Posted in industry | music on February 19, 2010

The Boss @ Izod Center in May (more by Tim Griffin)
Bruce Springsteen

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with Ticketmaster over complaints that Ticketmaster used deceptive tactics to steer Bruce Springsteen fans to expensive scalped tickets last year. As part of the settlement, the company will pay refunds and, in a move that could have a wide impact on the multibillion-dollar resale business, make disclosures about the availability of the tickets it resells.

The settlement, announced Tuesday by the F.T.C.'s chairman, Jon Leibowitz, concerns 14 Springsteen concerts last May and June. Fans trying to buy tickets through Ticketmaster's Web site were pointed to a subsidiary site, TicketsNow. In what Mr. Leibowitz described as thousands of instances, brokers on TicketsNow -- an eBay-like resale marketplace with no price caps -- advertised tickets they did not have, and fans never got the tickets they paid for.

"TicketsNow.com sold phantom tickets without letting consumers know that the tickets did not exist," Mr. Leibowitz said in a statement. "Then the company held on to consumers' money, sometimes for months, when it knew those fans weren't going to see Springsteen. Clearly consumers deserve better. They deserve to know what they're buying, including the risk that their tickets won't materialize." According to the settlement, Ticketmaster must refund to fans who used TicketsNow the difference in price between the tickets' face value and the final amount. Mr. Lebowitz said those payments could amount to more than $1 million. In addition, brokers on TicketsNow must disclose when they are listing tickets they do not have in hand, and the F.T.C. is sending letters to about 10 large ticket resellers warning them to comply with the law.

Scalped Springsteen tickets have been a focus of news-media and political pressure on the concert industry since early last year, when fans for two Springsteen shows in New Jersey were directed from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow while tickets at face value were still available. Ticketmaster settled with the state of New Jersey over those concerts.

Last month Ticketmaster received approval from the Department of Justice to merge with the concert giant Live Nation. That merger still faces court approval. [NY Times]

In other news, Maryland's approximately-20K-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion (a venue now known for other reasons than just being a venue) has dropped its deal with Ticketmaster/Live Nation for Ticketfly...
"Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., has inked an online ticketing and marketing deal with Ticketfly. The deal marks the largest venue contract to date for the upstart ticketing company, which also handles ticketing for 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., among other venues. The 9:30 is owned and operated by independent promoter I.M.P., which also books and operates Merriweather." [Billboard]
I.M.P. also co-founded the Virgin Vestival in the USA along with one Andrew Dreskin...
Andrew Dreskin is the co-founder of Ticketfly, Inc., a next-generation ticketing and marketing company. He is the co-founder of the Virgin Mobile Festival, a multi-day music and arts festival. Mr. Dreskin was the co-founder, and president and C.E.O., of TicketWeb, the first company to sell event tickets over the Internet. TicketWeb was acquired by Ticketmaster in 2000. Prior to founding TicketWeb, Mr. Dreskin was the co-founder of Energy Media, an early web design firm. Prior to that, Mr. Dreskin was the executive vice president of Beserkley Records, an influential independent record label. Until its recent acquisition by Knitting Factory Entertainment, Mr. Dreskin was the largest outside shareholder in the Big Easy Concert House, a chain of concert venues in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a B.A. from Tulane University, where he is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council. He is also a member of the board of directors of Headcount, a non-profit voter registration organization.
Seth Hurwitz is I.M.P.'s chairman and co-owner...
Independent concert promoter Seth Hurwitz and the Maryland-based companies he co-owns, It's My Party (I.M.P.) and It's My Amphitheatre (IMA), have taken legal action against Live Nation.

In an 11-count lawsuit filed shortly after Live Nation and Ticketmaster announced their intentions to merge in February, plaintiffs I.M.P. and IMA allege that Los Angeles-based Live Nation "deliberately" and "unlawfully" acquired monopolistic power over promotion for the national concert market, and has used its influence to "coerce" artists from only appearing at amphitheaters and other venues the company owns, operates or books.
[Billboard - June 12, 2009]

All connections considered, it's not that surprising how this is all playing out, especially now that Ticketmaster and Live Nation actually decided to merge which forces promoters who compete with Live Nation to decide if they want their competitor to sell their tickets for them.

