Does Ticketmaster think we're stupid?
You may remember that in 1994, Pearl Jam canceled its summer tour to protest service charges that Ticketmaster was adding to their tickets. At that time, the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating the company's practices. This led to two members of the band testifying at a subcommittee investigation. The investigation was ultimately dropped.
For the next three years, Pearl Jam continued its boycott against the ticket-selling giant and effectively played only a handful of shows in America, at non-Ticketmaster venues.
In 1998, realizing that many fans were unable to obtain tickets to see the band in such venues, Pearl Jam begrudgingly began using Ticketmaster again.
It's a shame that more bands didn't follow Pearl Jam's lead in the fight against the ticket-selling giant. Even now, nearly two decades after that high-profile fight, it seems that Ticketmaster has gotten only greedier.
The company has since merged with Live Nation, an American entertainment company, which has made it even more difficult to avoid those annoying charges and fees when buying concert tickets.
While recently checking out upcoming concerts in the area, I was appalled at the amount that Ticketmaster has begun adding to concert tickets. Here are a few examples of what I found:
Aerosmith is playing the Marcus Ampthitheater on July 7 during Milwaukee's Summerfest.
Base ticket prices: $25-$90
Grand total: $50.20-$119.75
This effectively increases the price of the cheapest ticket to that show by 100%. It's ironic that Cheap Trick is opening the show, as Ticketmaster seems to have pulled a cheap trick on the ticket-buying public.
Phish is playing East Troy's Alpine Valley Music Theatre (which is owned by Live Nation) from June 30-July 1.
Base ticket prices: $42-$57
Grand total: $57.85-$74.40
Not quite as bad as the Aerosmith example, but still an increase of about 40% above the advertised ticket price for the cheapest ticket.
The Black Keys are playing Milwaukee's Bradley Center on May 16.
Base ticket price: $33-$47.50
Grand total: $44.80-$61.35
An increase of about 35% over the advertised ticket price of the cheapest ticket is about the lowest I found for any large Milwaukee-area venue.
This is the main reason that many people don't go to many live concerts any more (myself included). Unfortunately, the public doesn't have a lot of choice when it comes to concerts held anywhere other than a bar or nightclub. It's even better than they call some of these fees "convenience charges." Oh, the irony.
The ticket prices and fees generally get larger as you go to bigger markets, like Chicago or Minneapolis. While the base price of a ticket largely depends on who you're seeing, the additional fees make it almost impossible for someone like me to take my wife and kid to a concert.
When it's all said and done, you're basically paying the equivalent of another ticket. It really makes me believe that Ticketmaster thinks the general ticket-buying American public is stupid. Sound familiar?
Don't even get me started on Ticketmaster's online interface. Could somebody explain to me why when I search multiple times for tickets to a certain show, it keeps giving me the same ones? Are you telling me that in an arena with a capacity of 25,000 that there are only three tickets left in the entire place? And they're obstructed view? I call shenanigans.
Of course, about the only way for the public to boycott Ticketmaster is to give up going to concerts altogether, but I'm not necessarily wiling to do that. Like so many other things in this day and age, you just have to grin and bear it. But that doesn't make it right.