Tony Bennett showed up to shmooze with him during his break.

Concerts were affordable back then. As a college student, working Saturdays at the local mall, I took my girlfriend to every big concert that came thru town from Frank Sinatra to The Rolling Stones... with dinner after.
posted by Huplescat at 3:11 PM on August 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Everything at concerts is overpriced, not sure why anyone would expect Ticketmaster to be different.
posted by smackfu at 3:21 PM on August 25, 2010


cschneid: "So why do they break it down in the first place?"

For the same reason that a 50 dollar a month cell phone contract ends up costing 60 "after fees" and why we end up with "1TB" drives that only hold 900GB.
posted by pwnguin at 3:51 PM on August 25, 2010


history is a weapon: "I made it about halfway through this thread and couldn't help wondering the entire time why some enterprising attorney general, state or national, hasn't taken Ticketmaster on for being a clear monopoly. Whoever does it is going to get re-elected FOREVER. Ticketmaster should clearly not be in business anymore."

Monopolies aren't illegal.
posted by rhizome at 5:22 PM on August 25, 2010


rhizome: "Monopolies aren't illegal."

O RLY?
posted by mullingitover at 5:33 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


This week, number one with a bullet... "Fuck Ticketmaster (In Their Fucking Faces)" by jcruelty and the Disgruntled Patrons.

I'd like to see Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift do this as a duet. As long as I didn't have to pay a convenience fee.
posted by joz at 6:41 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


apparently, a lot of those fees? Go to the artist. That's right, our musical idols, our pals, our buddies, don't want to look like they're charging very much for the tickets... so they set it up so the ticket price looks low, but then tack on another $5 as a fee.

Looking at my most recent Ticketmaster purchase, which of these fees would be going to the artist? The "convenience fee" (nearly $10/ticket)? The "order processing fee" (actually under $5 for the entire order)? Or from an earlier receipt, the "facility fee" (about $7/ticket)?
posted by hippybear at 7:03 PM on August 25, 2010


20% goes to the ass-raping department; 30% goes to R&D for the shake-down division; 15% goes to a subsidiary organized to make people hate music; 10% goes to the military-industrial complex for development of nerve gas that kills kittens; and the rest goes to promoting Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus concerts.

I can't get into it here, but the nerve gas is really important. Let's just say that kittens in a hot, steamy environment like a concert where there are no natural predators quickly becomes a roiling mass of fur a foot deep. I mean, I don't like the toxic fumes and all the dead kitten carcasses, but surely the other way lies madness.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:56 PM on August 25, 2010


Ticket Alternative is a decent 'alternative', but I'm pretty surprised that there isn't a decent open-source roll-your-own-ticketmaster-that-doesn't-suck solution out there.
posted by tmcw at 8:03 PM on August 25, 2010


I did recently attend a show ticketed by Brown Bag Tickets. I thought they were an interesting vendor to work through.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 PM on August 25, 2010


Way back in 2007 Live Nation spun off from clear channel communications. They had to move out of the clear channel facilities and sort of exist on their own two feet (forced government divestiture I think). Live Nation had recent purchased House of Blues and were basically the largest live music venue owner in the world, a good place to be if you like concerts and all of that. They also bought a number of other companies who owned smaller niches of venues - think motor sports and other stuff like that.

Once they got their feet under them Live Nation looked around at their revenue stream and where it was coming from and who was eating up pieces of it. TicketMaster did, I think 80% or some ridiculous amount of ticket sales or processing, for their concerts, theatrical stuff, etc etc. You can see where this was going, that's a very large piece of business you're not integrating and then adopting internally to make money. So they decided to build out their own ticketing infrastructure a couple of years later. I think it was basically a negotiating tactic, as with LiveNation's business going internal, up to 80% of what TicketMaster did would just go away and the company would have been crippled. So mergers became the name of the game, and instead of the consumer getting maybe some competition in the market place in regards to ticket sales/etc, we're left with an even larger company less interested in providing a competitive product. They are required to license their software to a couple of competitors and then offer them the chance to buy it after 5 years, but really they built a competitor to the Ticketmaster platform to force the merger, might as well use it.


All together it's all one big fabulously profitable vertical stack of business, I don't know if anyone will ever crack through it, it's so far down on the list of priorities for fixing crappy stuff in this world I doubt it will ever happen. You may want to thing of Ticketmaster just as, those guys ripping you off with extra zero value add fees. They are the venue owners, they are the concessions owners, they own and license the merchandise, they own the parking lots, they buy up contracts and negotiate exclusive deals with other major media companies in bulk. They are the industry itself, so rail against Ticketmaster, but also understand that that's just one of the take your money angles there is in this thing, and everyone wants in.

