Throughout the pandemic, many of us have missed the opportunity to see our favorite musicians, sports teams, theater productions and comedians. Now that live events are finally returning, Americans are being reminded of the difficulties and inconveniences associated with obtaining tickets. The reality is that there are a lot of things broken when it comes to live event ticketing, and it will only get worse unless lawmakers and regulators in Washington step in with a solution.
Many ticketing problems stem from the practices of companies in the field of events and ticketing aiming to monopolize so many tickets in their own inventory and to move away from competing companies. For fans, it creates confusion, not knowing when and how many tickets will be available for purchase, and being denied entry by some sites just because the fan purchased their tickets from them. ” another company after they’ve already been sold by the venue’s ticket office or contracted ticket vendor. All of this leads to fan frustration and higher prices.
President BidenJoe BidenHouse Endorses Bill to Provide Veterans with Cost of Living Adjustment recently plans announced promote competition and protect the American public by cracking down on corporate monopolies and their anti-competitive practices. The administration and Congress should include the ticketing industry on this agenda.
Consider that Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, enjoys a 70% market share concert ticket market in the United States and distributes tickets to 80 percent of stadiums and arenas across the country. The company dominates many areas of the live events industry including artist management, music concerts, venue ownership or management, including the installation of exclusive ticket scanning equipment in stadiums and arenas, ticket sales and resale of tickets. Like a the analyst reported Last year, “The company operates an impenetrable ditch that has a monopoly-like structure. Live Nation has long-term contracts with two fragmented and interrelated markets: Talent and Venues. “
Due to its artist and concert management business, and despite a ban in its 2010 DOJ-approved merger consent agreement designed to preserve and promote ticket competition, Live Nation remains able to bolster venues with the threat of starving them and their popular music fans. concerts.
It is not a theoretical concern. In a 2019 court filingJustice Department officials said they identified numerous instances where Live Nation threatened venues with making concert access a condition of a Ticketmaster agreement, and other instances where Live Nation “exercised retaliation against venues by suspending live entertainment events because the venue chose not to contract with Ticketmaster.A settlement included a fine, the the appointment of an independent monitor to investigate and report on Live Nation’s behavior; and a five-year extension of the merger consent agreement. Let’s face it; companies that respect merger consent agreements do not suffer such consequences.
Consumers are harmed and competition is hampered by various practices that impact tickets before they go on sale until the day of the event. This is often thanks to technologies touted as a way to fight fraud, but which make it rather difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to find and buy tickets and to transfer or resell their purchased tickets if they wish.
Hundreds of fans holding genuine tickets to a 2019 show in Los Angeles were hijacked when their app-based tickets haven’t been scanned. This failure was not the result of a glitch – it was deliberate, to invalidate tickets purchased from a source other than Ticketmaster. Such behavior is prohibited by law in several states, but not in California and not yet at the federal level.
Ticket “holdbacks” and “slow ticketing” are two other practices that deceptively create a false sense of scarcity, leaving consumers in the dark about the true ticket supply for an event and whether other tickets are available. will be released later, thus making a buying spree at artificially higher prices. Reports revealed that it’s common for 40 or 50 percent of tickets to be secretly withheld for high-demand events, but then slowly fall into the market. Meanwhile, consumers mistakenly believe that the tickets were ripped off by scalpers when in fact the tickets never went on sale in the first place.
The Biden administration and congressional lawmakers can improve the ticketing market for consumers and provide a level playing field for ticketing companies to compete with each other. Federal legislation was proposed last year following similar laws in several states to protect a fundamental principle: the freedom of ticket holders to transfer, give or resell their tickets. The BOSS law, which includes general competition provisions in favor of consumers and the market, should be reviewed and adopted quickly. With the return of live events, Washington shouldn’t miss this opportunity to fix what is wrong with live event ticketing.
Mark J. Perry is Senior Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan.