Fee Free Friday - Authors, Municipals, & Scholars
Fee Free Friday gets bookish with the re-release of Dean Budnick and Josh Baron book and an interview with the authors. Updates on the latest ticketing industry news. How the city of Indio, California feels that $800,000.00+ in ticket fees is not enough. And the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute ask where is the outrage for a ticket fee that is 29% of face value.
We have called in some authoritative big markers this week, citing published authors, municipal officials and knowledgeable scholars weighing in on the subject of unreasonable per ticket fees. Do you have what it takes to participate in civil discourse with such a learned group?
Spinner magazine's Benjy Eisen interviews Dean Budnick and Josh Baron, authors of 'Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped' which was orignally released last Summer as a hardcover book.
Eisen writes an apt summary of the book's focus and the ticket industry's love/hate relationship with ticket fees, services charges and scalpers:
The blame can't simply be shifted to the venues or promoters either. As authors Dean Budnick and Josh Baron clearly illustrate, the economics of the concert business are part of a system where cause and effect have resulted in some incredibly expensive nights out. Even for those willing to pay face value, the best seats are often impossible to get. There's a reason for that, too, and the truth isn't always pretty.
With release of a paperback edition this week comes a new, updated chapter that addresses the latest developments in the ticket industry.
The interview took place earlier this week and Eisen cuts to the chase early on, asking Budnick and Baron point blank: "Where do you see, or hope, or fear, the live concert industry going?"
The authors reply:
Budnick: As two people who enjoy live music, a major concern that Josh and I share isthat ticket prices will become so off-putting and that fans will drop so much of the paychecks into one or two shows, that it inhibits the development of emerging acts. Beyond that, as concertgoers, we'd just like it all to feel fun again, allowing people to share meaningful experiences with vital artists without the distraction of all those fees and ancillary charges. We fear that at times those elements cloud the artistry, inspiration and enjoyment of it all.
Baron: The concert industry is constantly changing and evolving -- it's part of what makes it so fascinating. While much has changed over the past 40 years, since the turn of the millennium the change has been increasingly rapid.
Eisen goes on to ask about the paperback's new chapter, which focuses on many of the pain points we cover every week in Fee Free Fridays:
Baron: We ended the hardback edition with the Ticketmaster and Live Nation merger being approved. We wanted to offer readers something new in the paperback but, more importantly, there had been a tremendous amount of movement within the industry over the past few years that we felt compelled to cover. Notably, the failure of the 2010 summer concert season, paperless ticketing and dynamic pricing.
The updated release of 'Ticket Masters' means the authors have taken note of the newest tactics is the on-going war on unreasonable high per ticket fees. Of special note are the credentials each bring to the table.
Dean Budnick, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard's History of American Civilization program and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Josh Baron is the editor-in-chief of Relix magazine, a music-based publication where he has been on staff for more than a decade. and has a B.A. in English.
We strongly encourage all venue owners and event orginizers to read to the entire interview as well as the 'Ticket Masters' book available here:
$800,000.00 in ticket fees is not enough
Golden Voice Entertainment balked at the idea of allowing the city of Indio California, current home of Coachella, to assign a new fee of $18 per ticket. The city is claiming the $800,000.00 in ticket fees they raked in this past Spring was not enough and want more.
The Wrap's Todd Cunningham explains:
Goldenvoice estimates the festival currently generates more than $800,000 in ticket fees, tax revenue on about $9 million in food and beverages sold, and a Transient Occupancy Tax of more than $800,000.
Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett said that the ticket purchase tax was outrageous for all the things we've done with Indio and pledged to also move the Stagecoach Festival from the city. The loss of the two festivals would be a painful blow to the struggling city's economy.
The back and forth between the city and Coachella continues as of this writing and the concertgoers are left in limbo by it since tickets for Coachella 2013 have already gone on sale. Should Golden Voice choose to move to a new location, it is unknown what impact that will have on music fans who have already bought tickets.
Brinkmanship aside, we must wonder if the city of Indio can justify their new $18 per ticket fee with empirical data showing genuine expenditures as the festival’s host, or if this is a case of a municipality profiteering on that backs of concertgoers. More pressing, should push come to shove, can the city of Indio afford to lose Coachella to another, fee free, city.
Where’s the outrage?
The American Enterprise Institute describes itself as a community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise. We cannot think of a more qualified assembly to opine on the issue of unreasonable high ticket fees. Of note, AEI commonly referred to as a think tank for foreign policy - apparently, the war on high ticket fees is now on par with war between militaries of nations.
Recently, AEI penned an OpEd on the subject of fees and the outrageous face value mark-up of concert tickets in their 'Where’s the outrage for evil Ticketmaster?'.
The opinion makes use of statistics and dollar amounts in a format one would normally associate with an academic paper:
Well, how about some outrage for the really, really, truly evil bad guys and ticket-selling monsters – Ticketmaster. Have you checked their fees and paperless ticket restriction lately? If not, here’s what the evil, anti-competitive, anti-fan ticket monopolist is doing, using the Eric Church concert in October at the Joe Louis Arena as an example
If you purchase a $47.50 general admission paperless ticket, you’re hit with a whopping $11.30 ticket charge, which is 24% of the ticket price!
If you purchase a $37.50 reserved seat in the upper bowl, you’ll pay a 29% ticket fee, or $11.05
AEI concludes with what may be the most salient statement we have read all week:
"Charging service fees of 40% to process a ticket order that is both paper-less and now almost cost-less using online technology seems to be clearly unsustainable."
AEI asks “Where’s the outrage?” we know exactly where it is: In the hearts and minds of all event patrons as they are assaulted by unreasonable per ticket fees. Your ThunderTix account allows you to sell tickets online with no fees.
Published authors and scholars have joined the ever rising choir of voices against high ticket fees and service charges and we urge you to lend your voice to the war stories being told.