Live Nation may have inflated Metallica ticket prices in the past, but is this totally bad news for music fans?

02 Aug 2019

Live Nation Entertainment is an American global entertainment company that was founded in 2010, following the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

Music fans have been in uproar recently after Billboard reported on a secretly recorded phone call from early 2017 between Live Nation's Bob Roux, and Vaughn Millette, a Metallica representative, that discussed the band putting a total of 88,000 tickets for upcoming shows onto the secondary market. The call was secretly recorded by Vaughn Millette, another executive who was on the line. 

In the call Roux said, "Ticketmaster will not do it” and suggested that "either a Live Nation employee or a venue box office basically take these and sell them into a singular account". After that the tickets would be listed and sold on secondary-market sites like StubHub.

Live Nation confirmed to Billboard that it had “facilitated the quiet transfer of concert tickets directly into the hands of resellers through the years” but they keenly emphasised they did this “only at the request of the artists involved - who control where the tickets are initially sold”. 

The company added that between 2016-2017 only “about a dozen” artists asked them to do this and “requests like these have declined virtually to zero as tools like dynamic pricing, platinum seats and VIP packages have proven to be more effective at recapturing value previously lost to the secondary market”.

They stated that "in this situation, a consultant for the band opted to use the secondary market to try to capture that value”. The consultant was Tony DiCioccio, a ticketing consultant for the band. 

Metallica representatives spoke to Billboard and said that the band members themselves were not aware at the time that DiCioccio had made a deal with Millette and Live Nation.

Billboard’s report on the phone call shows how large volumes of concert tickets for major tours being sold on the secondary marketplace is not just a ticket tout problem - it is a vehicle that artists themselves can use to make extra money from fans. 

We spoke to our expert Music Business staff to see what they think of the news that prominent ticket vendors have admitted to helping artists and their management inflate the cost of tickets for fans. 

   
 

"IF THERE'S A POSITIVE TO TAKE FROM THIS IT IS THAT THE DEMAND FOR TICKETS IS HUGE AND PEOPLE ARE CLEARLY WILLING TO PAY OVER THE ODDS TO SEE LIVE MUSIC."

- JOHN MARKEY, MUSIC BUSINESS LECTURER AT SAE GLASGOW

   

 

John Markey, Music Business lecturer at SAE Glasgow said: “Live Nation have a really good track record of securing these tours over other large scale live music promoters like AEG. I'd imagine that the option to put thousands of tickets straight to the secondary ticket market had something to do with artists choosing Live Nation over others. I think what's key here is that this happened at someone who worked for the band's request, which hasn't been refuted. This is probably what is causing such outrage amongst fans, it's not nice to think that your favourite artist is willing to exploit you for more money, but then, this is the music business.”  

But is it all doom and gloom for gig goers everywhere? Certainly not - the fact that artists resort to such drastic measures to inflate the prices of their tickets is a sign that live music is more popular than ever. 

As Live Nation acknowledged in their response to Billboard, there are a number of above board mechanisms such as dynamic pricing models, or platinum seats and VIP packages that more recently have allowed fans and superfans to get an enhanced live music experience for more money. 

It’s a basic economic principle of supply and demand - if there is a finite number of seats in a venue and everybody who likes that artist wants to go, then it’s natural that these prices will get pushed above face value. It’s up to artists and their management teams to decide whether they want to introduce regulated mechanisms like dynamic pricing to control this demand themselves, or let unregulated ticket touts outside the venue peddle their wares and skim off the artist’s profits. 

John Markey added: “If there's a positive to take from this it is that the demand for tickets is HUGE and people are clearly willing to pay way over the odds to see live music. This is a good sign of the health of the Live Music Industry and the potential therein for employment within the (currently) most lucrative section of the music industries!”  

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