The good news: Ticketmaster is experimenting with dropping the “convenience fees” that can potentially mark up the tickets it sells as much as 75%. The bad news: This experiment, right now, is restricted to fans of the freaking Eagles, thanks in part to the deal two weeks ago that brought the ticketing behemoth together with Irving Azoff’s Frontline Management. Which just happens to manage Don Henley & Co.
Tickets to the country-rock band’s Jan. 17 concert at North Carolina’s Greensboro Coliseum went on sale Nov. 7 under a banner that announced: “This is a no-fee event! The price you see is the price you pay.” The tickets for the concert cost $60 to $190, about the same face value as tickets to other Eagles concerts on the tour, which runs through January. Such fees would add $18 to a $185 ticket at the tour’s Hershey, Pa., stop.
Convenience charges are typically split between Ticketmaster and venue owners, with pieces sometimes going to artists and promoters. The justification for them is that buying tickets from Ticketmaster is more convenient than going to a venue box office.
In the conference call announcing quarterly earnings, Ticketmaster President Sean Moriarty said the Jan. 17 concert represented the company’s “first foray” into so-called all-in ticketing. It isn’t clear whether in the future such no-fee tickets will simply build the old convenience charges into the price of the ticket. Mr. Azoff didn’t speak during the call and wasn’t available immediately afterward to discuss the development.
What’s most amazing about this? Ticketmaster isn’t even charging people for the “privilege” of printing their tickets at home on this stop. (Which makes you wonder: Did that money go to the artists and promoters too, or was there just some complicated kickback scheme that hooked Ticketmaster up with manufacturers of printer ink?) I suspect that right now, the cozy corporate structure Ticketmaster and Frontline have built for themselves will mean this experiment will be restricted for now to Azoff’s clients–Guns N’ Roses, you’re next–but if a company that, for so long, has seemingly gone to great pains to make its consumers really really mad at it can now cast itself in a “we understand the economy sucks, so we’re going to drop our fees for you” light, we may see one of the greatest corporate makeovers ever. Shoot, it could even be the hook for a great remake of Mr. Mom!