The Cure’s Robert Smith ‘Sickened’ by ‘Ticketmaster Fees Debacle’ – Variety

The living hell of concert ticketing came to the fore again this week, but this time it wasn’t millions clamoring for a limited number of Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen tickets, but rather the attempts of long-running British alternative band The Cure to avoid eroding fans for his upcoming “Lost World” North American tour.

While the group had managed to avoid such controversial policies as platinum packages and variable pricing, frontman/founder Robert Smith was dismayed to see hefty service fees added to the price of “Verified Fan” tickets, which aim to protect fans by keeping tickets out of scalpers hands for the ride.

“I’m as sick as you all are of today’s Ticketmaster ‘Fees’ debacle,” Smith wrote in part of a long series of all-caps Tweets. “To be perfectly clear: the artist has no way to limit them. I have asked how they are justified. If I get something coherent in the way of an answer, I will let you all know.”

Reps for Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, though sources have previously said that venues, rather than the ticketing giant, are often responsible for some or all of the processing fees that fans often find suddenly added to their ticket price, late in the process .

However, the fees are just one of the money traps in ticket sales that Smith’s Twitter feed has tracked in virtually real time in the days since the tour was announced on March 9, channeling the experience of countless ticket buyers.

First, he addresses the secondary market practice of selling tickets that do not yet exist. “All the ‘secondary ticket market’ sites listing crazy Cure tickets are a bummer,” he wrote on March 13. “Not one of these scammers has a genuine ticket for sale. Please don’t fall for it.”

The following day, he said the group decided to use Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” system in an effort to combat scalping, he said the band refused to participate in the company’s dynamic pricing and “Platinum” tickets – leading to skyrocketing ticket costs by tickets. for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s current tour was put up for sale, reaching many thousands of dollars.

“TM just told me ‘all tickets for the Cure shows of a Lost World tour will be made available during tomorrow’s Verified Fan sale,'” he wrote. “The response to the registration has been quite overwhelming – thank you! But I realize there are issues, some more real than others… We had the final say on all of our ticket prices for this upcoming tour, and we didn’t want those prices to be instantly and horribly distorted by resale – we were told ‘in North America reselling is a multi-billion dollar industry.’”

He continued: “We were convinced that Ticketmaster’s ‘Verified Fan page’ and ‘denominated ticket exchange’ ideas could help us fight scalpers… (we didn’t agree with the ‘dynamic pricing’ / ‘price surge’ / ‘platinum ticket’ ‘ thing… Because that in itself is a bit of a scam? A separate conversation!).

A day later, after the “fee debacle”, he remarked about the latter tweet: “What I meant by this bit was… I had a separate conversation about ‘platinum’ to see if I misunderstood something… But i didn’t have ‘t! It’s a greedy scam – and all artists have the choice not to participate… If no artists participated, it would cease to exist x.”

In his latest tweet late Wednesday night, he added: “I’ll be back if I get anything serious about the TM charges… In the meantime, I’m forced to note my obvious recurring elephant-in-the-room thought… That if no – one bought from scalpers… So… X.”

Wholly owned by Live Nation, the world’s largest live entertainment promoter, Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticketing company and has been under fire for years, but especially in recent months after fans who had participated in the Verified Fan program for Taylor Swift’s upcoming “Eras” -the tour waited for hours online or did not receive tickets at all. Combined with the Springsteen debacle over the summer, the company has faced withering criticism that revived congressional investigations into its practices and accusations that Live Nation could be a monopoly. Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold appeared before a highly critical Senate committee in December, though the hearing was largely an airing of grievances and attitudes to constituents from certain senators.

However, there has been a steady stream of more solution-oriented activity from the offices of Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and both Mike Lee (R-Ut.) and John Cornryn (R-Tx.), who have called on the Justice Department to investigate Live Nation for “anti-competitive conduct.” A previous investigation found in 2019 that the company had repeatedly violated a 10-year consent decree to refrain from monopolistic practices signed after Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010. However, those findings resulted in fines and little else.

Live Nation, which has posted record earnings since the pandemic lifted and projects even higher profits for 2023, has launched what it calls the “FAIR Ticketing Act,” the main principles of which state that “artists should decide resale rules,” which would be an effort to give the opportunity for artists to take the lead in preventing exploitation prices on the secondary market; “make it illegal to sell speculative tickets,” addresses scalpers’ habit of tricking fans into buying tickets that don’t yet exist; “expand the BOTS Act” to combat the widespread use of ticket-buying bots in the secondary market; “crack down on resale sites that are safe havens for scalpers,” which would force secondary market sites to monitor activity on their platforms more aggressively; and “mandate all-in-pricing nationally,” which would address processing and other fees that are often not disclosed until very late in the sales process.

While many organizations and artists have signed on to support the action, it is currently just a document.

Variety will have more on this situation as it develops.

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