Why TicketMaster ??

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Marmeladova
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Why TicketMaster ??

Postby Marmeladova » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:54 am

We loved your show at Yoshi's in April, but I have to ask why you decided to turn ticket sales over to TicketMaster instead of allowing fans to purchase tix without a "service" charge via the Yoshi's box office? The fees amounted to well over 50% of the total ticket price. That doesn't seem to serve either you or those of us who love your music and your shows.
Thanks -

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Postby Michele » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:43 pm

Hi Marmeladova, welcome to the forum! I'm guessing you meant to post this in the Q&A thread. Unfortunately I can't move it there, but I do know the answer to this one. The Yoshi's shows were put on by a different promoter, and so the tickets got handled through Ticketmaster and not Yoshi's usual inTicketing or box office. Vienna doesn't really have a say for that particular case, or for any venue really. She would have to actively choose venues that don't use Ticketmaster.

I sympathize - for the longest time, maybe a couple of years? I'm pretty sure Vienna played no venues that used Ticketmaster. It was pretty cool. Hopefully she will see this and let you know what she thinks about it.

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Postby connor35 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:11 pm

You would think with the ubiquity of the web, that it'd be easy for venues to sell tickets without Ticketmaster.

Anyone can sell anything with PayPal or creditcards on the web now. There is little need left for the TicketMaster middle man.

Hopefully more venues move to that model.

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Postby cmooreNC » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:07 pm

connor35 wrote:You would think with the ubiquity of the web, that it'd be easy for venues to sell tickets without Ticketmaster.

Anyone can sell anything with PayPal or creditcards on the web now. There is little need left for the TicketMaster middle man.

Hopefully more venues move to that model.


For a general admission (GA) show, maybe. But if you're talking about a show with reserved seating then it's nowhere near as easy as you might think.

For GA you need only limit your quantity of total sales. For reserved seats, each single ticket sold is for a single specific seat. Much more complicated.

Box office sales are often far more complicated than people realize. Ever had a situation where you had reserved seat tickets and you arrived at your seats, only to find someone else sitting in them - and they had tickets for the same seats? Not a pleasant experience! And unfortunately that's not as easy to prevent as one might think with, as you say, the "ubiquity of the web." The ability for multiple users to access the same ticketing system at the same time presents many issues.

Ticketmaster presents pros and cons for venues and promoters. For many, the pros outweigh the cons. As for us ticket buyers, we're almost always faced with the "original option" if we don't want to pay the Ticketmaster service fees ---- make a trek to the box office.

But don't get me started on all those venues that then charge you a "service fee" at the box office itself.... ! If there is no available method to truly buy a ticket at "face value", then it's not really the ticket price, is it?
Chris

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Postby tanthalas » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:32 pm

connor35 wrote:You would think with the ubiquity of the web, that it'd be easy for venues to sell tickets without Ticketmaster.

Anyone can sell anything with PayPal or creditcards on the web now. There is little need left for the TicketMaster middle man.

Hopefully more venues move to that model.


It's a little more complicated than that though. :) How does your system know when you're sold out? How about venues who have assigned seating? How about reserving tickets for special customers? How are you going to deliver the tickets to the customer? What if they want them mailed, while others want to pick it up, and yet even others want them delivered electronically?

TicketMaster/TicketWeb/insert-your-unfavorite-website-here all have those figured out and built in to their systems. They have distribution centers who can print and mail tickets out to customers. They have the paperwork all figured out for doing online sales transactions.

For a lot of venues, the overhead of doing all that simply outweighs the cost of letting a third party do it for them.

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Postby connor35 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:39 pm

Thanks, folks. Those are good points that improved my understanding of the situation.

Seems like an unmet need: A piece of software where you could input your seating arrangement and use the software sell / track each seat.

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Postby Fred » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:01 am

cmooreNC wrote:But don't get me started on all those venues that then charge you a "service fee" at the box office itself....

Good point, Chris. That's the one thing I found odd about Westhampton Beach PAC. Altho the face ticket prices were quite reasonable, they put a $6 "convenience fee" on tickets ordered directly from them online. Is it possible that there is some sort of ticketing service they use for seat selection, etc. (but that works transparently and doesn't brand itself, unlike Tktmstr), that charges them a fee they need to make back? I'm not really complaining in this case, because the prices were still quite good with the $6 added on...just different.

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Postby cmooreNC » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:52 am

Fred wrote:
cmooreNC wrote:But don't get me started on all those venues that then charge you a "service fee" at the box office itself....

Good point, Chris. That's the one thing I found odd about Westhampton Beach PAC. Altho the face ticket prices were quite reasonable, they put a $6 "convenience fee" on tickets ordered directly from them online. Is it possible that there is some sort of ticketing service they use for seat selection, etc. (but that works transparently and doesn't brand itself, unlike Tktmstr), that charges them a fee they need to make back? I'm not really complaining in this case, because the prices were still quite good with the $6 added on...just different.