Finally, I can't find the source so take it as you will but I recall a conversation where the face value of the ticket was especially relevant to the revenue returned down to the artist and the venue, the impact of the face value split may or may not bubble up to the ticket agent? Can't remember. Sounds right though.
posted by iamabot at 12:41 AM on August 26, 2010


Oh 3 minute edit window, how I strongly desire your arrival on the back of a pony.
posted by iamabot at 12:43 AM on August 26, 2010


mullingitover: "rhizome: "Monopolies aren't illegal."

O RLY?
"

Yes, RLY. As it says in your link, it's stuff companies do to create or maintain monopolies that is illegal.
posted by rhizome at 1:07 AM on August 26, 2010


The way I see it concerts weren’t undervalued then so much as they’re overvalued (and likely overproduced) now.

I guess there's an argument to be made that people (i.e., consumers) overvalue concerts, but if you're implying that venues are charging more than the tickets are worth, you're way off base. As Reznor points out in one of the links, most concert tickets are vastly underpriced relative to what people are willing to pay, which is why scalping exists in the first place. If the tickets were priced at marketing value, scalping would be pointless.
posted by revfitz at 2:44 AM on August 26, 2010


ugh, market value
posted by revfitz at 2:45 AM on August 26, 2010


OK, on second thought, "most" might be a stretch, since lots of shows don't sell out. But it's definitely true for big acts that regularly sell out venues, which tend to be the ones with the exorbitant ticket prices anyway.
posted by revfitz at 2:47 AM on August 26, 2010


rhizome: "Yes, RLY. As it says in your link, it's stuff companies do to create or maintain monopolies that is illegal."

Er, ok. You made the sweeping claim that 'monopolies aren't illegal.' The Sherman act says that yes, in fact, monopolies are illegal if they were created or maintained with bad intent. You didn't say "Some monopolies are legal."
posted by mullingitover at 9:36 AM on August 26, 2010


Now you can have an argument over whether those are the same statements logically!
posted by smackfu at 10:15 AM on August 26, 2010


es_de_bah: There's a term for that. I believe it's "selling out."

Somewhat interestingly, some of the best concerts I saw this summer were free at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Millenium Park. Jay Pritzker was the majority stockholder of Tickmaster from the early 80s to the mid-90s. Also was a rich bastard.
posted by mike_bling at 11:18 AM on August 26, 2010


mullingitover: "Er, ok. You made the sweeping claim that 'monopolies aren't illegal.' The Sherman act says that yes, in fact, monopolies are illegal if they were created or maintained with bad intent. You didn't say "Some monopolies are legal.""

Right, because that's not what I meant. Monopolies are legal, restraint of trade is not. You don't have to be a monopoly to engage in restraint of trade, and vice versa.
posted by rhizome at 5:28 PM on August 26, 2010


mullingitover: its the 'created or maintained with bad intent' that is the key, having a monopoly as long as the market you monopolise is open to new entrants is legal, its practices that restirct their ability to enter that it the issue.
posted by biffa at 7:34 AM on August 27, 2010


having a monopoly as long as the market you monopolise is open to new entrants is legal, its practices that restirct their ability to enter that it the issue.

...such as having exclusive contracts with venues that only TM is allowed to sell for their box office, or actually owning those venues outright so there is no question about who manages ticket sales for that location...
posted by hippybear at 8:12 AM on August 27, 2010


So when you go to Wal-Mart, you buy something, you're paying a "Shipped From China" fee, a "Stored in a Large Warehouse Fee", and a "Checked Out By 17 Year Old" fee. Except they don't get broken down. You just have price.

So I guess that double parking fee is like me buying something from Tesco and using the self-checkout rather than having it scanned through by a human.

We don't have as bad a time with Ticketmaster over in the UK, but I always get a shock when I think of going to see, say, Pet Shop Boys, and then realise it costs £60 a ticket rather than £14 and stamp on the back of the hand.
posted by mippy at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2010


if some people want to pay 40 million dollars to sit close enough to see if Trent Reznor shaves his nuts, well THAT'S AMERICA LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT! ...
posted by spicynuts at 1:14 PM on August 25 [5 favorites +] [!]


eponysterical!
posted by beelzbubba at 9:08 AM on August 27, 2010


Wonder why nobody can afford anything any more?

Well, actually, the problem is precisely that they can afford the exorbitant markups.

Confession: I'm fresh off a $700 transaction for a pair of glasses whose MSRP is, I'm reasonably certain, around $50. And my prescription is weak. But there's only one place in town that carries them, so...aw, hell, fuck it.

Monopolistic economies thrive on such aw hell fuck its. It sucks, we're suckers, suck, suck, suck.

