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On ticket prices

I just bought a pair of tickets for the upcoming KISS concert. Yes, I know, I suck at life, etc., etc.

Here is my question: How the fuck can it cost $10 to process a ticket in today’s age of web-ordering and automatic credit hook-ups online? The listed ticket price for the concert is $89 (let’s leave alone the question of whether this is reasonable, for now). The actual cost: $99. It doesn’t matter if you order online or walk to the ticket window and bother the underpaid employees at the Metro Centre (who certainly didn’t get a signigicant piece of my $20 extra for their 2 minutes of work). Just out of curiousity, I just looked up the price for a Fleetwood Mac ticket at the ACC. Ticketmaster is charging a ‘convenience’ charge of $13.25 for that concert. The convenience charge for the ticket via ticketmaster to see Billy Joel in Jacksonville is $20.25 (USD). Holy (super)highway robbery, Batman!

By contrast, ordering a pair of seats to the Killers in Calgary would only cost me an extra $6 per ticket, using the broker Webtickets. Still seems a bit much, but it doesn’t make me want to strangle a series of bunny rabbits.

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17 thoughts on “On ticket prices

  1. I hate Ticketmaster. Do they even have any competition? Not only do they seem like a monopoly, allowing them to write their own rules as to what is an appropriate “handling” fee, but you can’t escape them. They have extended their business so that even small venue, non-profit events use their services.

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  2. Simple answer. Greed. And not solely on the part of the ticket agency. (Note – I’m saying this as someone who has worked inside the live event business for over two decades).

    That convenience fee is not the ticket agency’s alone. There are several other parties who receive a portion of that convenience fee – the concert promoter, the venue, and in most cases both the artist and artist management. And yes, in the case of the venue, they often receive a portion above and beyond whatever ‘facility’ (read ‘capital improvement’) fee they charge and tack on to the ticket price.

    None of the parties involved will ever answer as to what portion of the fee they receive. They just will not answer. The ticket agency, as the point of sale, collects the entire fee which is then approportioned when the receipts and revenues are contractually distributed upon (near) completion of the artist’s performance.

    Yes, the ticket agency is evil, and it really doesn’t matter if they are named ‘Ticketmaster’ or any other name, but keep in mind that the music/live performance industry (for that is what it is, an ‘industry’) is itself inherently evil. That goes for many of the top level and top earning artists. Plenty of blame to go around.

    It may not get any better soon either. If you are not already aware Ticketmaster and Live Nation (North America’s top concert promoter and live venue management firm) are currently in merger talks. They may have considerable antitrust hurdles to jump in the USA before such a merger would be approved.

    Should it be approved you might be in a situation where the ‘convenience fee’ is blended into the ticket price as a whole and not broken out as it is currently. You might think you’re better off not knowing the amount of that fee. Possibly, but I’m not so sure.

    Anyway, sorry for the longish comment but that is essentially how it works. It’s sort of like a ‘black science’ isn’t it? The only certainty is that no matter how it is structured the consumer is the only one getting screwed — by all of them, ticket agency, promoter, facility and artist.

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  3. Beijing, again speaking as someone with intimate knowledge of the business… It often does appear that Ticketmaster operates as a monopoly. I don’t particularly like them either but that’s actually and legally untrue. TM has been examined (investigated, and heavily I may add) forwards, backwards and upside down many times, in both the USA and Canada, and it doesn’t bear out.

    In truth, Ticketmaster holds only 30% of North America’s overall event ticketing business. However, and this is where the public perception kicks in, they hold the contracts for somewhere between 70-80% of the overall ticketing business in the live concert category.

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  4. I can only presume that your question is rhetorical. It is outright bullshit, a quick grab at the expense of both the ticket buyer and the band.

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  5. I find it most interesting and curious that both of my earlier comments have been ‘awaiting moderation’ for close to 10 hours now.

