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The Change Begins Here… With YOU.

April 8, 2010

At this point we have all seen that Ticketmaster is not being loyal to us as consumers and is not considering our needs.

It is time for our voices to be heard. Barry Diller clearly isn’t interested in our words, so it is time to start speaking with our dollars.

I have shown you the amount of money that can be saved by boycotting Ticketmaster and now it is time to act. Use alternative ticketing websites, buy your tickets directly from the venues. Avoid Ticketmaster at all costs. The power to create change lies in our hands.

It is time to take the ticketmaster out of the live music experience once and for all.

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Alternatives to Ticketmaster

April 7, 2010

Boycotting Ticketmaster won’t be easy, but since Diller obviously isn’t listening to customer complaints, it is the only way to make him notice us.

Don’t let the artists you love suffer though; supporting their tours is vital with music sales plummeting. Below are a few alternatives I have used. I encourage everyone to post any others they recommend in the comments.

Buy directly from the venue.

If you live close by a music venue, I insist that you to take the time to buy your tickets directly from its box office. It doesn’t take much longer and the extra cash you save will make it worthwhile.

If the venue is too far of a drive check out their website. Many venues have listened to fans and offer alternative ways of getting tickets. For example, The Troubadour in West Hollywood allows ticket buyers to fax in orders at no charge.

Ticketfly.com

Ticketfly is an innovative alternative to Ticketmaster. Its ultimate goal is for users to have a seamless ticket buying experience and for promoters to have a seamless ticket selling process. Ticketfly has started small, but it’s growing fast. It was listed on Fast Company’s 2010 list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.” Right now in California the Fox Theatre , The Glass House, Guerilla Union, Key Club, and Troubadour are exclusively using the site. Hopefully more venues will join soon.

I wanted to see how much a ticket would cost from them, so searched for tickets and found that tickets to a show on the same Kaki King tour from my second post ended up costing only $19.50 after ticketfly’s service fees were included. This saves over $10 from buying tickets through Ticketmaster.

$4.50 in convenience fees doesn’t seem too bad to me. Way to go Ticketfly.com. You have my stamp of approval.

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A Quick Clarification

April 7, 2010

In an earlier post I received a comment that made me feel like I should clarify my stance on Ticketmaster:

Through this blog I am not trying to discredit the service that Ticketmaster does offer. It eliminates a huge burden for consumers. Gone are the days of camping out in front of music venues 12 hours before tickets are released in order to get the best seats. Ticketmaster has given us the ability to do this from the comfort of our own couch.

The company should be compensated for this. My hostility comes from feeling ripped off by the amount that Ticketmaster charges for this service.

To quote Diller,

“What a great privilege it is for you to be able to do that and how much infrastructure we had to create and desks we had to make in order for you to do that.”

Over the past five years Ticketmaster has generated more than $5 billion from convenience fees.

We have paid for the technology and desks it took to create Ticketmaster 100 times over by now, it is time for the fees to be lowered.

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Diller’s Side of the Story

April 5, 2010

It would be unfair to only post concerns about the Ticketmaster/LiveNation Merger. Below is an excerpt from an article published in USA Today interviewing the man himself, Barry Diller.

USA TODAY: Live Nation is the country’s largest owner of arenas. Ticketmaster is the largest ticketing company and has deals with several stars. Why shouldn’t we be nervous about seeing them get together?

BARRY DILLER: Well, you can be nervous all you wish. It sounds awfully arrogant. It’s not meant that way. The thing is: These companies don’t compete with each other directly. We don’t own venues as Live Nation does. And Live Nation just entered the ticketing business but they don’t compete with us at this point. So, it’s vertical, and there’s nothing legally wrong with vertical.

The issue is: Will consumers pay more? No. I actually think that what the combination will do will allow us to develop what was really lacking. The big players are getting rather old. The Rolling Stones are out there now. What we don’t have is a great development process for new talent.

The recorded music business now is, in a sense, the loss leader for live entertainment. And the truth is that they should have symbiotic relationships, and I think we can bring that. But it’s under review at the Justice Department and we’ll know whenever they get around to dealing with this.

USA TODAY: Fleetwood Mac will be playing in St. Louis in a couple weeks. You can get a midpriced ticket for about $77, then there’s a convenience charge of $9.70, a building facility charge of $2.50, and for the privilege of printing out my own ticket at home, I’ve got to pay you $2.50.

BARRY DILLER: I would tell you what a great privilege it is for you to be able to do that and how much infrastructure we had to create and desks we had to make in order for you to do that. But here’s the thing: Ticketmaster is the definition of an unloved company. Many more people are denied tickets than we are able to give them because there are only so many seats in the house.

The problem with the ticketing business is: It’s the essence of non-transparency. And the reason is that everybody has an ax to grind. Artists do not want consumers to know that they have a take of different parts of the ticketing package. People who own venues want to put in service charges. So I think there’s going to be legislation which is going to force transparency, and I think that would be great for everybody.
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Going back to the my previous post, Diller clearly leaves many concerns unresolved. While he asserts that Live Nation and Ticketmaster never directly competed with each other, he does not remove my fear of an even larger monopoly being created with the combination of two super powers in one industry.