What does it mean for NYC? How long until Bowery Presents (who probably sells more NYC tickets total through Ticketmaster than anyone else in NYC at the moment) moves to Ticketfly too? Ticketfly is already selling tickets for a few NYC venues: Brooklyn Bowl, Littlefield and Knitting Factory / Warsaw. Nothing on that list is as big as Merriweather, but Brooklyn Bowl is a Bowery Presents-booked venue (though important to note: Brooklyn Bowl were using Ticketfly before Bowery was in the picture there). And even before the TM/LN merge we learned that Bowery wasn't 100% committed to Ticketmaster when they started selling tickets to their NJ venue Wellmont Theatre through Tickets.com (though it is of course possible that they use tickets.com there due to some strange contract that came with the venue when they opened it.... regardless, anyone who has tried tickets.com knows that it won't ever be where Bowery moves permanently).

Meanwhile, Live Nation, who used to use Ticketmaster exclusively but then switched to their own LiveNation.com ticketing system, have started using Ticketmaster again. For instance, Crystal Castles' Irving Plaza show went on sale on Ticketmaster today. Shows that have been on sale for a while, like Ted Leo (and Obits and Screaming Females), are listed on Ticketmaster (its a redirect), but actually only on sale on LiveNation.com.

More details of the Baltimore story are below...

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Merriweather Post Pavilion & Ticketfly

Through Ticketfly, customers will not have to pay a fee to print tickets at home, and service charges will drop as much as 30 percent, Hurwitz said. ...

The first two shows offered through Ticketfly, My Morning Jacket's May 1 performance and the May 16 Sugarland concert, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 26.

"I know people hate service charges, but they're a fact of life," Hurwitz said. "We wanted to get them as low as we could."

Last year, Hurwitz filed suit against Live Nation, claiming the company acquired a monopoly on the national touring market and used its leverage to "entice and coerce artists to appear only at amphitheatres and other venues it owns, operates or at which it controls the booking." The lawsuit is pending.

"We're like the Goldman family in the O.J. trial," Hurwitz said. "The government didn't help, so we're taking matters into our own hands."

Ticketfly was launched by the co-founder of pionering online ticketing company TicketWeb, and uses social media to help promote its shows. It currently sells tickets for the Knitting Factory, Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, Brooklyn Bowl in New York and Troubadour in Los Angeles.

Merriweather's contract with Ticketmaster expired in 2008, and I.M.P. was using Ticketmaster at will since then, Hurwitz said. He hopes his decision will prompt other independent venue owners to sign with smaller ticket sellers such as Ticketfly.

"Hopefully this move will demonstrate to people it's possible to have a choice," he said. "We wanted to make that choice -- rather than sitting around whining about it." [Baltimore Sun]

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Comments (45)

dont fuck with the boss.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 1:47 PM

Ticketfly's fee for St. Vincent's show at the 9:30 club is $8.75
Ticketmaster's fee for Jonsi's show at T5 is $6.30.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 1:56 PM

and no one wanted to stand with Pearl Jam when they tried to take on Ticketmaster back in the 90s! who's laughing now!

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 1:57 PM

I don't think anyone is laughing!

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:03 PM

Whatever happened to those days when people used to line up outside of Tower Records or other Ticketmaster outlets to buy tickets....I miss those days! You could tell people who slept overnight or waited in line to get tickets were true fans.

These days, scalpers are taking over every little penny they can....

Posted by Jonny Greenwood is the man | February 19, 2010 2:08 PM

Piercingly insightful commentary here, to be sure

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:13 PM

Didn't I read that Ticketmaster just inked a deal with Wallmart to be a distribution point. I can get my guns and my tickets in one stop!

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:14 PM

9:30 club always has crazy high fees. They were even worse when they used tickets.com.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:14 PM

How long before Ticketmaster buys Ticketfly?

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:23 PM

$1M in refunds? that's chump change for TM. They should pay punitive damages. shady fucks.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:36 PM

Etix.com has the lowest fees and are great people to work with!

