There was once a time where you could buy a last minute concert ticket for $10 just to have a fun evening out, regardless if you even knew the artist. With the Ticketmaster takeover, those days are in the past.
If you’re wanting to go to the concert of a big name artist, you have to be willing to shell out a good amount of money. Before price gouging and limited ticket release were such big issues, people were able to buy concert tickets up until the day of the event. Now people will get on their laptops at least 10 minutes before a sale starts, and if you’re a minute too late, you’re out of luck.
Ever since Live Nation Entertainment bought Ticketmaster in 2010, the ticketing site has had a monopoly on live music. Because most artists sell their tickets through Ticketmaster, this leaves concert-goers no other way to buy tickets than through resellers.
Because so many music venues have exclusive deals with Ticketmaster, artists automatically have to use Ticketmaster as their vendor if they perform there.
However, the bigger of a ticket broker Ticketmaster becomes, the harder it becomes to get tickets.
In recent years, the amount of complaints regarding the ticketing site have skyrocketed. Ticketmaster has been accused of technical issues, obscene additional fees, unlawful mergers, randomized presale codes and scalping.
Rising ticket prices
If a buyer is lucky enough to secure tickets, it’s unlikely that they bought them at face value.
Ticketmaster utilizes a pricing model called “dynamic pricing” for many of their events. The way this process works is that the more demand for tickets there is, the higher the cost will get. Therefore, if tickets do not sell out before the show, they most likely will become cheaper closer to the tour date. For larger tours, the demand is incredibly high the second tickets are released, immediately causing a rise in cost.
Junior Natalie Garrison applauds artists like Noah Kahan, who enforce Tickermaster’s Face Value Exchange, which strays away from dynamic pricing and ensures that all tickets sold for resale stay the original cost.
Kahan also chooses venues that have lawn seating, which provide further but cheaper options for those that aren’t willing to drop hundreds of dollars.
“I think those kinds of venues make it cheaper for fans, but honestly I think the large monopoly of one organization on every single concert venue is kind of absurd,” Garrison said.
Even if an artist chooses to not enforce dynamic pricing for their tickets, Ticketmaster is notorious for their high fee costs.
Before the buyer is able to check out, service fees, order processing fees and facility charges are added, increasing the ticket’s original price by 30 to 40 percent. This practice is deceptive because these fees do not show up until the buyer has already chosen their seats and provided personal information.
These frustrating complications always cause an uproar amongst fans. In 2022, the Department of Justice opened an investigation against Live Nation after Taylor Swift’s recent tour debacle. Ticketmaster has been suspected of breaking U.S. antitrust laws for years, but after there were 24 cases suing the site after The Eras Tour, an investigation was started.
These trade and commerce laws are to prevent unlawful mergers and business practices while promoting competition in a single market. When almost every event venue has to use Ticketmaster, it rids of any competition between companies and forces the live entertainment industry to rely on Live Nation.
While no system can be perfect, Ticketmaster has made little effort to make a better experience for their users.
The website’s current systems cannot handle all of the currently received traffic at once. This would mean that Ticketmaster would need to either make their site stronger, or implement a new presale strategy. Having to deal with all of these problems turns people off from even trying to buy tickets in the first place. If Ticketmaster did not have such a monopoly on the live music industry, maybe the website would not constantly experience difficulties.
Olivia Rodrigo’s world tour
The most recent example of how the ticket-buying process has frustrated thousands is with the newly announced GUTS World Tour, promoting popstar Olivia Rodrigo’s new album. This tour had two presales, one on Sept. 20 and another the following day. Codes were sent out randomly to those that registered for the early-access sales. Unlike most concerts, these verified ticketed sales were the only way people were able to buy tickets–there was no general sale.
Ticketmaster advertised the costs of tickets for Rodrigo’s tour at $49-199, but due to their dynamic pricing model, tickets ended up being three to four times that amount.
While Swift had to cancel the general sale for The Eras Tour due to high volume, Rodrigo’s team never even planned to have a general sale. If someone were to not receive access to sales, there was no other way to buy tickets without going through secondary markets.
Garrison got an access code for the sale and was excited to buy tickets. However, by the time she got into the queue the minute it opened, there were already 3,000 people ahead in line. When she got in 20 minutes later, the only tickets that hadn’t been sold were hundreds of dollars.
“There were available tickets, a lot of them were sold out but the ones that were available were extremely expensive,” Garrison said.
While she expected to pay a maximum of the advertised $200 for tickets, the only tickets left were between $425 and $835 for the lower bowl. Garrison gave up on getting tickets after seeing these prices.
Many of those that did receive access codes couldn’t even get their codes to work right away, receiving error messages relaying that their codes were not valid. Other technological issues also occurred during Rodrigo’s sales, which has become the norm with many big events. While Ticketmaster introduced their Verified Fan presales in an attempt to reduce scalpers, it has only made tickets harder to get due to the website crashing from increased traffic.
The site has been filled with issues since it was founded in 1976. Similar technology malfunctions occurred back in 2009 with Bruce Springsteen tour tickets. Out of 38,778 available seats for the two shows, only 6,000 people were able to buy tickets. The rest were redirected to secondary ticketing sites and set aside for record labels and people of the sort.
Ticketmaster’s move to rid of scalpers is diminished by the fact that they have created their own program which allows buyers to resell their tickets to other fans for an enormous price increase.
Ticketmaster started their Verified Fan presale program as a way to ensure that tickets go to fans only. However, as their technology evolves, so does that of bots and scalpers. When bots are able to access a sale, they can buy an enormous amount of tickets in seconds.
Ticketmaster went against their own no-bot policy when creating a bot that redirects scalpers to their own resale site, attempting to secure revenue from both the primary and secondary markets
Live music is a huge part of many people’s lives. Having a ticketing platform that doesn’t cater to their users’ needs threatens that sacred experience.