    Is there a problem? Are you possibly making assumptions about the poster? You might wish to a) visit A Creative Revolution and/or b) e-mail me if you wish to confirm and/or discuss my bona fides in relation to my comments (i.e. I do work in the live event business and have inside knowledge that appears, at least at this point, as if it is being suppressed.

    In any case, I have taken screen caps should they disappear down the rabbit hole.

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  6. An aside to Frank Frink: Our moderator and fearless leader is away in a very isolated location for a few days – the rest of us can’t approve comments. Nothing sinister implied or intended, they will be added ASAP, I’m sure.

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  7. Sorry for the delayed approval, Frank, as Flash said, I’m in the north for a couple of weeks and have network access when I’m at my base in Inuvik (where I am now), but not when on the road, as I have been the past few days. My schedule for the remainder of my visit is decidedly more local than it has been, so there should be no serious delays in approvals.

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  8. Thanks folks. Had me worried for a moment. I just wanted to point out that there’s more to it, a lot more, than just the evil ticketing agency (and they are evil). It’s an evil industry all around and admittedly I have sold some small portion of my soul to it somewhere along the line.

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  9. Hate to say this, Bri, but $85 for KISS is damn cheap – I paid $65 for Lenny Kravitz earlier in the fall (shut up – my girlfriend likes him), and the tickets for Great Big Sea we got for Christmas were 50 dollars apiece. As for why the prices are what they are – maybe Frank can confirm this, but from talking to some of my musician friends, what with the prevelance of downloading sites these days, an awful lot of acts are making up their losses in CD sales with concerts, so let he without Bittorrent cast the first stone.

    As for Ticketmaster, I might be more incensed about them operating their own scalping operation in TicketNow, but in truth, I’m indifferent. If you don’t like the price of concerts, if you don’t like how Ticketmaster operates, the solution is simple – don’t go to concerts. There are a lot of really good bands that you can see at a club for about 5-20 dollars cover….

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  10. Dan, you really paid $50.00 to go see Huey Lewis and the Newfies? While I agree with all of you that Ticketmaster rose up from one of the deeper planes of hell,I find that it’s Ticketpro that usually empties my wallet here in Halifax.In any case, I’m more annoyed that the acts picked to play concerts here in Halifax all seem to have been chosen from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s roster. It would be nice to see promoters send some more contemporary acts our way. In the meantime I suppose I’ll continue to patronize Gus’s Pub for my live music needs, where at least the beer is affordable.

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  11. I expect the money that went to resodding the Commons was from property taxes, so even if we didn’t want to go see the Rolling Raisins or that idiot redneck last year or those over the hill has-beens next, we get to pay for part of a ticket.

    Yeeha.

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  12. Doug – *I* didn’t pay anything, it was a Christmas gift from Donna’s sister – and since she works for the city government, I suspect she got a discount. As for why the acts tend towards the older end of the spectrum, blame the boomers – they’re the ones with the disposible income, so they’re the ones the promoters cater to, since that’s the surest way to make a profit. It could be worse, the 2 most profitable concerts here at Mile 1 Stadium in the last couple of years were Charley Pride and Kris Kristofferson, plus we have Tommy Hunter later this spring….

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  13. To which I have to ask you Dan, what dark arts are keeping Tommy Hunter alive? Satanism? Cthulu worship maybe? No, no, it’s likely darker and more powerful than those two. And I do blame the boomers.However I have my own disposable income. I’d like to spend some of it on concerts that don’t involve cowboy hats and by way of reinforcing Tim and kevvy’s point, the acts that I’d like to see probably wouldn’t try to stick the city with a bill for showing up and trashing the Commons. Something that’s become a regular part of our big annual outdoor concerts.I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure that last year’s Summer Slam concert at citadel hill didn’t destroy the place and it rained there two. By inference then, indie rock fans are less destructive than c&w fans. Less likely to be dickheads too, in my experience.

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  14. It’s not dark arts – my theory is that Tommy Hunter is a Terminator, if the tour bus ever crashes, you’ll see a shining metal figure striding out of the flaming wreckage, with a guitar slung on its back…

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