Live Nation spars with senator over its vow to ditch hidden ticket fees
Live Nation Entertainment, the concert powerhouse, is sparring with Senator Richard Blumenthal after he questioned the company’s vow to stop hiding extra ticket fees.
The dispute has pitted the country’s largest concert promoter and ticket seller against an increasingly vocal critic of the industry. In July, Blumenthal wrote a letter to Michael Rapino, chief executive of Live Nation, accusing the company of continuing to hide and add “unfair, surprise ticket fees” on top of its advertised prices. He cited an incident in which a fan purchased two floor tickets for the Bruce Springsteen concert at Madison Square Garden for $275 each, only to be charged an additional $74 in fees.
In response, the company said it had ended so-called “Order Processing Fees” on certain tickets to “encourage transparency in ticketing and provide a fairer ticketing experience for fans.” Blumenthal argued that removing certain fees doesn’t go far enough, and urged Live Nation to eliminate “service, optional facility, and convenience fees” as well.
Live Nation had no comment on Blumenthal’s letter, but the company’s president of ticketing, Joe Berchtold, responded via an open letter on the company’s blog. He argued that the fees charged by Live Nation are “clarity fees,” not hidden fees; they allow the cost of services such as printing tickets or delivering them electronically to be “fully transparent.” He also noted that the fees apply to all vendors in the ticketing industry, not just Live Nation.
Blumenthal isn’t convinced. He is now calling on the Justice Department to investigate how the music industry’s pricing practices may harm consumers. The issue is likely to become a major focus of his new push to extend an antitrust review of the industry’s growing concentration of power.