Is the music industry playing fair? Or are you just in love with a scalper?

Is the music industry playing fair? Or are you just in love with a scalper?

It’s not you, it’s Stockholm syndrome.

MusicNovember 05, 2019 By Brian Frederick

Let’s not dance around the pole about it: event ticketing is an absolute disaster. Like, accidentally peed your pants a little at “their” house with only one safe exit to flee through, disaster. Maybe this relationship just isn’t working out.

A recap: in August, Senators Richard Blumenthal of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made a few calls to the Department of Justice on every music fan’s behalf. They claim that, in short, the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster takes advantage of those the two businesses rely on most, the fans.

Under the merger, Live Nation isn’t allowed to retaliate when a venue chooses to use a ticketing service other than Ticketmaster. If it does, it effectively strong-arms that whole supply and demand thing. Mafia style.

Venues, it appears, feel they’re being retaliated against anyway. Some claim to have had shows pulled. Others say they’ve been blacklisted altogether. Because of the senators’ calls, the DOJ stepped in and even acknowledges there’s an investigation of monopolistic practices going on.

Live Nation doesn’t agree, of course, and maintains the headline-grabbing rhetoric is “a fundamental misunderstanding of our consent decree and general ticketing industry dynamics.” Innocent until proven guilty, but … *eye roll*

For there being so many misunderstandings though, the industry just can’t seem to keep itself out of the headlines. In July, Live Nation admitted to helping artists scalp their own tickets between 2016 and 2017. (It only copped to the accusations when a damning phone call was leaked to the media.) In one particular case out of many, it put over 80,000 Metallica tickets on resale sites like StubHub to increase the price before fans could buy any at face value.

It’s infuriating, for sure, but as it turns out, fans didn’t chomp at the bait like the company had hoped (at least in Metallica’s case). Vox reports that whichever genius in the pressed suit thought up the scheme made hardly any money doing so. Karma, bitch.

You’d think it would be easy. Fans like shows. Fans buy show tickets. But still the shade continues. A 2016 study by the New York Attorney General found that only 46 percent of tickets are ever available to normal people. The larger of the two chunks are reserved for “insiders and specially delegated recipients” (read: not you, not your friends, not your mom). It’s a way to create a smaller supply.

And then there’s the fallacy of ticket bundles. And controlling radius clauses. And pricing out independent venues just because they can. And the rest of the laundry list of halfway unethical practices a few giant enterprises get away with each time someone clicks to see their favorite artist. It’s all really too much to list completely.

There is some progress, however: the Better Online Ticketing Sales act (BOTS) that was signed by then President Obama in December of 2016 outlawed the resale of tickets purchased using bot technology. It’s something.

Then again, it really does come down to that Business 101 thing. Venues around the nation are still packed every night. Tours make money. The biggest artists, and their labels, are being paid handsomely.

The relationship isn’t working out. No. But we all know who we’ll be texting at midnight after two soda Cirocs with lemon. It’s kind of our fault.