BLOG: Live Nation/Ticketmaster Forms Corporate Coalition to Fight Consumer Reforms

Well, that was fast.

Only a week after a coalition of consumer organizations formed in support of the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights, and with Live Nation/Ticketmaster facing a barrage of outrage over its practices, Live Nation/Ticketmaster assembled other mega corporations to create a corporate coalition styled “Fans & Artists Insisting on Reforms.” The corporate coalition has united around legislative proposals supported by Live Nation/Ticketmaster which would rob fans of the ability to do what they want with their purchased tickets.

Lawmakers and the public should not be fooled by the coalition’s consumer-friendly-sounding name. The coalition’s name is ironic as not a single consumer or fan organization is a member. The coalition is led by Live Nation/Ticketmaster, a ticketing monopoly which controls over 70% of the market, and is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, and was just harangued in the U.S. Senate for failing fans and relying on defective technology.

Unsurprisingly, the Live Nation/Ticketmaster coalition’s proposal is horrible for fans. Don’t take our word for it, national polling has shown repeatedly that fans of live music and sports overwhelmingly support the right to freely transfer their purchased tickets. Live Nation/Ticketmaster and its coalition allies want to remove this valuable right, taking away fans’ ability to make their own decisions with their purchased property. Whereas the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights protects fans’ ability to freely transfer their purchased tickets, Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s coalition seeks to limit these rights. Live Nation/Ticketmaster has always worked to reduce competition in the market at the expense of fans and this coalition is more of the same. Notably, none of the coalition’s proposals would do anything to limit Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s anti-consumer and anticompetitive conduct. Indeed, the proposal would give Live Nation/Ticketmaster more power. The very first provision endorsed by the coalition is to expand corporate control over tickets at fans’ expense. Just as consumers can freely resell a car they bought without interference from the original seller, ticketing consumers should have the right to do what they want with their tickets. Live Nation/Ticketmaster and its allies receive the fair market value for tickets (often with inflated fees) when they sell tickets. They shouldn’t be paid twice and they don’t need additional kickbacks from fans who resell their tickets – especially as many tickets on the secondary are resold for lower prices.

Unlike the Live Nation/Ticketmaster coalition, the group promoting the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights is a true consumer coalition. It is led by two of the most respected consumer protection organizations in America – the Consumer Federation of America, whose membership includes over 50 million regular Americans and the National Consumers League, an organization which has fought for everyday Americans for over 100 years. Other members include the Sports Fan Coalition, Public Knowledge, and Protect Ticket Rights. The Bill of Rights has four pillars, each of which protect consumers. The Bill of Rights is rooted in the Right to Transfer Tickets, the most important protection lawmakers can offer fans. It also includes the Right to Transparency, which includes all-in pricing and disclosures of relevant information for the purchasing decision. Third, fans have the Right to Set the Price. In other words, companies should not dictate to fans for what price they can or cannot resell their tickets for. Lastly, fans have the Right to a Fair Marketplace where they compete with actual humans and not bots for tickets

The bottom line: fans and legislators should not be fooled by Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s corporate coalition. This initiative exists to deflect attention from Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s track record and to tighten its monopolistic control over the live event industry at the cost of depriving fans of the freedom to do what they want with the tickets they purchase.

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