Diller does state that there will be no increase in pricing, and that the “combination will allow [them] to create what is really lacking.” One can hope that means lower service charges, but with a track record like Ticketmaster’s, I won’t hold my breath.

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For better or for worse… The Marriage of Live Nation and Ticketmaster

April 5, 2010

To my dismay, the U.S. Department of Justice approved the merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster this January. This merger combines the nation’s biggest concert promoter with the largest seller of tickets for live entertainment. While it is still unclear how dramatically this will effect the industry and prices for concert tickets, ticketdistater.org outline key concerns below:

Ticketmaster and Live Nation dominate the live entertainment industry and any further integration will allow the new company unprecedented control over pricing and access, thereby relinquishing consumer purchasing power.

Ticketmaster currently owns an artist-management business, Front Line Management Group, which contracts with roughly 200 artists. Live Nation owns or has exclusive deals with 139 venues, but it also manages about 150 artists. This merger would allow the merged entity to determine the prices of access to venues, concert promotion, ticketing, and other services – permitting a single firm to dominate virtually all aspects of the live event market in most cities across the country.

Ticketmaster uses multiple means to take advantage of consumers and increase the price of tickets and services, a practice that will grow with increased control over the market.

Unfortunately for the fans, as Ticketmaster’s empire grows, so do its fees. As the New Yorker puts it, “Ticketmaster is the empire that service fees built: Over the last five years it has generated more than $5 billion in ‘convenience fees,’ ‘order-processing fees’ and newer schemes like charging fans $2.50 to print their own tickets.” These fees are exorbitant and “often account for more than thirty percent of the cost of a ticket.”

A Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger will guarantee the new company full and exclusive access to competitively sensitive live entertainment information.

The proposed monopoly will also align previously competing interests, thereby allowing them to deliver key competitive information to keep prices (including access to venue, promotions, and ticket sales) at a premium. The merger will enable the merged firm to know the most competitively sensitive information about its rivals, making it more difficult for existing companies to survive and for new companies to enter the market. Eliminating competition will simply allow more room to drive up prices for consumers.

Ticketmaster has a track record of initiating anti-competitive practices to block competitors from accessing their events.

Through the use of paperless ticketing (requiring identification and financial information for entrance to events) and the act of voiding bar codes of previously purchased tickets, Ticketmaster has already inconvenienced fans and attempted to block any ability for them to buy, sell, or otherwise transfer their tickets in an open marketplace and for a competitive price.

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Someone Should Be Listening

April 3, 2010

Barry Diller has spoken out about his lack of interest in Twitter, saying that he is “pessimistic about its prospects for making money.” After taking a brief look at what’s being said about Ticketmaster, I would have to agree with him.

Here is a SAMPLE of what has been said about Ticketmaster in the past two hours alone:

While Twitter may not be a way for you to make money Mr. Diller, I advise you to join the conversation. There is something significant to note when 96% of the daily Tweets about your company come from unsatisfied consumers. What happened to the customer always being right?

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The King of Convenience (Charges)

April 3, 2010

I’m sure you are wondering: who is Barry Diller and why am I targeting him specifically in my attempt to get fair prices for concert tickets?

Barry Diller is a media mogul who is presently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp, an interactive commerce conglomerate and the parent of companies including Ticketmaster as well as Match.com, Home Shopping Network, Citysearch, LendingTree and Connected Ventures, home of Vimeo and CollegeHumor.

Before this, Diller was the media executive responsible for the creation of Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting.

As you can see, Diller is a force to be reckoned with. Just take a look at his forbes.com profile:

Diller reigns over an empire in the media industry. The expertise and credibility he has garnered through the years gives him the power needed to create this necessary change for Ticketmaster while maintaining the support of shareholders and employees.

By lowering services charges by 25 percent, consumers will not be the only ones to benefit. Ticketmaster will reap rewards that come from consumer loyalty and positive brand perception- something that Diller has stated Ticketmaster lacks. These two characteristics are more imperative than ever for brands to possess. If you’re not convinced, take a look at the present music industry.

Drastic changes have taken place in the recent decade due to the rise of the internet and consumer power. Major record labels are suffering huge losses because they didn’t listen to consumers’ demand for fair prices and more options for obtaining music. When we all got sick of shelling out $17 for an album from an artist that only really had one track we liked, what did we do?

We found alternative means of obtaining the commodity. For some this meant buying a single track off iTunes instead of a full album, and for many others this meant illegally downloading songs to fill their music libraries.

This alone shows that as consumers we have more power than ever to demand what we want. If we are unable to obtain it from a company, we can (and will) find a better way. Our generation is marked by our tech-savvyiness and innovative ability to create change. It would be a mistake to underestimate this.

I have faith that if Ticketmaster does not realize this and make ticket buying more affordable, a new company with better business practices will come along and steal its position as an industry leader.

You are not invincible, Mr. Diller. There is a great potential for Ticketmaster to fall from its throne, always remember that. I would hate to say I told you so.