Tag Archives: Live Nation

Ticketbastard

“Greed…is good!”

Uh…no. Actually, it sucks. But some of the greedy people in the entertainment business are so clueless – and think we are so stupid – that they continue to gouge us and defend their actions with the worst logic since the single bullet theory.

In their latest effort to gain street cred, Ticketmaster launched a blog. Yes, you read that correctly. And of course, their first main topic was explaining how those gargantuan fees they collect are really complex (you know – too complex for stupid people like customers to understand) and it’s not really all their fault since other people participate in the money grabbing as well.

I have no problem believing that a corporation under fire would throw its business partners under the (tour) bus – that’s just consistent with their lack of accountability. But just how does that justify what’s going on? How is that supposed to make me feel better? I should feel better because I’m being fucked by multiple companies instead of one? Since when is gang rape a better option than rape?

I spent years working in the industry and remember when automated ticket processing began. I have no problem with the concept – the same seats available everywhere, instead of hard copy tickets where the first row can only be at one box office or outlet at a time. It gives anyone the opportunity to get the best seats – we’ll shelve the scalping and illegal handling practices for now – and a service like that should come at a price. But at a reasonable price.

Here’s an excerpt from their blog post:

But the reality of the live entertainment business is that service fees have become an extension of the ticket price.  Most of the parties in the live event value chain participate in these service fees either directly or indirectly – promoters, venues, teams, artists, and yes, ticketing companies – and service fee rebates are our largest annual expense at Ticketmaster.”

The simple logic is this – if there were no fees, no one would be participating in them.

The article is written as if these fees are necessary because this is where the participants make their money. If that’s true…what about the base cost of the ticket itself? The ticket price is what it is because all the expenses of a show have been built-in. At least that’s the way honest people used to do business.

The venue gets a rental fee. The artist gets a guarantee. The teams (unions, advertisers, staff, etc.) get paid. The promoter either gets a fee because he’s being hired to produce the show, or he bankrolls the show in return for a percentage of the profits. Way back when, not too many people were sharing the pie, but over time – and especially in the lucrative rock’n’roll business – people saw fistfuls of money passed around and wanted their share. So now, pretty much everybody negotiates a percentage along with the fee.

But that’s the cost of the show – the nut – and ticketing is supposed to be just another part of the plan, like advertising and catering. Hell, they’ve got a sweet deal compared to most since everyone needs a ticket. But when artists and promoters see all these “extra dollars” being generated as a byproduct of a show being put on, why wouldn’t they want their cut? The simple fact is there is no need for all those fees in the first place. When a $15 ticket could cost you $33, something is wrong with the system.

The only reason Ticketmaster gets away with it is their dominance in the market – you can’t work around them. Especially since the concert promotion and venue segments of the industry are also combined into dominant presences, and now they are all under one roof at Live Nation. They are not an altruistic organization looking to spread the arts to the far corners of the world. They are Wal-Mart. They are Exxon/Mobil.

Trust me, I could lay out dozens of ways that people in the industry rip each other off, from dummy companies and duplicate tickets to “VIP seating” and scalped comps. I had to learn every trick in the book to protect my own artists from getting screwed, and like most businesses with that much cash changing hands, there’s a thief on every corner. I don’t blame those involved in the industry trying to protect themselves and get their fair share.

And I know the industry is different now, and times have changed, and it’s all business. But some of these fees range from double dipping to outright highway robbery:

  • Why am I paying a percentage of the ticket fee to the artist, who already has a guarantee and a percentage of ticket sales?
  • Why am I paying a percentage to the promoter, who already has his deal?
  • Why on earth am I paying crews or unions or teams above and beyond their lucrative hourly rate and guarantees that they’re already charging to be there?
  • Just what is so convenient about paying a convenience charge, since I can’t get a ticket without one?
  • And the most ludicrous of all – why am I paying a home convenience fee to print out an electronic ticket using my ink and my paper and my labor? I’ve removed the overhead from the equation, yet I’m paying more? Where is my cut?

Ticketmaster just thinks the anger is the delay in declaring the final charges rather than the charges themselves. News flash, geniuses – it’s bothIrving Azoff’s solution is that pricing will be fixed from the beginning with no extra charges getting tacked on. Sounds like the fees are still there – just buried in the mix again.

