A ticketholder’s right to do what he or she wants with a ticket is being threatened once again. In recent weeks, Live Nation/Ticketmaster, which controls up to 80% of the live event market, has criticized a law in New York which protects consumers’ rights to freely use, transfer, resell, or give away their purchased tickets as they wish. For the upcoming Paramore tour that Ticketmaster is contracted to sell tickets for, the company is attempting to block ticket transfer and instead forcing fans into using Ticketmaster’s proprietary Ticket Exchange Program, which by the company’s own admission, would generate more profit for the company. Let there be no confusion: the formal statement issued by the artist is clear “As many of you know, we partnered with Ticketmaster for our Los Angeles shows to control the ability to resell tickets strictly through Ticketmaster’s Ticket Exchange Program, preventing anyone from reselling tickets for profit. We really wanted to use the same program for [NY], but unfortunately New York State law does not allow for the restriction of ticket resale pricing.” When Live Nation/Ticketmaster is complaining about a state law, it’s a sign that the law is a good one and helps to foster vibrant competition and put more power in the hands of fans.
Not surprisingly, the attack on the New York law sharply contradicts the will of the ticket-buying public. New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the right to sell or give away their legitimate purchased tickets. In a 2021 survey, 84% of respondents said they should have the freedom of choice to do what they want with their purchased tickets and 90% agreed that it is good that New York law requires sellers to offer a transferable ticket. These results are similar to national polling conducted by Protect Ticket Rights in 2022 which found that 81.6% of respondents support transferability and nearly the same amount (79.3%) back rules to protect that right. Ticketmaster may claim it is working to protect consumers and artists with its resale restrictions, but the public does not believe that these restrictions are in their best interest.
And it’s not just the public – virtually every economist which has probed the ticketing market has concluded that more competition in the market would benefit consumers. But you don’t have to be an economist to know the obvious – consumers should have choices regarding where they buy tickets.
In addition to attacking the New York law, Live Nation/Ticketmaster makes it clear that it prefers a walled garden ticketing ecosystem that it controls and dominates, designed to capture all ticket sales and the majority of ticket resale. Recently, in response to public outcry over the price of tickets to the Bruce Springsteen tour Live Nation/Ticketmaster blatantly stated: “As the resale ticketing market has grown to more than a $10 billion dollar industry over the past few years, artists and teams have lost that revenue to resellers who have no investment in the event going well or any of the people working behind the scenes to bring the event to life. As such, Event Organizers have looked to market-based pricing to recapture that lost revenue.”
What Live Nation/Ticketmaster fails to grasp is that consumers often benefit from a vibrant resale market through lower prices. About 40% of tickets on the resale market go for less than the original price. In any event, the lack of an open and competitive market for the sale and resale of tickets always harms consumers. When there is only one source of tickets there is no constraint on fees and no reason to lower the cost of the ticket.
Fans deserve better than what Live Nation/Ticketmaster is attempting to do. In the chaos of a complex and free-wheeling ticket market dominated by one giant company, it’s consumers who suffer. Lawmakers should continue to support ticketing legislation that protects ticket transferability and market competition.