Posted by mark | February 19, 2010 2:37 PM

an april show @ filmore irving price =$16
ticketmaster/live nation fee =$9

yeah, full ticket price is still $25 but when almost 1/2 the ticket price isnt even going to the artist, it's giving me a pit in my stomach, hope you all feel it too.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:38 PM

Ticketfly charges at the 9:30 Club are the same as the previous company. But at least you can walk up, buy tix at the 9:30 Club Box office (every day, not just show days) and avoid the fees. At Warner Theatre, I was forced to pay a $15 "convenience charge" when I've walked up to the box office. Now THAT ticks me off!

The Merriweather announcement at least says that these charges are going down.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:52 PM

The fact that buying a ticket to a Bowery Presents promoted show almost certainly guarantees paying an inflated service charge (unless you travel across the city to Mercury Lounge or MHOW, where they may, or may not, depending on their whim, follow their posted "box office" hours) demonstrates their hostility towards their audience.

...and you thought it was only their thuggish security.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 2:55 PM

You know what really pisses me off. Even if you decide to print tickets at home, you have to pay! WTF

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 3:02 PM

R5 in philly switched from ticketweb to ticketfly

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 3:06 PM

I prefer Tickies.com

Posted by Hugh Botherme | February 19, 2010 3:08 PM

Am I the only one here who thinks that Ticketmaster is hard-working, honest, grease to the grindstone bunch of young sweat-on-the-brow chaps trying to making an Honest Abe dollar in this hustle bustle economy?

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 3:09 PM

The second comment is just not true. T5's fee is $6.30 + 2.05 handling + 2.50 print at home - you don't see the handling and print at home til you purchase. So T5's total fee is $10.85, not $6.30.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 3:33 PM

3:09, beautifully done

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 3:51 PM

@1:56 PM

you've always been able to buy 930 club tix at their box office with only a $1 service charge.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 4:05 PM

3:09 ftw

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 4:13 PM

wasnt Dreskin behind FAILED DAY? remember that shat-storm?

Posted by thighmaster | February 19, 2010 4:32 PM

all the ticket companies are the same. When livenation.com took off people said it was good because ticketmaster didnt have a monopoly but livenation puts on more fees than ticketmaster and even puts fees on tickets bought at the box office (all livenation venues have a 3 or 5 dollar add on now). At the end, its all the same. They're all trying to take as much money as they can from you. Livenation says $20 face but its absolutely impossible to buy the ticket for 20 dollars. No matter the avenue you take, you'll end up paying 25% more.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 4:41 PM

3:33- If you select Standard Mail there is no shipping or handling fee. The fee is only $6.30. But don't get me wrong Ticketmaster sucks ass.

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 5:58 PM

why are those live nation tickets so BIG?

Posted by Anonymous | February 19, 2010 9:27 PM

sons of bitches should pay me back about 6k

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2010 1:19 AM

why is Bruce throwing gang signs in this photo?

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2010 9:47 AM

I dont think anyone who posts comments here will be happy with ticket prices until they are all free. You are all just as miserable as much of the music written about on this blog. Have a lovely day.

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2010 4:01 PM

^ Go hug a tree, fuckface.

Posted by Anonymous | February 20, 2010 11:36 PM

The bottom line is that Ticketmaster is corrupt and unfair. They can try all they want to limit the amount of people using automated services but I think they are unstoppable. Look at Peter Gabriel and other GIANT names (including Bruce). Those who tried to get tickets this past week like me I'm sure were shocked at 10:01 when they clicked the search button, no tickets were to be found. Disclosing how many tickets can be sold may help, though I really don't think there is any solution. Customers will continue to pay the convenience charge and all other fees in exchange for being able to click and purchase tickets at their computer. Fuck Ticketmaster.

Posted by JM | February 21, 2010 5:04 PM

5:04, why can't you just be happy with what you're given by your corporate masters like 4:01? He's having a lovely (and well-financed) day)!

Posted by Anonymous | February 21, 2010 6:32 PM

This is just retarded. Thank god people are standing up to ticketmaster now. God help us all when they the merger with Live Nation is finalised!

