Ticketmaster CEO: Concert Tickets Held Back From The Public Are “The Vast Majority Of The Best Seats In The House”

Bill Wyman’s in-depth coverage of the Congressional hearings on the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger continued today, as he live-blogged the House hearings on the merger. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said that he doesn’t hear complaints about high ticket prices (man, those upper-management bubbles must be pretty thick!), that $50 isn’t a high price for a concert ticket (not that he’s had to pay for any in a while), and that Ticketmaster’s service fees also get kicked back to venues and artists, causing Rep. Brad Sherman to respond, “They are forcing [Ticketmaster CEO Irving] Azoff to pretend like he’s charging a lot when it’s really coming back to you”; Azoff also said early in the hearing that “if our customers don’t like [our service] they will go somewhere else.” Like what, the movies?

There was also this very informative exchange:

Sherman is asking by far the best questions. Now he’s pinning Azoff down on where tickets to a concert go. “Inventory control is not a perfect science,” Azoff says.

That’s an extraordinary euphemism, give Azoff’s replies immediately following:

Sherman: If there’s ten thousand seats in the area, are you selling 10,000 tickets?

Azoff: Never. On average we might see 80 or 85 percent of the seats.

Sherman: Are those the good ones or the bad ones you’re not getting?

Azoff: The vast majority of the best seats in the house.

Now, this probably won’t surprise any Idolator reader who’s been on a list at a big arena show (whether through winning a contest or being there on assignment or what), but Wyman’s assertion that this is the “headline of the day” is correct; there is still a myth that one can get the “best seats” through hard work, or even buying through one of those increasingly irritating fan club presale setups. But it’s not true, not most of the time. And with the prices that are being charged for shows lately—even though Rapino doesn’t think they’re all that high—it should at least be mentioned somewhere up-front.

Anyway, Wyman’s coverage of this merger has been pretty uniformly excellent, especially since he knows the business well enough to get past the bluster from all sides. Vital reading, especially if this merger somehow moves forward.

Live-blogging the House hearings on the Ticketmaster/Live Nation Merger [Hitsville]