Online marketplace Ticketmaster continues to screw fans and artists over for their outrageous add-ons related to service fees, facility charges, and processing fees. Americans don’t need Joe Biden promising to get rid of excessive charges, but it does leave people wondering how on earth the marketplace hasn’t resolved this issue yet.
The latest brouhaha comes in the wake of fiascos such as “working class hero” Bruce Springsteen thieving from his base and Taylor Swift concerts being canceled outright due to overwhelmed systems. The Cure, no longer the draw they used to be, presented would-be concertgoers with an affordable $20 ticket price, only to see fans forking over double the amount of the ticket to the robber barons at the ticket brokerage.
Take a look at this open-air theft, as presented by Quartz:
Outraged fans started sharing the evidence on social media. For instance, one screenshot showed a $11.65 service fee and $10 facility charge per ticket, plus an overall order processing fee of $5.50, being levied for those using Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program. The total cost for four $20 tickets amounted to more than $172.
Last year, Ticketmaster got called out by people of all political perspectives after Harry Styles announced a tour in the United States. Time Magazine explained the possible reason why they seemed to hold such power over the industry.
‘[T]he biggest reason why it’s increasingly difficult to score tickets is because Ticketmaster holds back as many as 90% of the tickets for the secondary market—credit card companies, promoters, radio stations, or artists’ fan clubs,” Time wrote in the summer of 2022. “Meanwhile, others are bought in bulk by resellers, who use bots to resell them at a markup.”
In response to the massive backlash, The Cure stepped in and demanded Ticketmaster rethink how it was gouging its fans. And amazingly, they won out; Ticketmaster followed up and stated they’d be issuing partial refunds.
“After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high, and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for lowest ticket price transactions and a $5 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for all other ticket price transactions, for all Cure shows at all venues; if you already bought a ticket you will get an automatic refund; all tickets on sale tomorrow will incur lower fees,” The Cure’s Robert Smith shared in a series of tweets.
“This was on our radar early this morning and has already been resolved – refunds are in progress to fans for any costs over original ticket price. We stand with the band on their decision to use a Face Value Exchange and it will be enforced on our marketplace,” the official Ticketmaster account tweeted around the same time.
At the end of the day, artists hold the real power, as demonstrated by The Cure here. If they take a stand for their fans – or threaten not to play – then Ticketmaster doesn’t sell tickets – and charge their fees. There is another precedence to this action.
During the pandemic, country music star John Rich backed out of a venue after it was announced his fans would have to “show their papers” in order to gain entry. Rich, both a lover of freedom and savvy businessman, quickly pulled out of the venue citing his personal beliefs of never requiring fans to submit to such requests.
He was sued by the venue over lost revenue, but won in court earlier this year.
“During the lockdowns, I stated I’d NEVER play a concert venue that forced fans to show their ‘papers’ for entry concerning COVID,” Rich tweeted in January. “One venue added that rule after I agreed to play, so I cancelled it,” the country star added. “The promoter sued me. He LOST the case today! Happy to say I never bent the knee.”
If performers really cared about their fans, such as The Cure seem to based on their advocacy, then perhaps others could take a bolder step to counteract the outrageous fees which enrich only the third-party mediators.
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