Ticketmaster: Even When They May Be Right, They’re Still Wrong

Apr 20th, 2007 // 5 Comments

finger.jpgNo better way to sign off from a busy day of blogging than with a rant. So you know what really chaps my hide? Ticketmaster! Yeah, very original, I know. But, having worked in media for several years now and having rarely gotten myself on a concert guest list–unlike the majority of music writers I know, including this site’s regular editors (well, I did get on maybe once, but I was the plus-one, not the one to be plussed). So I’ve had to deal with the likes of Ticketmaster from time to time, what with their fees and their charges and their evil fees and charges.

I was thinking about this today after reading this article about Ticketmaster suing eBay, claiming that StubHub (which eBay owns) has “induced artists’ representatives or promoters to demand tickets from Ticketmaster’s venue clients as part of a deal to bring an act or sports team to a location.” Confusing, huh? I’m not even sure I understand that last sentence. Even more confusing (and disconcerting) is that Ticketmaster may actually have a case here against eBay. There’s something wrong with that. Ticketmaster shouldn’t be able to sue anyone. Ever.

Why? Let me illustrate why with a personal financial anecdote. This past Wednesday I went to see Son Volt at what used to be known as Irving Plaza (I didn’t go so much for Son Volt, but for Jason Isbell from the Drive-By Truckers, who’s gone solo, and who’s fantastic). This is what I was charged:

ADULT Tickets US $22.50 x 1
Total Convenience Charge $7.00
Order Processing Charge $4.85
TOTAL CHARGES $34.35

That’s almost twelve dollars on top of the ticket price. Twelve! That’s two beers. Actually, that’s almost another entire ticket at a place like the Mercury Lounge. And the sad part is that the outrage against Ticketmaster, with their exclusive venue rights and ability to rob concertgoers probably peaked ten years ago, so most people just take in stride the fact that they have to pay more than half as much again in obscure and (likely) unnecessary fees.

So, is Ticketmaster to blame? Of course. But are we to blame too? Clearly. Young people, teenagers, college students, twenty-somethings should be taking up arms (metaphorically–not actually picking up spare limbs) against this rampant exploitative capitalism. Alas, we all gave up the fight years ago, and so instead we spend our time blogging about indie-rock websites and polar-bear music videos, rather than taking action. What we need is someone famous to lead the way, like a Bono for impoverished concertgoers instead of impoverished third-world citizens (not that I’m saying the two are even on the same level of importance). What we need is a musician-activist, what we need is someone like Eddie Vedder!

Oh, wait…forgot about this. Dammit. We’re doomed!

  1. Chris Molanphy

    I place TicketMaster right up next to baseball’s antitrust status in the category of Clearly Unfair And Unamerican Things I Can’t Believe The Government/Public Continues To Tolerate.

  2. The HZA. [member of the zombie nation]

    I hate Ticketmaster. The idea of a convience fee is stupid. Convience would be the them showing up at my house and and serving me tea while I decided where I wanted my fucking seats in the arena to be.

    And it irks me when ads will say “tickets only 20 bucks!” No, they are not. There are fees and they should not be allowed to print that.

  3. xtianrut

    Why is it that all areas of the music business are failing? Hmm… Couldn’t be that we all feel fucked every time we try to have a music-related experience, could it? Convenience fees, overpriced CDs, the RIAA suing kids and grandmothers…

    Grab your ankles, everyone. It’s time for another tune!

  4. AcidReign

    …..Well, let’s not forget monthly “value club” credit card charges hidden in the monstrous EULA you sign when you buy a ticket! You can’t buy a ticket to anything more than a movie, in my town, without dealing with Ticketmaster. My solution is to take cash to the window. They don’t like it, but by law, they have to take it.

  5. Butch Huskey

    ticketmaster fees are also completely arbitrary … i checked tickets for Mamma Mia in Vegas (stop snickering) … i had a discount code , but the cheaper tickets have a HIGHER service fee … so for a $55 orchestra ticket they charge $10 in fees ($65 total) but for the $41 balcony ticket they charged $20 in fees ($61 total) … the promoter sees less money on the cheaper ticket but ticketmaster got twice as much …

    and even for different events at the same venue the fee scale changes … a $95 ticket for The Police at Dodger Stadium is a $15 fee, but a $200 VIP Dodger baseball ticket is a $6 fee

    … how does that make any sense?

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