While Ticketmaster and SeatGeek have agreed to institute more transparency when it comes to ticket sales, some anti-monopoly advocates think the answer is “breaking up” these companies altogether.
Hate junk fees that companies tack on right before checkout? Well, here’s some good news:
Ticketmaster, SeatGeek, and other major ticketing companies announced Thursday that they’ve agreed to institute “all-in” pricing, meaning that consumers will no longer be surprised by additional fees at checkout.
Instead, when consumers buy tickets through these companies, they’ll know upfront just how much they’re going to end up paying. These surprise fees will still be factored into the cost—at least for now—but to improve transparency, they’ll now be presented at the onset of transactions.
Starting in September, Live Nation Entertainment, which owns Ticketmaster, will institute “all-in” pricing for its 200 venues. Ticketmaster has also agreed to give consumers the option to view full costs on the front-end for tickets to concerts, sporting events, and shows held at venues not owned by Live Nation.
SeatGeek will also begin to feature a toggle on its platforms that will allow consumers to see “all-in” costs for tickets later this summer.
The announcements come after months of pressure from the Biden administration and elected officials across the country.
Ticketmaster in particular has faced criticism this year from both the White House and Congress over the debacle that was selling tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. Fans from around the world expressed outrage over what many called “exorbitant” hidden fees, as well as platform outages.
Some fans even sued Ticketmaster, and the issue prompted investigations in Nevada, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. The Justice Department even launched its own, independent investigation, which remains ongoing.
The incident was not the first time the company has come under scrutiny over its pricing practices and exorbitant fees.
“While Ticketmaster claims to be an ‘artist-first business,’ in reality, its very profitable business model depends on price gouging fans,” the American Economic Liberties Project, an anti-monopoly group, noted earlier this year.
In 2022, Live Nation-Ticketmaster reported more than $732 million in income–outpacing 2019, its previously most profitable year, by 125%.
The companies made the announcements ahead of a Thursday afternoon meeting between President Biden and the CEOs of SeatGeek and TickPick, as well as the president of Live Nation Venues and other representatives from the ticketing industry.
In a speech following the meeting, Biden vowed to continue cracking down on hidden and junk fees.
“Junk fees are not a matter for the wealthy very much, but they’re a matter for working folks like the homes I grew up in,” Biden said. “They can add hundreds of dollars a month and make it harder for families to pay their bills.”
Biden has made tackling these hidden fees a priority during his time in office. In his State of the Union address in February, he said he “knows how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it.” He’s also called on Congress to pass a law banning junk fees.
Despite these actions being taken, advocates say that transparency isn’t enough. Many think that the answer to these hidden fees is “breaking up” companies that monopolize ticket sales.
“Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s announcement today is a half-hearted attempt to ward off a looming DOJ investigation into addressing the real issue–its monopoly power over live events,” The Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition said in a statement. “Make no mistake: being fully transparent about extorting consumers is still extortion in an anti-competitive market. Breaking up Live Nation-Ticketmaster is necessary to restore competition and fairness to event goers, artists, independent venue owners, and the entire live events industry.”
SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger also called on the government to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster in January, while testifying before Congress.
“…Robust competition where businesses and consumers can select the best products and services based on their merits…does not happen today,” he said. “This does not happen because Live Nation controls the most popular entertainers in the world, routes most of the large tours, operates the ticketing systems, and even owns many of the venues. This power over the entire live entertainment industry allows Live Nation to maintain its monopolistic influence over the primary ticketing market.”