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Ticketmaster returns $500m to artists and event organisers from resale market

Ticketmaster said it has captured over $500m for artists and event organisers from resale markets in 2022 alone as it responded to criticism over its use of dynamic pricing for the recent Bruce Springsteen on-sale.

The ticketing giant was slammed earlier this month by influential US Congressman Bill Pascrell, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, in connection with the sale of tickets to see Springsteen on his major US tour between February and April 2023. In a letter sent to Live Nation chief executive Michael Rapino, Pascrell, the principal sponsor of the BOSS Act, claimed “fans were shocked after being asked to pay outrageous markups to obtain tickets”.

Ticketmaster has now given further details about the Springsteen sale after Pascrell demanded answers as to how Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s “secretive dynamic pricing scheme impacts consumers”.

Ticketmaster said the average price of all Springsteen tickets sold was $262, with just 1.3% costing more than $1,000, 56% for under $200 and 18% under $99.

It added that it was one of more than four ticketing marketplaces who sold tickets using dynamic pricing for the tour and reiterated that promoters and artist representatives set pricing strategy and price range parameters on all tickets. The utilisation of dynamic pricing has, it said, returned $500m from the $10bn resale market in 2022 alone.

Ticketmaster added that demand for the best seats in the house has driven the average price for concert tickets up 10% globally this year, which remains largely in line with the rate of US inflation. It also said the average price for entry level concert tickets is $33, up only 5% from 2019 – “not even keeping pace with inflation”.

Ticketmaster said in a statement: “As the resale ticketing market has grown to more than a $10bn industry over the past few years, artists and teams have lost that revenue to resellers who have no investment in the event going well or any of the people working behind the scenes to bring the event to life. As such, event organisers have looked to market-based pricing to recapture that lost revenue.

“This is an important shift necessary to maintaining the vibrancy and creativity of the live music industry as artists and their crews become more and more reliant on touring. Like sports teams, artist representatives and promoters recognise the benefit of pricing tickets closer to market value.

“Dynamic pricing is about capturing more value for the artist at the initial onsale, vs that value going to people reselling tickets on the secondary market. Dynamic pricing is just one tool that artists use to support pricing strategies.”

In its statement, Ticketmaster added that it had made a series of recommendations on how the ticketing industry could be improved in testimony given to the Federal Trade Commission in 2019. These included all-in pricing, resale tickets showing the original price paid, and the enforcement of state anti-bot regulations.

In his note to Rapino, Pascrell wrote: “I write on behalf of my constituents and fans across the country that are excited for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band’s 2023 tour. Hard-working Americans who are fans of Bruce and other popular entertainers should have the ability to enjoy live entertainment without ticket-sales practices that rip off consumers.

“To help fans better understand the frustratingly opaque process that leads to such high prices, I am inquiring about the veracity of the company’s statement, as well as the policies and prices the company has put in place for this tour.”

Pascrell’s BOSS Act, introduced in 2016, would impose greater levels of transparency upon the ticket industry so fans have a chance to purchase tickets on the primary market and also seeks to protect consumers who choose to use the secondary market to purchase tickets. The bill received a hearing in an Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee in 2016 but stalled. Pascrell is working to reintroduce the legislation this year.