Madea Hates Ticket Fees
Tyler Perry has just had it with ticket fees. So much so he has cancelled all future 'Madea Live' performances because of unreasonable ticket fees. We look at the fall-out for fans and the lost revenue for venues in this week's Fee Free Friday. Plus Salt Lake city says ticket fees are a good thing (huh?) and we hear comedy fans bemoan ticket fees that are 30% of the purchase price.
Read on to find why Madea is yelling: “You like making me angry, don't you?!"
Madea Hates Ticket Fees
The ugly spectre of high ticket fees has claimed another victim.
Yesterday, every major entertain news outlet was splashed with the same headline "Want proof of how mind-bogglingly frustrating the concert ticket industry can be? One of the most powerful men in Hollywood just threw up his hands in defeat."
That powerful person was actor and comedian Tyler Perry, famous for his beloved Madea character. But this is no laughing matter since unreasonably high ticket fees have stopped Perry fans from seeing him perform.
Expressing outrage with ticket fees, Perry has cancelled his in-person appearances with 'Madea Live'. Perry said he had attempted to set prices for the show at $25, $45 and $65, but has seen ticket fees almost double. From his website:
The reason I set the price so low is so that everyone could get a chance to come out and see the show. I know how tight things are right now. I do is make sure that the promoter sets a reasonable ticket price and the prices are $25, $45 and $65. Even though I set these prices so that they are affordable, fees are added that are out of my control and the price of the tickets can almost double. I've been dealing with this for years but now with the Internet I've never seen it this bad.
Perry goes on to apologize to his fans:
To all of you who have bought tickets and made plans to be there I am so sorry. I really am but my hands are tied. This was the last live Madea tour and I'm super sorry that you won't get to see it live.
Note the repercussion directly attributable to unreasonable fees - Tyler Perry has ended all future 'Madea Live' performances, there will be no more. The 'Madea Live' shows have consistently sold out every performance and generated millions for venues and the ancillary businesses nearby.
So, were those ticket fees worth it?
There is talk of Tyler Perry adopting fellow comedian Louis C.K solution to the pain point of ticket fees. The ticket industry disrupting Louis has successfully taken control over the distribution and pricing of tickets for his national comedy tour. Earlier this year, Louis wrote on his website:
My goal here is that people coming to see my shows are able to pay a fair price and that they be paying just for a ticket. Not also paying an exorbitant fee for the privilege of buying a ticket.
The Twilight of Our Discontent
Christopher Smart wrote in the The Salt Lake Tribune that concert fees have made an improvement for the citizens of the Utah state capitol. Smart says that an increase in fees for the city's Twilight concerts have lowered the amount of tax dollars used to underwrite the event. The concerts used to be free to attend but have just recently been assigned a five dollar entrance fee.
The jump from free to a $5 fee is cited early on as the reason for the waning popularity of the Twilight concerts. Oddly the downward spiral of attendance is apparently offset by the increased number of performances, from seven to nine. Smart does the math:
This year’s Thursday evening Pioneer Park gigs averaged about 17,000 music fans and went as high as 25,000. Before the $5 entrance fees, concert crowds regularly swelled beyond 30,000. The average attendance was about 33,000, according to the Salt Lake City Arts Council, which stages the shows.
That statistic is of note for venues grappling with ticket fees and sheds some light into possible strategies for amortizing costs through per-ticket fees.
The fiscally conservative news outlet touts the fees as a triumph for taxpayers, and goes on to describe the just how many of the subsidies and underwriting have been reduced because of the new entrance fee. The elephant in the room not addressed in Smart's report are is the opinion of the people who attend the concerts. A Fee Free Friday follow-up will give the voices a forum, rest assured.
(More) Anarchy In the UK
English stand-up comedian Sarah Millican announced she is boycotting boycott Britain's largest theatre chain because of "the crippling extra fees" they charge customers.
Millican had announced her tour only a few weeks ago before this latest fan disappointment directly attributable to unreasonable ticket fees. She writes on her website about the matter:
Some of you will notice that I’m not playing some of the venues I played on my last tour, those venues are owned and run by The Ambassador Theatre Group. I don't agree with the extra charges ATG put on top of the face value ticket price to you the customer and a number of other restrictions they have in place so that’s why I've avoided their venues this time round.
News of the donnybrook between Sarah Millican and the fee crazy venues sparked up a emotional conversation on the comedy performances fansite Chortle. In the Chortle forums the contentious issues of ticket fees becomes our weekly Wall of Woe all by itself. The forum comments made by fans of comedian Sarah Millican are not easy to stomach
"This is abhorrent..."
"Good on you Sarah, ticket fees are such a rip off, the one of charging you to use your own electricity, paper and ink to print tickets off at home is a sick joke."
"A £20 ticket for her show at the Manchester Apollo comes with a £2.75 booking fee per ticket and a £3.25 cost to have them posted to you - or even printed at home - making a total of £6 on top of the basic cost for a single seat."
"They should just include it in the price of the ticket, you know, like every single other business does with their service."
"I can see why you'd penalise people for using phone booking rather than internet, as that requires human staff in an office, rather than a machine to do it. But when they are the same price, you're getting screwed either way."
"You support ridiculous ticket price add ons, you support rip off 'bringer gig', one might suspect enjoy being ripped off or you actually run one of these rip off gigs."
Superstar Tyler Perry and Sarah Millican joined Louis CK and Amanda Palmer as high profile cases against unreasonable per-ticket fees and service charges. Big celebrity names amplify the issue at a volume that is much higher than the longer suffering ticket buyers or even the United States Congress. Does it really have to be like this? Must we have more bad press for venues, and even worse negative attention for the ticketing industry as a whole?
We say no.
We have written our thoughts on the best practices for ticket fees in ‘Sell Tickets Online with No Fees’ which you are encouraged to read. ThunderTix online ticketing software has industry leading tools that give you complete control over fees and services charges – including the option to go fee free.