Buying Drake or Queen Bey Concert Tickets Should Not Be This Difficult —Or Expensive

Photo:  Yuri Arcurs / EyeEm (Getty Images)
Photo: Yuri Arcurs / EyeEm (Getty Images)

Once upon a time, when your favorite artist went on tour, all you had to do to get tickets was wait in line at the box office. Obviously, this didn’t guarantee you a seat, but at least you felt like you had a fair shot at seeing the concert. Then, the process moved to non-stop calls to the box office, before finally fully transitioning to the internet. Ticket buying has never been perfect, but there was always a part of it that felt fair. If you were willing to put in the time, effort and money, you at least had a real chance at getting seats. However, now that one company runs the show, that process has become one gigantic, stressful shitshow.

In recent months, Ticketmaster has been the subject of multiple controversies, as its handling of ticket sales for major concert tours has led to one scandal after another. The corporation even found itself in a senate hearing after botching the on-sale for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras” tour.

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In order to purchase tickets, fans can participate in pre-sales for concerts through the venue, the artist’s fan club, their cell phone provider or their credit card company. Once these pre-sales are done, the event is then opened up for a public on-sale. You don’t really need to be special to get pre-sale access, you just have to sign up. That means that most serious fans and ticket resellers are using pre-sales. So as it relates to Swift’s tour, so many people signed in for pre-sales that Ticketmaster was completely unprepared for the onslaught and the whole affair was disastrous.

According to NBC News, in January, the situation led to a Senate Judiciary hearing by the subcommittee in charge of competition policy and antitrust issues, where Ticketmaster, and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, had their monopoly on the ticket industry examined. Of course, other than airing a lot of dirty laundry about how the company financially controls fans, venues and artists, nothing came of it. The subcommittee sent a letter recommending that Live Nation’s conduct be investigated by the Department of Justice, but I don’t have high hopes for a meaningful outcome to any of this. Even if they find fault with Live Nation, it would just lead to a large fine, but no real changes. Because isn’t that what always happens when corporations get in trouble?

If You Had to Choose Beyoncé Tickets Over Rent, Blame Ticketmaster

The other frustrating part of this story is about ticket prices themselves. When you hear that Beyoncé is taking the Renaissance on tour, you expect it to cost an astronomical amount of money. I know the tickets are going to be somewhere between $300-$1,000, and it’s my business whether I’m willing to spend that money. However, I don’t need Ticketmaster adding an extra $40-$50 in fees to that total. Tax, service charges and venue fees are expected. However, they don’t need to be ridiculously high.

The company recently found itself in hot water again when ‘80s rock band The Cure specifically decided to keep prices low for its upcoming shows and Ticketmaster couldn’t let fans win. It added so many fees on top of the initial price that the total for some fans ended up being double the actual cost of tickets. Per NPR, after complaints from fans and The Cure frontman Robert Smith, Ticketmaster offered “a $5-10 refund per ticket for verified fan accounts ‘as a gesture of goodwill.’” That is just straight-up BS.

This is a perfect example of a company being blatantly greedy because it knows that the fans have no other recourse. Ticketmaster knows that our only option is to go to resellers. The weird thing is that the company has made buying tickets such a convoluted hassle that going through the resale market is almost preferable to using traditional methods. If I have to pay an arm and a leg to see a concert, I might as well choose the option that doesn’t induce stress migraines.

This corporation essentially controls our live entertainment and honestly, there’s nothing we can really do about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have some magic solution to this problem. Until fans and artists decide to revolt against Ticketmaster’s choke hold on the music world, or until a bigger company comes along and acquires Live Nation, this is an aspect of our entertainment lives that we just have to deal with.

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