Yes, that is probably the case. But again, you were actually ordering via an online service.... so that's not the type of service charge or "convenience fee" that irks me. It's when you literally make the trek to the box office yourself and then find, when you're there, that there are service fees added. In other words, there is absolutely no way you can actually purchase a ticket at "face value". Many, if not all, of the Live Nation operated venues are doing this now. I find that situation to be just plain wrong, in my book.
Chris

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Postby Fred » Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:46 pm

cmooreNC wrote:
Fred wrote:
cmooreNC wrote:But don't get me started on all those venues that then charge you a "service fee" at the box office itself....

Good point, Chris. That's the one thing I found odd about Westhampton Beach PAC. Altho the face ticket prices were quite reasonable, they put a $6 "convenience fee" on tickets ordered directly from them online. Is it possible that there is some sort of ticketing service they use for seat selection, etc. (but that works transparently and doesn't brand itself, unlike Tktmstr), that charges them a fee they need to make back? I'm not really complaining in this case, because the prices were still quite good with the $6 added on...just different.


Yes, that is probably the case. But again, you were actually ordering via an online service.... so that's not the type of service charge or "convenience fee" that irks me. It's when you literally make the trek to the box office yourself and then find, when you're there, that there are service fees added. In other words, there is absolutely no way you can actually purchase a ticket at "face value". Many, if not all, of the Live Nation operated venues are doing this now. I find that situation to be just plain wrong, in my book.

I see what you mean. In a way, it's like buying a car with mandatory "upgrade packs", except in those cases you get *something* for the money (not usually something you want, and never something worth the price, tho). What you describe is basically bait and switch pricing, which I'm sure is perfectly legal when they show the itty bitty print about it at the bottom of the page. Nasty business. In a soft market like the current one, you'd think there might be a tendency for these things to go away, but the absence of real competition for individual show sales blunts the market forces. It's basically a monopoly situation. It's interesting to watch how the sharks migrate as the "music business" shifts from an emphasis on record sales to an emphasis on live performance.

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Postby Steve » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:17 pm

Not to defend the practice, but I suspect that unless the box office holds onto a certain number of physical tickets just for walk-ups and never tells the online system they exist, then when they sell one they have to go through the same reservations system to flag those seats as "taken" with the online system. So, in essence, they're charging us the fee for going through the online system for us...

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Postby Fred » Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:20 am

Steve wrote:Not to defend the practice, but I suspect that unless the box office holds onto a certain number of physical tickets just for walk-ups and never tells the online system they exist, then when they sell one they have to go through the same reservations system to flag those seats as "taken" with the online system. So, in essence, they're charging us the fee for going through the online system for us...

Actually, that makes a great deal of sense. Could be.

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Postby cmooreNC » Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:48 pm

Fred wrote:
Steve wrote:Not to defend the practice, but I suspect that unless the box office holds onto a certain number of physical tickets just for walk-ups and never tells the online system they exist, then when they sell one they have to go through the same reservations system to flag those seats as "taken" with the online system. So, in essence, they're charging us the fee for going through the online system for us...

Actually, that makes a great deal of sense. Could be.


Um... probably not true, at least usually. For the show I did here in Charlotte last December, the venue was hooked in with Ticketmaster. But those wanting to buy tickets to "my" show could physically make the trek to the box office and there were no service fees charged whatsoever. I made sure of that. For example, a $50 ticket was $51 (as there was a $1 per ticket "facility fee" applicable to any and ALL tickets, and I also made sure that was in all of our advertising). The same "$50" ticket ordered online or on the phone directly through Ticketmaster ran about $62-$63, as Ticketmaster added significant service charges. I also sold about 150 tickets through our office at the Charlotte Rescue Mission. We were able to sell those as if they were straight from the box office (as that is literally where I had to go pick them up, of course, and I had to deliver a check for all of them at the time I picked them up), without any service charges (other than the $1 facility fee). The facility fee itself was mandated by law as a "depreciation charge" for the venue upkeep, as it is a public building.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if a venue, act, or promoter wants to make sure that the general public can actually purchase a ticket at the "face value" price, it can be done. It just has to be written into all the various contracts and then enforced. If there are charges that need to be built into the ticket price in order to make sure they're covered, then by all means add them into the face ticket price.

I recently purchased some heavily discounted, special promotion price, Snow Patrol tickets for my daughter for a show coming up in Denver in October. The advertised price was $5 per ticket. I bought two. The total for the order was $27 (and none of that was actually shipping, believe it or not). Yes, it was an online Live Nation order, but that's a markup in "service fees" of 170%. That's ridiculous. And yet the concert business wonders why it's struggling in a difficult economy! Go figure. Those involved need not look too far....
Chris

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Postby Fred » Sat Aug 29, 2009 7:26 pm

cmooreNC wrote:
Fred wrote:
Steve wrote:Not to defend the practice, but I suspect that unless the box office holds onto a certain number of physical tickets just for walk-ups and never tells the online system they exist, then when they sell one they have to go through the same reservations system to flag those seats as "taken" with the online system. So, in essence, they're charging us the fee for going through the online system for us...

