The Cure’s Robert Smith ‘Sickened’ by ‘Ticketmaster Fees Debacle’ – Variety

The hell of buying concert tickets loomed ahead again this week, but this time it wasn’t millions clamoring for a limited number of Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen tickets, but rather attempts by long-running British alternative band The Cure to avoid gutting fans for his upcoming “Lost World” North American tour.

While the group had managed to avoid controversial policies like platinum packs and variable pricing, frontman/founder Robert Smith was shocked to see a hefty service charge added to the cost of “Verified Fan” tickets, which are intended to encourage fans to protect by keeping tickets out of the door. from the hands of scalpers, for the tour.

“I’m as sickened as all of you by today’s Ticketmaster ‘Fees’ debacle,” Smith wrote in part of a long series of tweets in capital letters. “To be very clear, the artist cannot limit them in any way. I asked how they are justified. If I get anything coherent through an answer, I’ll let you all know.

Ticketmaster representatives did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, although sources have said in the past that venues, rather than the ticket giant, are often responsible for some or all of the processing fees that fans often see suddenly added to their ticket price. , late in the process.

However, the cost is just one of the ticketing pitfalls that has followed Smith’s Twitter feed in practically real-time since the tour was announced on March 9, channeling the experience of countless ticket buyers.

First, he discusses the secondary market’s practice of selling tickets that don’t yet exist. “Any ‘secondary ticket market’ sites showing outrageously priced Cure tickets are a disadvantage,” he wrote on March 13. “None of these scammers have a real ticket for sale. Please don’t fall for it.”

The next day he said the group decided to use Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” system in an effort to combat scalping, he said the band refused to participate in the company’s dynamic pricing and “Platinum” tickets – leading to skyrocketing ticket costs when tickets for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s current tour went on sale reaching many thousands of dollars.

“TM has just informed me that all tickets for the Cure shows on a Lost World tour will be available during tomorrow’s Verified Fan sale,” he wrote. “It seems that the response to registration has been quite overwhelming – thank you! However, I realize there are issues, some more real than others… We had the final say on all of our ticket prices for this upcoming tour, and didn’t want those prices immediately and horribly distorted by resale – we were told ‘in Noord -America resale is a multibillion dollar industry.’”

He continued: “We were convinced that Ticketmaster’s ‘Verified Fan Page’ and ‘Ticket Exchange Face Value’ ideas could help us fight the scalpers… (we disagreed with the ‘dynamic pricing’ / ‘price increase” thing… Because it’s a bit of a scam itself? A separate conversation!).”

A day later, after the “fees debacle,” he commented on the latter tweet: “What I meant by this bit was… I had a separate conversation about ‘platinum’, to see if I had misunderstood anything… ‘T! It’s a greedy scam – and all artists have the choice not to participate… If no artists participated, it would cease to exist x.”

In his most recent tweet, late Wednesday night, he added: “I’ll be back if I get something serious about the TM cost… In the meantime I’m forced to note my obviously returning elephant in the room… That if no-one bought from scalpers… Then… X.”

Wholly owned by Live Nation, the world’s largest live entertainment promoter, Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticketing company and has come under fire for many years, but especially in recent months after fans who participated in the Verified Fan program for Taylor Swift’s upcoming The “Eras” tour waited hours online or did not receive tickets at all. Combined with the Springsteen debacle over the summer, the company faced scathing criticism that reinvigorated Congress with investigations into its practices and allegations that Live Nation could be a monopoly. Joe Berchtold, CFO of Live Nation, appeared before a highly critical Senate Judiciary Committee in December, though that hearing largely consisted of grievances and posturing to voters by certain senators.

However, a steady stream of more solution-oriented activity has come from the offices of Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Mn.) and both Mike Lee (R-Ut.) and John Cornryn (R-Tx.), who have called for the Department of Justice to investigate Live Nation for “anti-competitive conduct”. A previous investigation in 2019 found that the company had repeatedly violated a 10-year consent decree to refrain from monopolistic practices, which was signed after Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010. However, those findings resulted in fines and little else.

Live Nation, which has posted record profits since the pandemic lifted and forecasts even higher profits for 2023, has launched what it calls the “FAIR Ticketing Act.” empowering artists to take the lead in preventing exploitative prices in the secondary market; “make it illegal to sell speculative tickets”, addressing scalpers’ habit of tricking fans into buying tickets that don’t yet exist; “extend the BOTS Act”, to counter the widespread use of bots to buy tickets in the secondary market; “crack down on resale sites that are safe havens for scalpers,” which would force secondary market sites to monitor activity on their platforms more aggressively; and “mandatory nationwide all-in pricing,” which would address processing and other fees that are often revealed very late in the sales process.

While many organizations and artists have signed up to support the act, it is currently just a document.

Variety will have more on this situation as it develops.

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