Live Nation To Challenge Ticketmaster, Sell Fans More Junk

The nation’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation, is ditching Ticketmaster to build its own ticketing system. Live Nation may not be as soul-crushingly evil as Ticketmaster—we hear they issue refunds!—but their goal in breaking away is to squeeze more profit from customers by hawking “additional merchandise.”

Live Nation, like other concert promoters, receives a part of the service charges added to tickets sold through Ticketmaster: that money added roughly $90 million to Live Nation’s books in the last year. In the Eventim deal, Live Nation would have the right to set — and keep — virtually all fees added to tickets in the United States, a person briefed on the deal said. The two companies would operate under a more traditional revenue-sharing deal in certain international markets.

Live Nation has long pushed to take a bigger role in ticket sales, and recently told investors that such a move could bolster profit. The company’s concert promotion business has thin margins. Live Nation could add $25 million by taking the ticketing process in-house, according to an investor note last month from John Blackledge, a JPMorgan analyst.

Live Nation’s chief executive, Michael Rapino, has also sought tighter control over the relationship with fans. In particular, Mr. Rapino has pressed for Live Nation to control customer data from ticket buyers as part of a strategy to sell fans additional merchandise.

Ticketmaster’s godless 30% markup leaves plenty of room for competition, but we are wary of any company that feigns interest in a relationship. Those scoundrels, they all want the same thing. Still, a ticketing company that issues refunds would be a welcome change of pace. Live Nation’s ticketing system is expected to come online at the start of 2009.

Top Concert Promoter Sets Up a Challenge to Ticketmaster [NYT]
Live Nation to Team with CTS Eventim for Ticketing []
PREVIOUSLY: Wolfmother Won’t Rock, But Live Nation Will Refund
Live Nation Continues To Rock!
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)


Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    Any competition is good….

  2. laserjobs says:

    Livenation charged me $3 for a show that was cancelled and would not refund it. They can go to hell.

  3. bsbeamer says:

    Been looking for alternatives since 1994-1996. Pearl Jam tried to go fully non-Ticketmaster – went through FT&T and played some scarce venues in 1996 that were NOT TicketMaster (TicketBastard) owned. I went to Randall’s Island in NYC at the time, but now I think that is a TicketMaster venue, or at least has a relationship with them – go figure.

    This industry has seen a huge decline in service to its customers for a LONG time, and it only gets worse. And unfortunately, we (consumers) deal with it. Partially because there is no alternative if you want to go see a show… and partially because this is what we have grown accustomed to.

    If you want a good seat to a show, you need to go through them, a broker, a scalper, or just wait for the DVD (or BluRay).

  4. Ideapimp says:


    C’mon $3? You lose that in the couch in a week. Ticketmaster is pure evil, though. Before I bought my last Ticketmaster tickets I looked and sure enough the time, date and place were all correct.

    When the tix arrived, they were for a different month in Minnesota and I live in Dallas. They accuse me of not checking, refuse to issue a refund and weren’t apologetic in the least.

    This is good news for me, it means that I might be able to see some bands I like now that I don’t have to violate my Ticketmaster boycott to do so.

  5. kingKonqueror says:

    “…from customers by hocking “additional merchandise.”

    Hock·ing /ˈhɒkɪŋ/
    William Ernest, 1873-1966, U.S. philosopher.

    hawk 2 (hôk)
    v. hawked, hawk·ing, hawks
    v. intr.
    To peddle goods aggressively, especially by calling out.

  6. laserjobs says:


    Please paypal me $3. I will send you nothing.

  7. says:

    FINALLY. i’m a music industry major and this topic has been discussed in all of my classes.

    any system can work as long as theirs some sharable database that can alert what seats are sold and when the concert is sold out. i’m excited for this because i really hate ticket master and i love the competitive market.

    @Ideapimp: yes, you loose $3 in the couch every week, but this $3 more going to ticketmaster. not cool.

  8. says: woops, not to ticketmaster but to live nation. i need to proof read more often.

  9. Warbrain says:

    Live Nation, to me, is still the scum of all concert promoters because they are just a spun off company from Clear Channel, which is the biggest bitch of all.

    I’m fortunate enough to have a large promoting company in Chicago – Jam – that operates 3 facilities on their own and will also do sports events and the Allstate Arena. They’ve been trying to expand nationwide and have been in court with Ticketmaster and Live Nation for some time now.

  10. SuperJdynamite says:

    “but their goal in breaking away is to squeeze more profit from customers by hawking ‘additional merchandise.'”

    Offering merchandise based on past purchases is hardly anything new. At least I have the option of not buying the additional merchandise, whereas service fees are mandatory.

  11. saltmine says:

    @kingKonqueror: Hock [2]
    Informal term for ‘pawn’

    In this case, either usage is acceptable.

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    So does this mean less money from merchandise sales will go to the artists?

    I really doubt that more money from ticket sales will.

  13. TechnoDestructo says:


    Are you able to elaborate on what you are suing or being sued over?

  14. econobiker says:

    How about “live” price bidding for tickets to make the concerts more money instead of scalpers?

  15. ARP says:

    Don’t most venues have exclusivity agreements with TicketMaster? Meaning, they can’t use other ticket providers even if they want to unless they want to break their agreement or not renew it. That’s a scary proposition for a lot of venues.

