Photo Credit: Live Nation
Last week, a U.S. senator called out Live Nation and Ticketmaster for alleged shortcomings in their implementation of all-in pricing. Now, the promoter’s head has responded to the criticism with a firmly worded letter.
Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino’s official response was just recently published to Twitter/X in its entirety by the Ticketmaster parent’s EVP of corporate and regulatory affairs, Dan Wall. To recap, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a longtime Live Nation critic, took aim at the business earlier in October for allegedly failing to honor an all-in-pricing commitment it’d made during a White House event over the summer.
As reported by Digital Music News in September, Ticketmaster itself has made all-in pricing – referring to a model that displays tickets’ complete cost, inclusive of fees, at the outset as opposed to solely during checkout – the default where required by law. But the system must be manually toggled in different states – one of several points the senator touched upon in her own letter.
This same message requested a response before November 15th, and the decidedly well-compensated Rapino promptly sent a follow-up to the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act sponsor, as initially mentioned. To summarize, the text claims the promoter has “no right to impose all-in pricing” on events held at “venues owned or operated by other companies.”
From there, the document reiterates Live Nation’s support for “mandatory all-in pricing legislation” – though competing live-entertainment players previously expressed reservations about the precise proposals at hand.
Live Nation’s latest war of words with a U.S. lawmaker has arrived as the Clockenflap owner and Ticketmaster, which have for some time been grappling with a Justice Department investigation into their merger, face a potential federal antitrust lawsuit. Over the summer, sources with knowledge of the matter indicated that this legal action could be formally initiated by yearend.
Here’s the full text of Live Nation head Michael Rapino’s response to Senator Amy Klobuchar.
“Thank you for your letter regarding Live Nation’s commitment to all-in pricing. We agree wholeheartedly that tickets to live entertainment events should be marketed, listed and sold to fans using the full ticket price, all per ticket fees included. The all-in price should be the price fans see throughout the shopping and purchase process. We have supported mandatory all-in pricing legislation for years, including the new all-in pricing law in California and several bills currently working their way through Congress. And unlike several of our major competitors, Ticketmaster complies with both the letter and spirit of existing all-in pricing laws such as in New York. Anyone can confirm this by searching for tickets to a sporting event or concert in New York on Ticketmaster, StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats. On Ticketmaster the fans sees [sic] the all-in price; on the other sites the fan first sees a price without fees which increases substantially if they try to buy tickets.
“We were proud to participate in President Biden’s June 15 White House forum on transparent pricing. In advance of that event, the President’s team asked us if we could move all of Ticketmaster’s sales to all-in pricing. We explained that Ticketmaster does not have the unilateral right to do that, as it is an agent for the venues that issue tickets and along with content owners (artists, sports teams, etc.) determine ticket pricing and how fees are displayed. However, Live Nation also operates concert venues and festivals in the U.S., and therefore we could institute all-in pricing at those venues and festivals. We therefore announced at the White House forum on June 15 that Live Nation would adopt all-in pricing ‘for concerts at the venues and festivals the company operates across the United States starting this September.’ https://www.livenationentertainment.com/2023/06/live-nation-venues-lead-industry-with-new-all-in-pricing-to-make-ticketing-more-transparent-for-consumers/. We have met that commitment.
“It is true that we have not adopted all-in pricing for the many events that take place at venues owned or operated by other companies, but that is because we have no right to impose all-in pricing on those events. If we had the power to do that it would have been part of our commitment to the White House and our June 15 announcement. This just underscores the importance of all-in pricing legislation. Not everyone in the live entertainment industry shares our views on all-in pricing. Without all-in pricing legislation, there will be patchwork adoption of all-in pricing at best.
“We are grateful for your continued interest in this issue and look forward to working together on effective all-in pricing legislation.”