Explain the Taylor Swift concert ticket brouhaha to me please

Transparent. I do not think that word means what you think it means. :wink:

Opaque maybe?

My typing quibble aside you’ve summarized the situation perfectly. When monopolies have been allowed to be assembled, nothing but their forceable disassembly by the law and vigorous enforcement thereof will restore order and fairness to a market.

Yes, thank you. Untransparent :slight_smile:

As a former ticket scalper in the late 80’s and all throughout the 90’s, I can tell you without a doubt TM has ALWAYS been a shady company. The general public NEVER had a chance at getting good seats at face value even back then.

I remember when TicketMaster first came on the scene around 1983 and the reaction was “Finally someone broke TickeTron’s monopoly. They’re the good guys!” For a few years, TM had lower fees than TT. (Like $1.25/ticket on a $15 face value) Then TM bought out TT and fees exploded.

But even back then the only way to get good seats at face value was to go to the box office on the on-sale date.

If only we could clone Teddy Roosevelt and bring him back. He could deal with this situation…

The standard solution to such a problem is to charge a higher price, but that seems to be off the table for some reason.

Lots more people want Ferraris than are produced, yet you don’t hear about Ferrari’s website crashing when the new year models are released.

It’s an interesting situation. Ferrari wants to be known as an expensive car that few people can afford.

On the contrary, most pop stars want to have as many fans as possible. They want all their fans to think they have a chance to see them.

That’s obviously impossible for the real big stars like Taylor Swift, so something’s got to give.

Ticketmaster provides a service, IMO, in that they take the blame and the anger of the fans, instead of the pop star herself, for people not getting tickets.

Not that TM doesn’t have problems. I’ve bought a lot of tickets for various events lately, so I know: It can be very glitchy, prone to bizarre error messages at random times, especially for a popular show like this one. In the middle of a transaction, it can suddenly decide you’re a bot and kick you out.

I used to work for Ticketmaster back when people were shorter and lived closer to water (we used Commodore PET terminals, if that gives you an idea of how long ago). It was a pretty skeevy company back then, but nothing quite like what it became. The vertical integration they have does suck.

However, I don’t think it’s quite a monopoly. I’ve bought several sets of tickets to smaller/medium sized venues through other services recently. They don’t own that many venues, and there are several other ticketing services a venue could use. I don’t really see any reason a place like American Airlines Center wouldn’t be able to use one of their competitors. Ticketmaster sucks, but you’d have to convince me that they’re a monopoly.

Yes, it’s not really a monopoly. When they merged with Live Nation they had to divest some of their accounts. Those formed a new company called AXS, now owned by AEG. (Live Nation’s biggest competitor.) Plus there are a bunch of smaller companies like Eventbrite and Tixr. But TM does have the majority of the market.

If going to a pop concert costs the same as buying a Ferrari, then the system is broken.

But that last part is what’s weird to me. If they’re not a monopoly, then why the heck is that tolerated? The rates, as pointed out upthread, are pretty bad. So why keep using people who seem so completely incompetent?

Swift specifically set up something to reward her big spender fans, to allow them to preorder, and then Ticketmaster completely screwed that up. That’s why people are particularly mad. Not that they didn’t get tickets, but that they were promised tickets, doing extra to get them, only to not to get them, with scalpers getting them.

Surely it would make sense to put efforts into stopping scalping. Make tickets non-fungible. Link them with personal identification and then have a system for verifying the IDs are legit. Start looking into alternatives to handle scarcity, like time-based quotas and lottery systems. Make it where you really do have a chance—a chance to get lucky and be able to buy a ticket.

Instead of just scapegoating these ticket companies, actually do what you can to make things less bad. Maybe not the ideal that fans want, but at least less bad than they are.

I’m pretty sure not having to mail you tickets and then charging you extra for it is the epitome of convenience for TM.

Take it up with the city of Dallas, because “American Airlines Center Box Office, Ticketmaster, Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars are the only authorized ticket sellers for events taking place at American Airlines Center”. The American Airlines Center is a Live Nation Venue.