*shrug*
posted by Sys Rq at 9:15 AM on August 27, 2010


mullingitover: A lot of smaller stores have a minimum transaction for processing credit and debit cards, or explicit credit card fees, and they're all in violation of their contract.


Just want to point out that after July 21 in the US, it is now legal for vendors to enforce and post minimum transaction thresholds for credit/debit transactions.
The banking bill was enacted July 21 and addresses everything from mortgage lending to complex securities. An amendment to the 2,000-page legislation applies to Visa and MasterCard, and mandates that over the next eight months, the Federal Reserve determine a swipe fee rate that is "reasonable and proportional" to processing costs, stripping the companies of their rate-setting role.

While the interchange fee changes affect only debit cards, other new rules coming out of the federal reform bill give merchants more flexibility in deciding how they want to charge for goods and services. The legislation clears up some confusion, making it clear that merchants may offer customers incentives to use cash instead of debit or credit cards. It also allows them to legally set minimum purchase thresholds to use a card.



Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/23/MNN21F0VSJ.DTL#ixzz0xpBPrbh9
I agree with your main point: we should all loathe Visa as much if not more than TicketMaster.

I can't say I never go to TicketMaster shows--I went to see Patti Smith last time she came to Detroit because I just think that the possibility of seeing her will come around all that often. I don't think there are many artists that I am interested in seeing at their prices.

As a result, at 57 years old, I will catch a $10 show at the Blind Pig even if I don't know most of the artists because I'll 1) have more fun (a key criteria for spending my far-from-disposable income) 2) I'll see some bands/artists that remind me why I like live music in the first place--I love to see musicians taking a chance and whether it comes to reward or epic fail, it is just so much more interesting than watching some twat go through the motions.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2010


The legislation clears up some confusion, making it clear that merchants may offer customers incentives to use cash instead of debit or credit cards.

Unless terms have changed in the last few years it's been within their agreements for them to offer incentives for cash. For quite a while it's been against their agreements to charge more for credit.

Everyone in the sanity-based world sees the things as the same, but for the credit card companies it was important their customers not perceived using credit as costing extra.
posted by phearlez at 1:30 PM on August 27, 2010


I don't get this at all. From the NPR link:
"But as Hubbard acknowledges, even the new system can't give you the complete price for a ticket — it can't incorporate delivery fees or processing fees per ticket until after you click through. (In a random search, a single ticket for Lady Gaga's August 30th show in Saint Paul would cost an extra $8.05 after delivery and processing fees — plus additional taxes — were added.)"
So based on the screenshots, they are advertising a ticket as, say $50 ($35 + $15 fees). That's all well and good and is in fact an improvement over the previous system. But then they come along and tack on additional "delivery and processing fees" along with "additional taxes" when you go to check out.

How is this not blatant fraud and false advertising? It's one thing to do as Ticketmaster has been doing all along: advertise the ticket as $35 and tack on the fees later, but this is far more insidious. Now, they are advertising a total price, including a set amount for "fees," yet are charging a substantially greater price for the very same fees they just professed to disclose.

It's a step forward to actually display the true cost of the tickets up front, but Ticketmaster needs to actually do that. This "oh look at us we're so transparent" scheme really doesn't fly when you still have hidden fees. Shame.
posted by zachlipton at 2:22 PM on August 27, 2010


Well, clearly taxes don't have to be disclosed in advertising. I'm not sure about shipping costs, but there are plenty of retailers who don't display those prominently.
posted by smackfu at 2:53 PM on August 27, 2010


smackfu: "I'm not sure about shipping costs, but there are plenty of retailers who don't display those prominently."

I don't know how it is outside of California, but advertisements for softdrinks here always have "plus CRV" (recycling fee) mentioned next to the price. I believe that the CRV is statutory, so it can be learned in advance. Ticketmaster is reserving the ability to change prices willy-nilly. I can't imagine that's legal.
posted by rhizome at 5:42 PM on August 27, 2010


smackfu: It's one thing not to display fees prominently, but it's another thing to do what Ticketmaster is doing here, which is to advertise one price for "fees" and then charge another higher price for fees. When you advertise $50 ($35 + $15 fees), you're deliberately misleading everybody, because no rational consumer expects to be hit with an extra "processing" fee on top of the $15 service fee (ok, most rational consumers expect it from Ticketmaster, but that's not the point). It may not be convention to prominently display shipping or taxes, but consumers have an expectation that a large "service fee" include the service of "processing" their order. If you advertise one price for your fees and then charge a higher price when the customer goes to buy, that's false advertising.
posted by zachlipton at 9:40 PM on August 27, 2010


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