Yesterday, Live Nation announced a massive increase in third quarter revenue and its “highest quarterly attendance ever”. Now the White House says it is cracking down on “hidden junk fees,” specifically including “concert ticket processing fees.”
This latest commitment by the government to regulate the ticketing space – and, in turn, industry-leading promoter Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster – was first revealed in the president’s remarks nine days ago. . But the topic continued to grab headlines after the White House doubled down on its regulatory target in a social media post yesterday.
Of course, that tweet came on the exact same day that Live Nation posted $6.15 billion in Q3 revenue, up nearly 40% from Q2 and up nearly 130% compared to the third quarter of 2021.
“I know that hidden fees – like processing fees on concert tickets – are a pain,” read the post on the president’s Twitter account. “They are unfair, misleading and add up. That’s why, last week, I called on my administration to crack down on these charges and put that money back in your pocket.
The precise details (including possible legislation and/or decree) of this crackdown remain to be seen; the initial discourse on the subject mentioned “concert tickets” only once and focused primarily on bank, airline, and credit card fees.
As noted, however, several politicians have long advocated for stronger regulation in the areas of ticketing and concerts, in which Live Nation and Ticketmaster play decidedly important roles. (According to OpenSecrets, Live Nation lost $1.25 million on lobbying in 2021 and spent an additional $800,000 on lobbying so far in 2022, plus an additional $128,139 in affiliate contributions to candidates and committees of the party during the 2022 election cycle.)
Granted, it was only last month that activist groups called on the Justice Department to “investigate and unravel” the 2010 Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger; the latter entity formally responded in September to a separate review (involving “dynamic pricing”) from a member of Congress.
It’s worth mentioning in conclusion that Live Nation executives answered several questions about potential regulations during their company’s third quarter earnings call, with CEO Michael Rapino saying upfront that “At Ticketmaster, we continue to advocate for fee transparency in live event ticketing.”
“We don’t think there will be any impact if there is a national mandate for all-inclusive pricing,” Live Nation president and chief financial officer Joe Berchtold said. “We think it makes sense. Just do it collectively at the same time. … So I think we’ll work with the FTC. We will be working with the DA in New York State, and we strongly support this and other changes to make ticketing more transparent and a better customer experience.
Meanwhile, Rapino added that his company “would like to see the sale of specs banned” and “would like better rules on bot ticketing”, among other things.
“We like the sunlight to come into the business,” Rapino said. “We would like fees to be more transparent [with] initial fixed price. We just have to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules, but we’re going to lead these plays.