Re-TicketMaster

From: Larry Solters
Subject: I’ll give you some hate………

Me again…….
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"TM’s fees as the most hated item in the music industry?"

I got a long, long list of companies that deserve to be hated, and they don’t even pay me. Seriously, Bob, I thought you were smarter than all this.

Let’s first talk about TM’s convenience charges. Guess what, Bob….TM wants, and it would certainly make my day job easier, to have its fees included in the face value of the ticket. Unfortunately, venues and promoters won’t hear of it — they’d rather let TM take heat while they split their healthy share that these revenues generate. As you know the convenience charge has become a very viable source of revenue for the live entertainment industry, so don’t look for substantive changes unless the rest of the industry allows it. If you’re going to take a shot at somebody, target the ones that have the real power to change the "system." At the end of the day, TM is a glorified Fed-Ex without the cool planes and trucks.

As to the non-refundable delivery charge… Let’s be clear, Ticketmaster does not cancel shows. Artists and/or promoters cancel shows. When an artist is "instructed by their doctor to rest their vocal cords" or a promoter cancels a show due to "scheduling conflicts," Ticketmaster is the one that makes the refunds to the ticket holders. Today alone, among the tours Ticketmaster is refunding include Amy Winehouse, The Cure, and The White Stripes.

Guess what? Nobody in the industry reimburses TM for the cost of doing this — not the promoter, not the agent, not the venue and of course, not the artist. Yes, you are right, TM uses $4 of the $111 charge to pay for handling this reimbursement — and when refunding, performs the service twice. TM would love to walk away from that responsibility but somebody has to step up to the bar and do the dirty work. TM provides that service. TM would be happy to provide that service for free, but my thought is that the big guys in NY with the calculators would have a problem with that.

More importantly, how can one harp on a $4 per order (not per ticket) charge when the real issue confronting consumers and the industry is the exorbitant amounts resellers are taking out without investing a dime back into our business? This is the result when an industry refuses to price its product at its market value. Resellers go on to eBay/StubHub and other broker sites and regularly post non-existent tickets before they’re even available for sale. They almost never tell fans exactly what seat they’re purchasing or what the face price was (so much for the transparency you find on Ticketmaster), and, if there’s a cancellation, often can’t be found and you’re shit out of luck. And you claim a $4 non-refundable charge on a $110 charge is the most hated issue or problem in the music industry? I got a list. We should have lunch……a long one.

If you want a real contender for "the most hated item in the music industry," why not ticket brokers/scalpers? Check out StubHub.com and you and Felice can have the honor of seeing Van Halen at STAPLES for $1,385 each ticket, $2,270 total. I’m sure you have no problem with StubHub’s very reasonable convenience charge of $277 dollars and, don’t forget, shipping & handling for $11.95. BTW, this whole deal is purely speculative, as the tickets haven’t even gone on sale yet. Want to go see Hannah Montana with Felice & two friends at STAPLES? No problem. Write a check for $8,800, made out to StubHub.

And your venom is targeted at the industry asking $66 for the same tickets?

It’s time to atone for your sins and educate yourself about the economics of Ticketmaster, Bob. Deal with it — the 1990s are over and your Pearl Jam investigation isn’t going anywhere.

Solters

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

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