The sad fact is the days of ten-dollar t-shirts and reasonable ticket prices and the ability to see dozens of shows a year has vanished forever. I pity the generations who have had to grow up with these obscene price structures. Maybe you’re as mad as hell, and you’re just not going to take it anymore.

But I do have a very simple solution if you are fed up with the monopoly.

Don’t go. Don’t pay.

There are thousands of great artists playing clubs and pubs at a fraction of the cost. Your door money might go to the band’s gas tank and breakfast tab. That guy selling the t-shirts isn’t some local union guy taking a 45% cut, he’s probably the road manager. You’re not subsidizing a Chinese Wall of bullshit with your wallet.

Here’s the link to the article in the LA Times that started my blood boiling.

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Filed under Editorials, Film/TV, Music

Barn Empty. Horses Still Visible?

Towering Inferno

I got an email today from Jim Urie, President of NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) reminding me of his primary mission for 2010 regarding intellectual property and ISP involvement. At the recent awards dinner he made a keynote speech entitled “Call To Action“. The thrust was that the government (!) needs to intervene in the war on piracy before all is lost, because people are sharing music illegally. 

Well…duh

Urie (also the head of Universal Music Group) is seeking a viral marketing campaign to bring the issue to the attention of our elected representatives to force cooperation from Internet Service Providers, a tactic which he says has worked in other countries to reverse the trend. From his email: 

The music business is facing huge challenges from piracy and theft. Never before in American history has an entire industry been so decimated by illegal behavior.  Yet the government has not responded in a meaningful way to help us address this crisis.  My call to action is for all of us to become more aggressive in lobbying our government, more outspoken in drawing attention to the problems caused by piracy and more actively engaged.  We cannot win this fight alone.” 

 

I have mixed emotions about this issue. On one side, the record industry could have done the right thing all along – like any sane business – and by anticipating the future and changing with the times. But they stubbornly held on to their antiquated sales model years after its atomic half-life expired, and even when blatant warning flags like Napster came along to wake them from their slumber, they just didn’t get it

First it was the loyal mom and pop shops who took the hit. Few at the top of the record company foodchain gave a shit, because they were concerned with their mega-chains and their superstar artists and keeping their hand in your wallet 24/7. But when seismic shifts happened – like Tower Records collapsing – then and only then did the movers and shakers start to admit that change was evident. 

It’s 2010…Tower filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and closed in 2006.  

So much for preemptive strikes; even Tower’s demise didn’t force the issue. The barn door has been open for years and years and I’m not even certain the horses are still in view. Had they not been so greedy and foolish, we wouldn’t be having this exchange today. 

Ten years ago Kodak was still stubbornly insisting that digital photography was a fad and that film cameras would be around forever. That egregious decision almost sunk a billion dollar corporation; what was a seventy dollar stock price in 2000 now hovers at five. They will survive, but they’ll probably never recover from the failure to act. 

Maybe I’d feel more sympathetic towards the music industry if I didn’t witness so many labels treating artists like cattle, failing to reinvest their huge profits into artist development and coddling flavors of the moment instead of nurturing long-term relationships. Tend the fire? They couldn’t even keep the kindling lit. They support gougers like Ticketmaster. They support the monopolies of national promoters because they are also a monopoly

Now they’re drowning. Think Ticketmaster or Live Nation gives a shit? 

 

On the other side, I am acquainted with a lot of people who are musicians and artists who are watching their product get stolen (and in some cases sold for money they have no share in). I know writers and publicists who lost their jobs. I know many record stores that aren’t there anymore. 

And as much as I can blame shitty radio or the drive to satisfy tweens or the myriad of other ways to spend an entertainment dollar, the fact remains that a large part of their potential income is lost because people take their art and give it away without their permission. Put as much lipstick on that pig that you want, but that is called theft

And I realize that a lot of those people getting that free music would never have paid for it; they only got it because it was free. That’s not the point. And if you try to sell me the idea that attainability is possession, I’ll respond with a hearty fuck you – just because you can grab something does not mean it belongs to you. If possession was ownership, there would be no shoplifting, no breaking and entering, no kidnapping, no grand larceny. I’m not trying to equate file sharing with kidnapping, but the premise is the same – someone taking what they want without concern for anything but their own gain

 

I’m all for the availability of music, but I firmly believe that the only person who decides what price you should pay is the owner of that music. And more and more often these days, that’s the artist, not the record company. But even as assholic as the record companies have proven to be, if they legally own the music, it belongs to them. Let the paradigm change as artists discover they can do it better on their own rather than have a large faceless corporation bury them in a financial blizzard. 