  16. pylon83 says:

    I don’t think Warbrain OWNS the promoting company, I think he just didn’t use the best wording when explaining that Jam promotions exists in Chicago. I could be reading it wrong, but I don’t read it as Warbrain owns the company.

  17. Mr. Chip says:

    LiveNation == Clearchannel.

    Here’s my sob story: LiveNation promoted an Underworld show in at Red Rocks in Denver last fall. Even though the band was already playing in SF, friends of mine from the bay area flew out here to see Underworld at Red Rocks because it’s such an amazing and famous venue. Also, the Red Rocks show was announced 2 months before the San Francisco show. Underworld tours very infrequently in the US (every 5 years or so), and they’re a reliable act that constantly sells out stadiums all over the world.

    So what does LiveNation do? They underpromote the show, don’t sell enough tickets for Red Rocks, and move the show to the Warfield Denver. People from San Francisco can go see a show at the REAL Warfield. They don’t need to fly to Denver.

    What did LiveNation do for them, after I launched an EECB on their behalf? Gave them a pass so they could cram 8 people into a tiny box seat meant for 4, at the back of the venue, way away from the band, with no room to dance or become part of the crowd.

    This doesn’t even get into the forced promo deals with Clearchannel radio stations, venue exclusivity contracts, or any of the other nasty, nasty, shady things Clearchannel does.

    LiveNation is ClearChannel, and ClearChannel is evil. Don’t be fooled by the name change, it’s the same bastards in a new suit.

  18. humphrmi says:

    It’s not the “sell[ing] fans more junk” that worries me, it’s the trying to sell me junk that bothers me.

    With Ticketmaster, every time I buy a ticket I have to take their domain out of my blacklist, just to get the confirmation. Then, I have to put it back into my blacklist, because inevitably they will ignore my stated wishes and start sending me spam.

    Thanks to Linux, I have a script that does this for me ;-).

  19. FLConsumer says:

    ClearChannel vs. Ticketmaster… No win.

  20. TechnoDestructo says:


    Whoever wins…we lose.

    (See, Alien vs. Predator was good for something…god damn that line is useful)

  21. coren says:

    @laserjobs: Ticketmaster refunds none of their service charges, which I guarantee will be more than 3 bucks per ticket on anything

  22. coren says:

    @bsbeamer: I’m lucky, in the NW we have Ticketwest, which still charges some fees, but not the “fees on two tickets add up to the price of a third” style that ticketmaster does.

  23. pnkseashel says:

    LiveNation signed me up for a year of entertainment weekly the last time I bought tickets. I had to fight with EW on the phone to find out how they got my address and why I was receiving the magazine.

  24. AW99 says:

    @ARP: It’s my understanding that Live Nation/Clear Channel owns the House of Blues in Chicago. I’m not sure about the rest of the HOB locations.

    I try to bypass ticket master as much as possible by buying the ticket at the venue. Then again, I bands I see aren’t ones doing shows in huge stadiums.

    As side note, anyone know how this will work with Madonna’s deal with Clear Channel?

  25. milobean says:

    Live Nation may be great at ideas but terrible at execution. Expect multiple tickets sold for same location. Billing multiple times, and system crashing at the first big on sale. Price will be marginal difference as the artist will want a piece of the ticketing action. That’s not counting the countless tie-in with their sponsors. They are kings of value added to sponsors to keep them.

  26. citybuddha says:

    Madonna’s deal with these greedy peeps is just another
    look at where she stands with her fans.
    Free market or not,i don’t see how one can stand paying a fee to hand over your cash.
    The greed in the sports/entertainment industry is so in your face obvious and it’s the probably the easiest one to boycott.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    @laserjobs: i understand your point & that sucks. but consider this: ticketmaster charges you a “convenience fee” of anywhere from $5-$15 NO MATTER HOW YOU BUY THE TICKETS!!!1! buy them on the phone? $10 convenience fee. buy them online? $10 convenience fee. freeze your ass off for 3 days, be the first to buy tix in person (& still get stuck in the nose bleed section)? $10 convenience fee.

    that’s just garbage.

  28. mac-phisto says:

    @TechnoDestructo: LOL. awesome.

  29. Curiosity says:

    Funny. This pops up in my mind every time anyone says something like “You weren’t hurt by your loss of $X, it is an insignificant amount.”

  30. lowlight69 says:

    I stopped going to concerts a long time ago. not because I don’t want to see the artist but because I don’t want to pay all the fees and BS that go with it. If I want to dance and have fun, I fly to SF where my friends are DJ’s, pay the cover and whatever beer I want to drink. It beats pretty much any concert I could have seen.

    while it costs more, i think the money is better spent. :) (although add event parking fees, any food/drink, t-shirt or other junk, etc. and you just about have a flight from Seattle to San Francisco)

  31. axiomatic says:

    Any competition to Ticketmaster is a good thing.

  32. deadlizard says:

    If artists want to make some money now kids refuse to pay for recorded music, they better fix this monopoly.

  33. ralphie99 says:

    I object to the use of the word “godless” to describe ticketmaster. Being godless is a good thing and should not have negative connotations. Ticketmaster is not godless — unbridled greed is their god.