About seven months after the President vowed to crack down on live entertainment tickets’ “hidden junk fees,” officials from Live Nation, DICE, SeatGeek, and other companies are meeting at the White House to announce their respective commitments to “general” announce or confirm. in upfront pricing.”
The White House formally announced the meeting with executives this morning (and outlined the efforts of the companies represented to eliminate hidden ticket fees). A live stream of the event is scheduled for 10:45am PST. Back in November, the exact same day that Live Nation released its third-quarter 2022 financial results, the president tweeted “hidden junk fees — like concert ticket processing fees.”
Not long before the thinly veiled dig at Live Nation and its subsidiary Ticketmaster — which have continued to post strong financials this year — President Biden had delivered a speech launching a full-scale campaign against allegedly fraudulent banking, airline, resort and… announced credit card fees. And despite the initiative and focus on event tickets, Live Nation executives made it clear they weren’t worried about a potential move to flat-rate pricing.
“We don’t think there would be any impact if there was a statewide mandate for flat-rate pricing,” Joe Berchtold, Live Nation’s president and CFO, stated in November before facing a bipartisan debate in Congress to begin 2023 .
And since Berchtold’s appearance before Congress – a significant part of the related discussion centered around the Eras Tour fiasco – lawmakers have introduced several bills (including the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act, the BOSS and SWIFT Act, the Junk Fee Prevention Act, and most recently the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act (the TICKET Act), which they say would curb the proliferation of excessive and hidden fees.
In light of this — as well as an ongoing Department of Justice antitrust investigation into the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster — the aforementioned companies say they are taking steps to introduce flat-rate pricing.
According to the White House, Live Nation has made a specific commitment to “launch an all-in upfront pricing experience in September.” And the lobbyist-savvy promoter’s Ticketmaster “will also add a feature to allow consumers to receive.” All-inclusive price in advance for all other tickets sold on the platform,” the announcement said.
For its part, SeatGeek “will be rolling out product features over the summer to make it easier for its millions of customers to shop based on flat-rate pricing,” the White House said of the company.
Initial industry reactions to the announcement and the President’s meeting on hidden fees appear to be positive. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), for example, told Digital Music News that the developments represent a step toward “broad ticketing reform.” (Venue Des Moines and NIVA board member xBk has committed to introducing “flat rate pricing for over 15,000 tickets sold for over 100 events,” the White House said.)
“Upfront pricing should be the start of a comprehensive ticketing reform that protects consumers from price gouging and fraudulent practices by predatory resellers,” said Stephen Parker, executive director of NIVA. “Other necessary reforms such as banning speculative tickets and fraudulent websites would further protect consumers in the ticketing market.”