Photo Credit: Mike Stoll
Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary are facing renewed lawmaker scrutiny over an alleged failure to comprehensively adopt all-in pricing.
This latest round of Capitol Hill criticism against Live Nation arrived in the form of a firmly worded letter addressed to CEO Michael Rapino and penned by Senator Amy Klobuchar. A longtime critic of the promoter as well as Ticketmaster, the senator in February urged Justice Department action against the Páramo Presenta parent, which continues to grapple with a federal antitrust investigation.
Then, April saw the lawmaker introduce a bill, the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act, that was described as a means of curbing “the clear excesses and abuses of Ticketmaster.” Finally, in terms of pertinent background details, Live Nation and others at a June White House event committed to embracing all-in pricing – displaying upfront tickets’ total cost, inclusive of fees, that is – beginning in September.
But when September came around, Ticketmaster had turned on all-in pricing only where required by law, enabling customers to toggle the feature in different states. And according to Senator Klobuchar, that means the platform “has not yet made the all-in ticket price—including fees—the default setting.”
“For many events, including those for its own venues,” the senator spelled out in the letter, “it is still too difficult to see the all-in price before checkout.”
From there, the lawmaker expressed the belief that consumers are “in most instances” required to “find and select a filter buried within a tab that gives no indication that it contains an option to display all-in pricing.”
The presence of said filter demonstrates a “technical ability to display all-in prices,” the senator maintained, further indicating that Live Nation “chooses not to display” tickets’ complete cost and acknowledging that Ticketmaster itself doesn’t set all on-platform fees.
Consequently, Live Nation and Ticketmaster must “take additional steps to honor” the aforementioned commitment, the lawmaker said, also calling on the companies to respond by November 15th with an update about their “efforts to disclose the all-in ticket price to consumers up front.”
Notwithstanding this weeks-off deadline, the Clockenflap owner Live Nation has reportedly fired back against Klobuchar’s claims in a letter of its own, relaying therein that “‘Ticketmaster does not have the unilateral right to do that, as it is an agent for the venues that issue tickets.’”
Bigger picture, while across-the-board all-in pricing would presumably benefit consumers to some extent, its overall impact could prove modest given the continued prevalence of and apparent demand behind tours with astronomically priced Ticketmaster tickets. In any event, the Federal Trade Commission earlier in October formally proposed a ban on “junk fees,” among them “hidden mandatory fees” for concerts.