Posted by John | February 22, 2010 8:29 AM

WHAT ABOUT OTHER CONCERTS, I brought 2 tickets to a Madonna concert in Madison Square Garden and was charged more money than was listed on the tickets??? Is anyone checking into this??? Ticketmaster should not be allowed to get away with this.

Posted by M | March 3, 2010 7:49 AM

Great post! I guess that could be a big problem
in making money… if there is no offer how can you make money..
at all? makes sense.I need to start making more offers.
Thanks for the great post!

Posted by james | March 5, 2010 8:49 AM

The fact that buying a ticket to a Bowery Presents promoted show almost certainly guarantees paying an inflated service charge (unless you travel across the city to Mercury Lounge or MHOW, where they may, or may not, depending on their whim, follow their posted "box office" hours) demonstrates their hostility towards their audience.

...and you thought it was only their thuggish security.

Posted by يوتيوب | December 22, 2010 10:02 PM

WHAT ABOUT OTHER CONCERTS, I brought 2 tickets to a Madonna concert in Madison Square Garden and was charged more money than was listed on the tickets??? Is anyone checking into this??? Ticketmaster should not be allowed to get away with this.

Posted by Loan | December 22, 2010 10:02 PM

Guggenheim billed it as a performance piece and it was just an installation. Resultingly, the crowd simply waited for the "show" to start, limiting anyone's ability to freely explore the space (the ground floor was packed with indian-style seaters, and the balconies were lined with people holding onto their spots like grim death.

Posted by منتديات | January 9, 2011 1:43 PM

Hey ya'll we lost another one.......but I'm glad to have grown up with gangstarr as representatives of this music that has an incredible history.....hip hop is a book that wrote itself and GURU was definetly one of its main characters.....we are all getting older.....and GURU is one of the MCs that added a soundtrack to our lives in the 80's and 90's.......the NAMES,PLACES and FACES come to mind when I hear a GANGSTARR track.........I thank GOD that he allowed GURU to shine in his short time...........REST IN EVERLASTING PEACE GURU

Posted by تسريحات شعر | January 20, 2011 6:45 AM

Hey ya'll we lost another one.......but I'm glad to have grown up with gangstarr as representatives of this music that has an incredible history.....hip hop is a book that wrote itself and GURU was definetly one of its main characters.....we are all getting older.....and GURU is one of the MCs that added a soundtrack to our lives in the 80's and 90's.......the NAMES,PLACES and FACES come to mind when I hear a GANGSTARR track.........I thank GOD that he allowed GURU to shine in his short time...........REST IN EVERLASTING PEACE GURU

Posted by Anonymous | January 20, 2011 9:24 AM

Hey ya'll we lost another one.......but I'm glad to have grown up with gangstarr as representatives of this music that has an incredible history.....hip hop is a book that wrote itself and GURU was definetly one of its main characters.....we are all getting older.....and GURU is one of the MCs that added a soundtrack to our lives in the 80's and 90's.......the NAMES,PLACES and FACES come to mind when I hear a GANGSTARR track.........I thank GOD that he allowed GURU to shine in his short time...........REST IN EVERLASTING PEACE GURU
===================
http://www.yesvr.com

Posted by Elkema | January 25, 2011 10:53 PM

This was a majob bummer, I am a huge fan of The Boss, and had tickets to go to this event. Just a bit unlucky that Ticketmaster lost the event to Ticketfly.

Posted by TheSEMarket | February 4, 2011 3:43 PM

i was at highline and not williamsburg and the set list posted here seems to fit though I thought they only played 3 songs in the encore (definetely slush and take it in were two of them) though i could be wrong.

Posted by Girls Games | December 4, 2011 3:29 PM

ull like it.. if u hate ticketmaster :D The Walking Dead - Ticketmaster Apocalypse - http://www.fanarchist.com/blog/the-walking-dead-ticketmaster-apocalypse/

Posted by The Fanarchist | June 14, 2013 5:18 AM

Very nice thought provoking article. Like to read more stories from your websites. Thanks!

Posted by Web Design Bournemouth | July 28, 2013 2:04 AM

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