Ticketmaster's Destructive Reign (And What That Means for Artists and Fans)

By Erin Christie

Recently, Ticketmaster has become the target of a great deal of anger - anger that I personally believe is at least slightly warranted.

Not too long ago, Ticketmaster introduced a new system, Verified Fan, which claims to combat scalpers and resale sites. Despite good intentions, this plan has proven to be nothing but detrimental to the ticket-buying process, often leaving fans without access to the codes necessary to buy tickets in the first place and distributing them right into the hands of scalpers (who just as easily have the ability to apply and score tickets).  

I think I speak for all concert-goers when I say that Ticketmaster, for lack of a better word, functions in a manner that is incredibly bogus, even with Verified Fan not factored in.  

As years come and go, ticket prices have been steadily rising and wallets globally have been subsequently emptying. Standard general admission tickets for large arena events (as in tickets for standing room) can go for upwards of $120+ without the additional service fees added on.  Said fees can add almost half of the price of the ticket onto the initial purchase, which is an atrocity considering how expensive the tickets themselves are in the first place. Even for smaller venues, such as those around the size of the various House of Blues locations stationed nationally, tickets can be pricey, making it difficult for fans to shell out what they need to see their favorite artists. Finances are putting a hold on music-lovers being able to go to concerts without worrying about breaking the bank, and that’s a travesty.

Taking a look at Pollstar’s “2018 Mid-Year Special” (including analyses on the top tours, ticket sales, and overall business analysis), it is blatantly clear that though the overall revenue accumulated from ticket sales over the past few months has increased, a lot of that increase isn’t due to increased sales, but increased cost of each sale - hence, ticket prices are rising at a staggering rate.  

“The precipitous rise speaks to the industry’s aggressive pricing strategy to better meet demand and exclude the secondary market,” Pollstar states, and this is definitely evident.  Companies like Ticketmaster want to remain on top (in terms of site traffic and fiscal value), even if that means shoving fans under the bus and buying out/pushing out smaller ticketing services.

To guarantee that they keep raking in cash, Ticketmaster has also proceeded to buy out venues nationwide, namely the House of Blues franchise, ensuring that all tickets for events to take place at said venue will be sold through them. Venues such as the iconic Webster Hall in NYC have been reduced to Ticketmaster money-hustling sites, essentially turning money from fans without batting an eye.

Ticketmaster is a power that people have been conditioned not to reckon with. Their complete monopoly over ticket sales renders them untouchable, even to the artists whose events they sell tickets for. The artist has virtually no input in terms of ticket pricing, yet still face a lot of the blunt force that comes as a result of the system (including fan criticism, unfortunately).  All of the money from ticket sales is essentially funneled directly into Ticketmaster’s greedy hands, leaving the artists feeling played and fans penniless.

At the end of the day, this piece has become more of a means for me to rant about how much I despise the current ticketing system and how Ticketmaster’s power-trip makes me feel helpless, but all-in-all, it is meant to serve more as a wakeup call.

It’s hard to say, “don’t support Ticketmaster!” when they have power over so much of the live music world, but in the meantime, just talking about this is a start. The fact that they have been able to get away with this so seamlessly and without rebuttal speaks to their position, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be combatted.

Wanting to avoid feeding into the system’s hand but still craving a live music fix? Do some research into your local scene and scope out some great talent that is bustling right around the corner from you - feed back into your area’s roots and fund artists directly!

Support your favorite artists by buying their music and not just streaming, splurge on merchandise if you can, come out to their gigs and show them that you care - Ticketmaster clearly doesn’t.