Live Nation And Ticketmaster’s Upfront Pricing: Strategic Move Or Antitrust Diversion?

In a world where digital transactions are the norm, transparency should be a given, not a luxury. Yet, the online ticketing industry, dominated by giants like Live Nation and Ticketmaster, has been notorious for its lack of upfront pricing, leaving consumers to grapple with hidden fees at checkout.

The Biden Administration’s recent announcement that these companies have committed to disclosing full ticket prices upfront comes after years of regulatory scrutiny and consumer frustration.

Some believe that the catalyst for this change was the cancellation of ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour last November (reportedly due to a bot attack). This incident spotlighted the anti-competitive contracts and high ticketing costs that have become synonymous with Live Nation.

While the commitment to transparency is a positive step, it doesn’t address Live Nation’s reported 70% market share. Critics argue that this is a half-hearted attempt to ward off a looming DOJ investigation into the company’s power over live events.

In practice, it’s important to look at ticketing for what it is: an unfunded race to the bottom. No one wants to pay service fees, and everyone wants to buy tickets online. Artists want to profit from secondary sales, but so do all the other stakeholders.

If you think about it for a minute, you may come to realize that with a 70% market share, Live Nation is under no pressure to evolve the system or invest in it. They are a virtual monopoly. Since no consumers want to pay the cost of creating and maintaining an up-to-date code base, there’s no financial incentive to build one.

The commitment from ticket service providers is to show buyers the hidden fees. There’s no commitment (or incentive) for them to lower or eliminate them. In the end, I’m not sure the ticketing industry (whatever size it may be) is going to change until an entity with an adjacent business model gets into it for strategic reasons – think Amazon and Prime or Microsoft and OpenAI.

Can you think of a few companies that would benefit from having a best-in-class ticketing system? While we’re on the subject, what specific features would such a system have?

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Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

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