Battle Royale Over Ticket Fees
A battle royale between the two monsters of the ticketing industry. Winner takes all...the ticket fees. Fee Free Friday is back as the referee for a battle of the ages between Ticketmaster and AEG. And on the under-card we have wrestling fans vs. tickets fees. Also, Maroon 5 fans are desperately seeking Susan reasonable ticket fees and we have a special Pedal to the Metal edition of the Wall of Woe.
Read on to find out who gets caught in the middle as two ticket industry monsters duke it out!
(Hint: It's the hapless ticket buyer. This is Fee Free Friday, who else would it be?)
T-Rex vs. King Kong - Fight!
A big battle developed this week in the Twin Cities when the Target Center announced there are no longer going to be using Ticketmaster as their ticket vendor. The Target Center will be using the AXS system from AEG Live, according to Chris Riemenschneider of the Star Tribune. When reading Riemenschneider's report, 'Target Center ditches Ticketmaster for concerts', the first thing we noticed was the byline: "Ticket buyers will still face steep ticket fees". Oh dear.
The first big question: Will AXS provide a break from the extra fees that have made Ticketmaster the most hated entity in pop music since disco? AXS fees are listed as a single fee right up front. Second, AXS does not charge the oft-scorned print-at-home fee.
Cited are the average ticket fee amounts AEG is currently charging in local area venues. Specifically, the Mill City Nights venue and its $9.50 fee on a $29.50 ticket to see Staind frontman Aaron Lewis - roughly a ticket fee that is 30% of face value!
Also notable in the Riemenschneider report, is David Balcer, Target Center's director of ticketing, down-playing the impact of AEG usurping Ticketmaster:
Ticketmaster took the bad rap for ticket fees because they were the dominant ticketing company for so long, but those fees are still a reality with every new ticketing company that's emerging.
Competition between T-Rex and King Kong should be good for ticket buyers. But that 30% of face value fee doesn't seem to be much benefit. Hopefully AEG will untangle ticket fees from ticket sales and allow venues control the fee amounts. We won't hold our breath (neither should you) but there is always hope.
AEG vs. Ticketmaster wasn't the only ticket fee fight that happened this week...
Wrestling with Fees
As polarizing as professional wrestling maybe, there is no denying it is tremendously popular. Big ticket sales numbers are routinely associated with the self-proclaimed "Greatest spectacle in sports entertainment". This week the flurry of activity surrounding one of wrestling's marquee events, WrestleMania 29, boiled over when it was announced that pre-sale tickets will be available for purchase.
Professional wrestling fan site Wrestling Online posted detailed information about the WresleMania 29 ticket pre-sale just a few hours ago, including pricing. But it was the ticket fees that put us in a sleeper hold:
Ticket prices will range from $35 to $2,000 for ringside plus additional fees and taxes. A $35 ticket will end up costing $49.50 in total while the VIP $2,000 ticket will carry an additional $75.50 in taxes and fees.
Whoa. We'll gloss over that $2,000 price (if that's possible) and focus on the baseline ticket having a $14.90 per-ticket fee.
We've reached out to the the producers of the WWE's biggest event, and will report back should the ticket fee amount reported be in error or changed. Actor and wrestling superstar Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock", charges up fans by asking "Can you smell what The Rock is cookin'?" We hope it is not a big pot of unreasonable ticket fees as the current pre-sale suggests.
In the past, we've admired the professional wrestling industry for their fan-friendly ways. Over the past two decades, the company behind the WrestleMainia events have always put their fans first. A nasty pre-ticket for that amount, especially when the majority demographic is hard work blue collar folk, seems to fly in the face of the historical record.
Our admiration of the WWE's fan friendliness may be moved to someone else...
Desperately Seeking Susan Reasonable Ticket Fees
While Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine has been moonlighting as a judge on the hit TV show 'The Voice', fans of the band have been pining for concert tickets. In the past, those tickets have been laced with steep fees and "convenience charges". A press release front concert ticket clearing house 'Just Cheap Tickets' has us hoping Maroon 5's latest tour will be more fan friendly. From the press release:
Concerts have finally been scheduled, and Maroon 5 concert tickets are now on sale for shows that will take place in U.S. and Canadian cities from February 13 until April 6 2013. Just Cheap Tickets has a large inventory of cheap Maroon 5 tickets that will provide fans who are working with limited funds an opportunity to see a live performance. Ticket prices featured on the website may be lower than prices that are being offered at many other ticket-selling locations.
The details of what Just Cheap means by "provide fans who are working with limited funds an opportunity" wasn't part of the press release, but we like the sound of it.
A quick trip to the Maroon 5 website does not make any mention of the Just Cheap discount, but it is still early in the tour, so maybe the band or Levine himself will confirm the fan outreach for ticket prices.
We want to see more understanding and langue like Just Cheap's "working with fans" industry-wide, and not just for music concerts either. Outrageous per-ticket fees and service charges have brought at least one fan to tears, as we wrote of in the Wall of Woe Halloween Edition.
Wall of Woe - Pedal to the Metal Edition
Fee Free Friday prides itself on finding untold stories of ticket fee induced misery, much of it discovered in unexpected places. This week's Wall of Woe starts with consumer's decrying fees in a forum for guitar sound effect pedals. The conversation started as unhappiness with the price of effect pedals, only to have the subject of ticket fees rear its ugly head...
"I personally find the folks who buy pedals royally suck. No better than ticket scalpers."
Next we find the same old song and dance continuing to be discussed on Twitter. The complaints about ticket fees across social media are so frequent now, one every couple of seconds, we've abandon trying (like ticket buyers have abandon hope) to keep track. Here are the raw tweets:
Saving the worst for last, woe is the venue that sold this person a ticket...
Industry giant fighting over who will get the ticket fees leaves only one loser - the ticket buyer. Unreasonable per-ticket fees are not only bad karma they are bad business. There is a way to run a very profitable event while making your customers very happy – reasonable tickets fees, or none at all.
ThunderTix allows you to sell tickets online with no fees. We encourage you to pass along that savings to the consumer and show them the long term vision of your business is tied directly to their satisfaction. Your patrons will love that you don’t add fees. It’s that simple. Lower ticket costs through no added fees translate into higher sales and greater patron satisfaction.
Image source: Youtube