Dreaming Of A World Without Ticket Fees
Your favorite source for news on the worldwide controversy surrounding ticket fees - Fee Free Friday - is back! This week the dream of a world without (unreasonable) tickets fees remains unrealized. Will profits from ticket buyer metadata eclipse ticket fees? The owner of a ticket outlet becomes a billionaire, wanna guess how all that money was made? Plus yet another consumer alert on ticket fees has been published by a major news outlet. All that and the weekly Wall of Woe!
Metadata > Ticket Fees?
Regular readers of Fee Free Friday will recall the blockbuster financial report published by Live Nation earlier this year. At the time, the staggering profits report showed the ticketing industry giant was doing a brisk business around the world selling tickets for all kinds of events, not just music concerts.
This week, the Financial Times published [subscription required] a follow-up on Live Nation and notes that the industry giant still has a few tangled knots to untie with its takeover of Ticketmaster.
Life for Live Nation has not always been smooth since the Ticketmaster takeover, with the deal facing considerable regulatory scrutiny before it was eventually given the all-clear in 2010. More recently, Irving Azoff, the combative manager of acts including The Eagles and Christina Aguilera, quit as Live Nation chairman in January.
FT also mentions the positive forecast Live Nation has for future use of customer data, which is describes a “treasure trove.”
In Ticket Fees Are Spying On You, the newly launched technology that analyzes ticket buyers’ purchases was compared to the recent revelations of the PRISM surveillance program. Now, with this week’s FT article, even more light is being shed on how ticket buyers so-called “metadata” may be poised to eclipse ticket fees as the preferred profit making method.
The company also realized it was sitting on a treasure trove of customer data from 400,000,000 customers. When Live Nation bought Ticketmaster there were 14 fragmented databases that didn't talk to each other. The company has built one global database “to bring the data to life.”
Both Ticketmaster and Live Nation are well within their rights to make use of ticket buyer metadata as they see fit, as it is clearly stated in the Terms of Service during the purchase process. What is not so clear is if the metadata has become so valuable that it will trigger a reduction of the fees charged to consumers. This of course would have to be a voluntary effort made by Live Nation, effectively saying to its customers “We've found a new way to monetize tickets, so we are going to lower the fees and service charges.”
Then again, the billions of dollars made from the metadata could be combined with the billions made from tickets fees, a doubling down on the hapless ticket buyer.
Achtung Ticket Fees
Live Nation isn't the only big ticket outlet with eye-popping profits. In Munich, Germany the owner of CTS Eventim, a Mr. Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, just broke through the one billion dollar barrier and is now ranked on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
Schulenberg’s net worth, previously pegged at ~$900 million, is based on his fifty-percent ownership in CTS, Europe’s second largest ticket outlet. The jump to the billionaires club comes in spite of the recent ruling against CTS in a lawsuit against Live Nation, according to Bloomberg.
In 2007, CTS struck a 10-year contract to provide sales technology to Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter. Live Nation terminated the contract three years later, after merging with Ticketmaster...CTS then sued Live Nation [in the] International Court of Arbitration, a case it lost last week. The judgment, which could’ve awarded as much as $210 million to CTS.
Are ticket fees so profitable that CTS can lose a $200 million contract with Live Nation and still see company owner Schulenberg become a billionaire? The answer may be a matter of simple mathematics...
Through its website and 20,000 locations across Europe, CTS sold about 100 million tickets to more than 180,000 events last year, its annual report said. It operates entertainment venues and organizes concert tours, festivals and other live events in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the U.K. The average ticket fee is $4.00.
That’s $400 million in profit from ticket fees in a single fiscal year - more than double what it sought in its suit with Live Nation.
Don't Get Taken By Ticket Fees
"Buyer beware", "Caveat Emptor" and "News 7 on your side" are common titles for ticket fee exposés. Those exposés reach an audience of millions, as seen nearly every week here in Fee Free Friday. And this week is no different with the latest ticket fee warning for consumers from Salem, Indiana.
The Salem Democrat consumer warning is a mix of Do's & Don'ts for buying concert tickets plus a healthy dose of dire about high ticket fees:
Watch for hidden fees. Some websites include service charges and additional shipping fees with the purchase of tickets. While these charges should be identified on the website and disclosed to you before the transaction is finalized, read the fine print to make sure you know the total cost that will be billed to your account.
The well written advice will be helpful for the ticket buying public as the Summer concert season kicks into full swing.
The volume and frequency of these consumer protection reports, in aggregate, is what is most troubling. Event ticket fees are the focus of news investigations and consumer alerts more often than any other subject. That should give venues a moment's pause. Getting swept up in an investigative report is not in the best interest of any business, despite the old (and inaccurate) adage "There's no such thing as bad press."
And the negative business impact of being the subject of a TV news investigation about unreasonable ticket fees pales in comparison to what social media can bring to bear on a venue's reputation. Speaking of...
Wall of Woe - Dreams Turn To Nightmares Edition
Another week. Another one million people expressing their disdain for outrageous per-ticket fees. The Wall of Woe is the best of the best (...or is that the worst of the worst?) in what is being said, curated as a continuing reminder it takes just one tweet to bring a fee-laden event to the attention of thousands - for all the wrong reasons.
ThunderTix Never Charges You Or Your Customers Per-Ticket Fees
The "dream" Stacey Lansing speaks of can be a reality, and it is easy to achieve too - but only if you are using the right online ticketing software.
ThunderTix does not charge you per-ticket fees. You can sell tickets online with no fees. We let you decide on what fees to charge, if any, and provide the tools to intelligently mange how they are presented during the ticket purchase process. If your current ticketing software charges you and/or your customers fees, consider switching to ThunderTix. If you need to see for yourself how much money you could save by switching to ThunderTix, check out our online ticket fee calculator.