It’s a simple fact that a musician selling CDs on CD Baby can reap five to fifty times the royalty rate they would get on a major label deal. An independent artist with controlled overhead and fiscal sanity could sell a thousand albums and make a living. Try doing that on a major label

 

So you can see why I’m divided on this issue. On one hand I’m disgusted that the record industry waited long after an appropriate time to try to resolve the issue fairly; they banked on the fact that the tide would come back in and everything would return to normal. On the other hand…theft is theft

So check out the links below and make up your own mind. Maybe you’ll sign a petition. Maybe you’ll patronize the artists instead of the torrent sites. Maybe you won’t do anything. 

In the end it is your conscience and your wallet. Do the right thing

 

Music United website

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Dancing With The Devil

No Fees

Remember when going to shows was a simple thing? Buy your ticket for a few bucks, no service charge, no special taxes, no convenience fee? (The latter is my favorite, where I can print the ticket out on my printer using my paper and my ink and they still charge me money.)

Monopolies suck. And once the concert industry was invaded by every bloodsucking organization from concession companies to ticket brokers, two things happened overnight: prices shot skyward, and it was more about the business than the band. Inflation aside, how does a $50 or $75 or $100 ticket make frequent concert-going affordable? How about that $30 cotton t-shirt? If you do score a good seat, you’re as likely to sit next to some loudmouth, Blackberry-waving asshole who barely knows the group as you are to share the moment with another true fan.

But every so often one of these monoliths will do something right (whether or not for the right reason). This Wednesday is no-fee day on club tickets and a chance to meet and greet certain bands at certain venues, plus a chance to win a free pass for a year to each of their venues.

Maybe Satan is just doing a one-day money grab because times are tight. Maybe it’s a marketing test to see how many dogs run when Pavlov’s bell (actually, a metronome) goes off. Maybe they’re actually trying to do the right thing. Who knows? But since I go to shows and you go to shows, I’ll pass this along to you for no other reason than you might save some money. And if this will in any way get people out to clubs to see smaller bands who really need the support, that is a good result.

I do not endorse nor do I support companies like Ticketmaster or Live Nation; I’m just sharing the information. Good luck, and watch your back…

nice to meetcha

This Wednesday Live Nation gives fans ultimate access to some of their favorite bands when for one day only every single fan who buys a ticket to a Live Nation club show is automatically entered to win an Ultimate Access Pass to the venue for which they bought their ticket.  The Ultimate Access Pass is Live Nation’s golden ticket, good for admission to every single show in 2010 to an individual Live Nation venue.   Every Live Nation club venue will have an Ultimate Access winner, with the names of winners posted on LiveNation.com Thursday morning at 12 Noon Eastern time.  On Ultimate Access Wednesday every single ticket will be available at reduced cost as Live Nation drops the service fee on hundreds of thousands of tickets in its club venues across the country for one day only.

In addition to offering the concert goers the chance to win the Ultimate Access Pass, Live Nation is bringing music fans and their favorite bands closer together by hosting fan-and-band meet and greets at venues across the country.  Bands will spend the afternoon meeting fans, taking pictures and answering questions.  The box offices at Live Nation clubs will be open on Wednesday afternoon, selling no service fee tickets to all scheduled events.  All fans purchasing tickets at the box office on Wednesday will also be entered to win the Ultimate Access Pass for that club.

It all happens Wednesday, October 28th as Live Nation drops the service fee on hundreds of thousands of tickets in its club venues across the country.  In addition to the onsite meet and greets, the No Service Fee offer will also be available at Live Nation for 24 hours beginning at 12:01 a.m. local time on Wednesday, October 28th on participating shows.

Money To Burn

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