For a discussion of the monopoly watch the John Oliver piece linked above, or here is a recent article from Vice:

Again, it’s important to remember that Ticketmaster/Live Nation is controlling every aspect of this situation and is making money from every single part of it. They represent the band, plan the tour, own and/or operate the venues, sell the tickets, and allow others to resell the tickets, on their site, for a fee. This vertical integration gives Ticketmaster unprecedented control over concerts in the United States

Ticketmaster can still be a monopoly even when there are other ticket sellers and promoters. A monopoly doesn’t require that there is no competition, just that one entity has an outsized control of the market.

Garth Brooks “has more or less solved the problem for his fans with one simple trick: He adds shows until they no longer sell out.” (quoted from the linked Vice article)

This reminds me of my recent use of their service. I was expecting a digital ticket sent to my email. But no. i got an email saying I had a ticket but no ticket. I think they wanted me to download their app which I’m loathe to do. It’s a pet peeve of mine. I don’t want a bunch of apps on my phone. I had to go online and fiddle with their website to get the image to display and then take a screenshot of it and send it to my phone. I was not impressed with a company that is so entrenched in the ticket business.

Yes, that’s really the only solution. But how many shows can they add? This Taylor Swift tour that started this thread has 53 shows, all at large stadiums. Yet, clearly that isn’t nearly enough to satisfy the demand.

Many years ago I was lamenting never having seen Tom Waits in concert. He doesn’t really like touring, so there were few opportunities, plus he often played smaller venues which sold out in a heartbeat.

I joined an online Waits fan club where members tried to help other members see him. At one point someone was helping me get tickets to an upcoming stadium concert………in Poland. Not Poland, Maine, but Poland Europe.

I eventually came to my senses, but looking back I sometimes regret it.

I was going to come in on this about this; it’s not just concerts. Almost all pro sports go through Ticketmaster.

I was actually thinking of starting a thread about this but with a different title and idea:

Is there any economic value to Ticketmaster?

I don’t mean is the company worth something, I mean does it add any value AT ALL to the economy? Almost all profitable companies add something; they take some kind of input and turn it into outputs of higher value, be it hamburgers, haircuts, golf clubs, machine parts, a new road, electricity, something.

I honestly cannot think of anything Ticketmaster does to enhance utility. They don’t create tickets, they don’t create events. Nothing about buying a ticket from them is easier, cheaper, or more convenient than buying them from anyone else, or from a venue. In many ways it’s actually measurably worse. I may be missing something, but on the surface of it it seems Ticketmaster is pure profiteering, and strikes me as being so amazingly, obviously an anti-trust case that the fact it hasn’t been crucified by the government tells us antitrust law in the USA is no longer enforced.

I am a little mystified as to why anyone would expect anything else. The artist doesn’t set the ticket price. The price of a ticket to an entertainment event has nothing to do with what the talent is paid. If Taylor Swift decided to perform for free, the ticket price to see her wouldn’t change by one nickel.

The number of shows that would be required to meet demand at a reasonable price is probably greater than the number of shows Taylor Swift can be reasonably expected to perform. She is the biggest music star in the world right now.

Only the Dead ever gave 200+ Shows a year and Demand was still high.

For decades state legislators have been trying to figure out how to create some sort of fairness-to-normal-customers regulation for big event ticket sales on line. I remember in the 00s there were in statehouses what were being called “Hannah Montana Laws” to control online ticket hoarders. But of course they were aimed at the purchaser/reseller not the authorized seller.

Now that’s annoying as Hell.

But, yeah, I mean in the old model you just have X number of tickets and the first X people to show up get the tickets and those who are late figure eh, that’s the way it goes. But problem is that you make it so that 14 million people and bots show up all at the same time.

And yeah: extra “convenience fees” for something that now is the norm or even the only realistic choice for transactions? They are not even trying to look good.

I can almost hear Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine going “yes, we CAN do that, no you can’t do anything about it, we’re the phone company”.

I think the value is that more money goes into the artist/venue/promoter black hole so they all profit more and TicketMaster gets paid to eat the anger.

Same as how Roger Goddell gets paid to be the face of the unpopular decisions of the NFL owners.