Actually, that makes a great deal of sense. Could be.


Um... probably not true, at least usually. For the show I did here in Charlotte last December, the venue was hooked in with Ticketmaster. But those wanting to buy tickets to "my" show could physically make the trek to the box office and there were no service fees charged whatsoever. I made sure of that. For example, a $50 ticket was $51 (as there was a $1 per ticket "facility fee" applicable to any and ALL tickets, and I also made sure that was in all of our advertising). The same "$50" ticket ordered online or on the phone directly through Ticketmaster ran about $62-$63, as Ticketmaster added significant service charges. I also sold about 150 tickets through our office at the Charlotte Rescue Mission. We were able to sell those as if they were straight from the box office (as that is literally where I had to go pick them up, of course, and I had to deliver a check for all of them at the time I picked them up), without any service charges (other than the $1 facility fee). The facility fee itself was mandated by law as a "depreciation charge" for the venue upkeep, as it is a public building.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if a venue, act, or promoter wants to make sure that the general public can actually purchase a ticket at the "face value" price, it can be done. It just has to be written into all the various contracts and then enforced. If there are charges that need to be built into the ticket price in order to make sure they're covered, then by all means add them into the face ticket price.

I recently purchased some heavily discounted, special promotion price, Snow Patrol tickets for my daughter for a show coming up in Denver in October. The advertised price was $5 per ticket. I bought two. The total for the order was $27 (and none of that was actually shipping, believe it or not). Yes, it was an online Live Nation order, but that's a markup in "service fees" of 170%. That's ridiculous. And yet the concert business wonders why it's struggling in a difficult economy! Go figure. Those involved need not look too far....


Well, fans could boycott TM and LN, and tell artists they were skipping their shows on account of it, if they chose. Might not make any difference to huge acts like U2 or Coldplay, but smaller artists might notice, and this might retard the penetration of these services into every little venue in the US.

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Postby cmooreNC » Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:14 pm

Actually I think Live Nation may already be "getting the message", at least a little bit. Throughout the summer they have repeatedly run "no service fee Wednesdays", where their online service has sold tickets without any service fees (at least for lawn tickets at amphitheatres). I've talked with several people that have taken advantage of these sales, so I'd be very surprised if they (Live Nation) weren't noticing a significant uptick in sales on those days. And if most of these same shows aren't selling out in total, that means the ticket sales generated on these "no fee" days are pretty much extra sales that they simply wouldn't have gotten with the normal charges. So hopefully they're doing the math and realizing the impact (i.e. total ticket sales made in those cases are generating more $ than the service fees lost).

For many acts the entire ticket price thing has simply gotten out of hand. The artists (or their management agencies) usually claim that they don't set the ticket prices, but that's really a bunch of hooey. What a show costs to produce is what determines how tickets are priced.

But I am very scared by the whole "mergers and acquisitions" trend in the live music business. Competition is good for generating lower prices. If there are only one or two promoters out there bidding for most shows, or even most TOURS (as often Live Nation or AEG Live will book an entire tour for an act, rather than just certain dates in certain markets), then clearly this can't be a good thing, ultimately, for the consumers who buy the tickets.

And this potential merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation.... well, I can't envision that it's really going to make things better for the business, despite some arguments to the contrary.
Chris

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Postby Fred » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:19 pm

cmooreNC wrote:...I am very scared by the whole "mergers and acquisitions" trend in the live music business. Competition is good for generating lower prices...

Amen to that. It's worse than it looks. From a business perspective, I suppose, one could argue that there is a multiplicity of shows with many promoters, hence a real opportunity for competition. However, most fans don't just want to see a show, but a show by a particular artist, and in that case there is rarely any venue/promoter choice, unless the artist happens to be local and doing lots of off-tour gigging (like Vienna in NYC over the last couple of years--aah). Sure, I'll sometimes catch an act I never heard of (say, if I'm on vacation and happen to be in a Key West bar or something, or maybe at an outdoor summer concert series) and sometimes that will be a great thing, but that's not the norm for me or, likely, many people. In general we want to see who we want to see, and we get a choice of 1 venue/1 promoter when the artist comes through our town. That's no competition at all.

By the way, I was online looking to buy tickets for Richard Thompson & Loudon Wainwright at Westhampton Beach lastnite & noticed that, as I suspected, their online ticketing was "powered by" some processing service or other (not TM, and this is not a LN venue, for sure), which I'm sure explains the "convenience charge". This seems legitimate to me, as long as they are not also charging the extra $6 at the box office, which I don't know directly either way. Also btw if anybody wants to go to that show, act fast; they're about 3/4 sold out, maybe 50 seats left, none excellent. Expensive, for folk music, too.


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